Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Store Checkout Routines: Share your Toddler Tips
A store’s checkout line is a special parenting zone. We stand still for a few minutes, sometimes too many minutes. We
develop and evolve rituals to keep our kids engaged.
Putting my daughter in a shopping cart is easy enough. We started by playing remote peek-a-boo from across the counter, and later we could simply make faces. Today, at almost 4-years-old, the events
naturally transpiring around her are interesting enough to keep her attention.
Standing with us in the checkout line is another matter. As soon as
was feasible, we let her foist bread and small non-fragile boxes onto the conveyor
belt. Upon departure, we offered her the tantalizing excitement of carrying the
At her third birthday we gave her a wallet, initially to carry her library card. With our guidance
she paid for small items with coins, or a quickly produced bill from Papa’s wallet.
Larger purchases required her own credit card. Now almost a year later, she has
lost interest in her wallet, so I carry her plastic for her.
Behold my daughter’s latest credit card.
We’ve used many cards obtained from junk mail in the past
year, but they have one unifying quality â€” cheapness. They are made from
thick paper or flimsy plastic.
When the opportunity arose six months ago, I applied
for a $40 coupon from the US government. This is the same US government rolling in so much surplus cash it’s giving $40-off coupons to its residents to buy converter boxes for adapting their analog TVs to receive digital broadcast signals. (Come February 17, 2009 analog signals won’t be broadcast. If you have a cable box or satellite TV, you may already have a converter.)
I applied for two coupons through the government’s
converter box website for our two TVs, but in the intervening time we stopped
using one TV and use the other one mostly for DVDs. What can I say? Our effort to not make TV a driving force in our daughter’s life ended up affecting us too.
It turns out these "coupons" are hard plastic
cards, replete with embossed numbers (only the last four digits differ on my
two cards). There is also a hokey engraved 3-D silver hologram that displays the word
"security" in a circle above a field of $ signs. Thank you Department
of Commerce for the best damn fake credit card my daughter has ever had. And
it’s bright red, too.
Using the card is simple. After I swipe my legitimate credit
card through a store’s card reader and confirm my purchase, I quickly pick up
Little Miss and help her slide her own card through the reader. Her invalid
card doesn’t interfere with my valid transaction, so no harm done. Whether she knows it’s all for show, or not, doesn’t matter. She has fun doing it.
Now, I have to wonder, what checkout rituals does your family have for
keeping kid(s) engaged?