If You Give A Kid A Twenty Dollar Bill…

It’s funny what one little trip to Wal-Mart will teach you about your kids.

Nana and Great-daddy gave each child 20 bucks as part of their Christmas present. We let them spend it however they wanted. Sam and Ian ordered some Lego sets online, but the rest of the kids got an outing to Wal-Mart with Andrew. When he came home and reported the result to me, it was a good chance to sit and evaluate these kids who are turning into people…

Adam – LEGOS. Specifically, Star Wars Legos. Which is interesting, because he doesn’t really play with them that much. And he hates to build stuff by following directions. But Star Wars Legos are the toys of choice with his big brothers, hence, he must have them.

It’s funny to watch Adam, just sixteen months younger than the twins, struggle to find the balance between fitting in and having his own identity. There are times when he MUST have something different from the twins. And other times where nothing but EXACTLY what Sam and Ian have will do.

Nobody ever said 8 year olds were consistent.


Adam in his favorite lap: Great-daddy’s.

Ellen – She’s a tough kid to pin down as far as hobbies and toys go. She doesn’t really PLAY. She… DOES. Crafts are a great gift for her… but she doesn’t like to buy crafty stuff for herself. So when she goes to Wal-Mart, she will blow all of her dough on a bunch of little things.

It’s all about QUANTITY for her. She spent long minutes pondering the merits of various 2 and 3 dollar items before coming home with a sack full of tiny things like a bubble gum bank, a slap bracelet (remember those?), and jelly beans.

Doesn’t matter that it wasn’t practical. She got more than anybody else. In her mind, that’s a win. (And the grin on her face when she discovered that her slap bracelet lit up? Priceless – especially since she’s currently snaggle-toothed.)


Nana and Ellen – They have a lot in common.

Willa – She told Andrew on the way to the store exactly what she was going to get. She marched straight to the “fairy” aisle, pointed to the precise fairy she had named in the car (I don’t know how she knows the names, she’s not actually SEEN that show), tucked it under her arm and was done.

She’s a go-getter, that one. And decisive. Glory be.


She shares a middle name with Nana. Or is it the other way around?

Mira – She headed to the Disney Jr. section and immediately hugged “Stuffy” from Doc McStuffins to her chest. “‘Dis one, Daddy.”

She added some tiny Sofia the First figurines and was content. She brought them home and disappeared into her own little world, making up voices and stories for the characters in her head.

Finn – He’s never seen a toy aisle before. He Lost. His. Mind. “Cahs! Cahs! Dadd-ee, CAHS!!!!”

He’s a sucker for cars. His favorite activity in a day is to get to look at cars on Pinterest while sitting in Daddy’s lap. Andrew pushed Finn in the shopping cart past all the toys for his age range. He pointed and grunted around his paci with excitement, but didn’t try to climb out of the cart until they reached the cars. Then he insisted that Andrew pick him up and let him choose his very own cars.

As soon as we had them out of the packaging at home, he vroomed them around and chanted excitedly, “Cahs! Cahs!”

Later, I caught Finn following Mira around while she played. He had her stuffed animal and was making “voices” for it while she sang and acted out a story in her head. She included Finn in her own little way and they were happy.


My babies at play.

Toys can’t buy kids happiness, that’s for sure. Some of those items will be forgotten by tomorrow. But for tonight, it was a treat to see them have complete deciding power and to watch them use it.

Oh, and it bought us an evening of quiet while they all disappeared to play with their new things!

So, Thanks, Nana and Great-daddy. We’re ALL grateful for this little experiment.



  1. Love it!

  2. Jennifer R. says:

    That is neat to see what kids will choose on their own. My 5 year old daughter won’t spend any of her birthday or Christmas money. She adds it to her Disneyland fund (at the rate OUR fund is going, she will be 15 before we make it there). My 3.5 yr old boy wants more cars too!

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