I used to enjoy meandering through souvenir shops after a trip, searching the aisles trying to find the perfect memento. Traveling with children has definitely changed my perspective on those quaint little shops. I don't think that there is anything that brings out the greed in kids than aisles of cheap junk and plush animals. After spending an insane amount of money on the trip and experiences, the fact that I am somehow obligated to provide a parting gift is frustrating.
Fielding requests from all of my little campers, I finally acquiesced and agreed to purchase one souvenir per person. My only request was that the gift needed to be no more than $10. Everybody agreed that my price was fair and they took off into the store on their quest.
Three of the four quickly picked an item and brought it to me for approval. My oldest nephew had his heart set on a pocket knife behind the glass case. I explained that he had a $10 limit, and also reminded him that I do not buy knives for kids. He broke down in tears in the middle of the store. As his tears flowed, I held my ground that I don't buy knives. I reminded him of his $10 limit and suggested that he search the plush or cup aisle.
His tears quickly morphed into a full blown meltdown. After 40 minutes of reminders and offering suggestions and comfort, I told him that we were checking out. He had until I reached the cashier to pick an item. If he didn't, he would get nothing.
He remained in the center of the store, huffing and crying about the pocket knife. (I received sympathetic and understanding looks from every shopper with a child.) I felt badly not purchasing him anything, but I did not want to reward his outburst. After all he had ample opportunity to pick an item. He chose to use his time to cry and throw a fit. This was not a nice way to end a wonderful adventure!
Eventually he moved from the store to the front porch of the Ranger Station. Slowly he seemed to recover from my perceived cold-hearted denial and began to play with everybody else. His smile wasn't as broad, and I glanced a few glares being thrown in my direction for the rest of the afternoon. Hopefully this will not be his only memory of our trip, because with the exception of this meltdown we had a wonderful time!
I can say that after yesterday's souvenir shopping drama, I have declared that Aunt Peggy's Adventures will no longer include a trinket shopping opportunity.