We took Small to CBeebies Land at Alton Towers this week, as a cheeky ‘polling-day-school-closure’ treat. It’s the first time she’s been, and she loved it. We had a great time. At least, that is, until we exited one of the rides directly into the merchandise shop. (It was the ‘In the Night Garden’ ride if you’re interested/want to be prepared!)
Now, I appreciate these places have merchandise to sell, but when we’re talking about little kids, and, in our case, autistic little kids (lacking in theory of mind, rigid thinking, not good at taking ‘no’ for an answer…), I really believe parents should be given a choice about whether to expose their children to the temptation that is ALL the Go Jetters toys.
There really was no other option but to walk right through rows and rows of all Small’s CBeebies favourites in toy form; Bing, Go Jetters, Octonauts, Peter Rabbit, Mr. Tumble… it had it all. And Small wanted it all. Recently, I’ve gotten to the point where I try my best to avoid taking her to Asda with me, as she will run away to the toy aisle and throw the mother of all strops when I deny her the latest PJ Masks toy. So, having to take her through her personal heaven of plushies and plastic was just hell.
It’s like those stands at the checkouts in the supermarket, full of sweets and chocolate. Some shops have banned these now, as they realise that parents really don’t like the pester predicament they present.
As a grown adult, I’d actually quite like the choice as to whether I want to risk the screaming and tantrums that will inevitably spout forth from my child if I say ‘no’ to her demands for yet another Bing toy. I’m not made of money. The day is expensive enough once you’ve factored in entry costs, food and drink and car parking, not to mention the extortionately-priced photos (which are really crap, actually!) that we couldn’t resist buying because it was her first time on a rollercoaster. I’d seen the shop and made a mental note to avoid it, knowing what would happen if we went in. Only then I find myself heading straight for it as if magnetized, with nowhere to turn and the horror of the inevitable playing through my mind!
As expected, when we tried to go straight through the shop to the exit, Small wanted to browse. When I took her by the hand to gently, but firmly, direct her out, she began to scream and shout. Everyone turned. I smiled rigidly and tried to walk faster, almost dragging her behind me, flailing and wailing. Outside, the tantrum continued until The Hubby could take no more and offered to take her back into the shop while I paid a fortune for sandwiches and tea. I nodded wearily, whispering to him that he should find the cheapest thing possible if he absolutely had to buy something.
I find it very unfair that parents of small children, who are not generally known for their advanced reasoning skills and understanding of ‘not today, sweetheart, Mummy doesn’t have much money and you have already filled our house with plastic crap’, are put in such a position in the first place. I try to teach my daughter that she can’t always have what she wants, despite her limited understanding. I’m a bit of a pushover and I do give in to her in a lot of other ways (chocolate for breakfast, anyone?) but even I have limits.
Please, shops, theme parks and attractions, respect parents’ choices and let us decide if we want to spend a fortune on an overpriced piece of tat, rather than putting us in the unwanted position of either paying up or risking public humiliation and a very upset child, on what should be a happy day.