Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Up, up and away

There's a Loblaws supermarket near our house that features artistic flourishes at every turn: A locally-inspired mural on the wall, live musicians serenading shoppers from an overhead stage, and stylized balloons suspended from the rafters.

The cynic in me suggests this is their way of helping us forget that this is a premium-priced market. Someone, after all, has to pay for the tuba player.

But when I watched our youngest son stare intently up at the balloons, I thought they were onto something. He's long remembered this place as "the one with the hot air balloons." Seeing them never fails to ignite a discussion over how they work, and the differences between pretend balloons like these and the real ones that often fly over our neighborhood.

Later today, I'm scheduled to once again take to the sky. I'm heading to New York City for a conference, and will miss the funny little discussions that our kids love to initiate. As I float above the clouds, I'll wonder what they're thinking as they crane their necks and look skyward. And I'll look forward to coming home on Thursday and telling them what it was like to once again be up there on my way to a strange new place.

Travel is, by definition, not always the easiest thing on the traveller or immediate relatives. But somewhere in the stress of being away, I'll think of this image of our little man looking up, and I'll smile at what awaits me upon my return.

Your turn: Do your kids exhibit great insight in the grocery aisles? What is it about kids that makes them such keen observers of the world around them?


Jay said...

When I was little, my favourite was to visit a produce store called Farm Boy's. In the dairy case, there was a cow head that, prompted by a child's push of the button, would moo and tell you 'fun dairy facts'. There was also a guitar-picking cowboy robot who sang his song ever 3.5 minutes, tiny grocery carts for kids to push, and always free popcorn samples.

Stores are definitely learning to cater to kids - because if a kid is unhappy, the parents leave all the sooner, sometimes with items unpurchased.

Why are kids so comparatively observant? I don't know. It kind of makes you think about taking things a little bit slower next time.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't necessarily call it great insight... but when they were younger, the reddish-colored border floor tiles were "lava" and I was supposed to keep the shopping cart off of them, no matter what - or we'd burn up.

Also, the first thing we used to hear upon entering the store was, "I want to go see the mobsters."

srp said...

Does anyone remember the "Campbell Kids"? Those chubby cheeked kids that the soup company used for advertising. Larger than life sized posters were everywhere in the store. My mother, who taught school (mostly first grade) for over thirty-five years, somehow managed to get a grocer to give her a set. She used them on bulletin boards and became some of her prized "teacher supplies".

As for my child showing much discernment in the grocery isle? Not really. In a music store, an art museum or at a play...yes, but not the grocery store. I feel a sense of accomplishment that she actually knows how to look for the "price per ounce" stickers when shopping.

srp said...

I forgot to say.... if you have any time at all in New York, check out Dylan's Candy Bar or better yet... Books of Wonder. It is the best children's book store I have run across. OK, well Chinaberry Books is great too but they only do mail order. Books of Wonder has a lovely store at 18 West 18th Street as well as mail order. They have the biggest collection of the original Oz books and quite a few old and rare children's books.

Moon said...

Kids see everything with the air of innocence..wonder and eagerness to learn, see, understand. It is the very reason we love to see the excitement in a childs eyes. Or want to be a child again.
We often become synical or jaded in life or know ppl who are. I would like to think I have kept part of that little girl inside of me. I always try to take a moment to enjoy those simple things like for instance a hot air balloon in the sky or the silly fact that TODAY is my HALF birthday lol. I have a hop to my step today lol.
Hopefully most of us, still have the little kid in them.

Azgreeneyes said...

Not sure that I would define my kids as being 'insightful' rather excited. They love to run up and down the aisles, and my eldest is learning to read and what money is and it's respective value. Which can be embarrassing when he reads the ounces on the laundry detergent instead of the price and turns aruond to ask me, "Mom, can we REALLY afford to spend $100 on stuff for clothes?"

I think that our kids notice oh so much more than we do because they don't have any of the pressing worries that we do. They don't have to worry about budgets or sales or what to make for dinner. They are free to simply observe what is going on around them, which they comment on much more freely than we as adults would probably ever do.

Have fun in New York!

Jef said...

We didn't have hot air balloons or tubas at the local Piggly Wiggly, just ... uh pigs.

Mrs. Falkenberg said...

The giant posters are full of potential. We see kitties, babies, corn, you name it. All in huge, bright colours. My kids LOVE the grocery store. Plus, they have live crabs and lobsters!