In May 2011, my 5-year-old son and I went to see my brother graduate from Boot Camp in Fort Benning, GA. It was a trip that involved a lot of sitting down at ceremonies and then sitting down at nice restaurants. Then it involved a plane ride home, which also included lots of sitting down. If I ever write a book about parenting with patience, I’m going to write about our trip to Georgia.
We had a few hours to kill before our plane ride home so we visited a Barnes & Noble in Columbus, GA. We weren’t going to purchase anything. We were just looking around, playing with the toy train in the back, waiting for our flight time. I was pretty sure that the Columbus Airport would be lacking in stimulating activities for a 5-year-old boy – and I was right.
So, in the Barnes and Noble, my son found a smallish, black, plush cat. My son asked me if we could buy him. I guess we could have, but we had already bought several tokens from the Infantry Museum, a T-shirt, a stuffed bear, a small tank, and I was pretty sure this was a “I’m bored and restless” impluse buy. So I said, “We are not going to buy the cat now. If you save up your money, we can buy one at the Barnes and Noble at home.” Then I had to explain how Barnes and Noble is a chain, don’t worry, they carry the same types of items, just like how the McDonald’s here had the same little Lego toys that our McDonald’s did, etc., etc. I reminded him that he already had a toy tank to play with, on and on. It was rough but turned out okay. He put the cat back, and we went next door to the Marble Slab to get ice cream.
This was seven months ago.
Fast forward to November. Out of the blue, the P says, “Hey, do I have enough money for that cat?”
I knew exactly which cat he was talking about, well, at least I remembered we saw him at Barnes and Noble, and he might have been black. I remembered that he cost about $10. Maybe the cat from the “If you give…” series.
“Let’s check your piggy bank.”
While he counted his money, I jumped on the Barnes and Noble website and searched frantically for plush cats. They had some cats, but none that look like the Georgia cat…
“I have 10 quarters. How much is that?” We talked some more about his money and how he needed a few more dollars to get to ten. He could do chores to earn some more.
He went to clean the living room right away.
Suddenly, my one-marshmellow, instant gratification boy was really into saving up his dollars. He cleaned something every night for a dollar. Every so often, he would ask if he had enough to buy a Hot Wheels, but then, he would remember that cat. I continued my online search with no luck. He was holding out at about $8.
Then came Christmas and the windfall of dollars from grandparents, and he finally had $10 for this little cat.
We talked about the possiblity that Barnes and Noble would be out of cats. He had a good attitude about this in theory. I was a little worried, though, about what might happen if we couldn’t find the cat in practice. The internet at large showed no signs of little black plush cats…
So, I called Barnes and Noble the week after Christmas, when they are so super busy, and in about 10 seconds told my little story, “My son saw this little black cat, maybe based on the “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” book, like, 7 months ago. Do you still carry those?” I didn’t mention the part about the one we saw was in another state.
The sweet, sweet Barnes and Noble employee went all the way to the children’s section and found – one small, black cat matching my description. She said she would hold it at the front for 3 days.
We didn’t wait 3 days: