Last night, my husband asked me what my plans were for the day. "Well, there's a Pay Your Age day at Build-A-Bear, so I figured I'd drop you off at work and take the kids to the mall. I'll be there an hour before they open, so that should put us toward the front of the line."
"Aww, you're such a good mom! That's a fun thing I'd probably never do with them myself!"
This morning, I pulled into the mall parking lot and immediately felt my chest tighten. Yes, I have anxiety - you know this. But social anxiety is the worst - it's so isolating! I worry what I'm modeling for my kids, and how my mental health is faring if my social anxiety is so intense I don't want to go to a mall.
And then I came back to reality. Last week, I took my kids to the mall play area and wrote as Shep ran around and Rory watched him. I don't have an issue with malls, and I don't need to always avoid crowds. It's this particular crowd - this event - that had put a sour taste in my mouth. Why did I even want to do this Build-A-Bear thing? My kids have more than enough stuffed animals - more than enough toys overall. And what was it that bothered me so much about the lines?
Here's what it is. Build-A-Bear did a really terrible job at planning for this event. Some locations ran out of bears well before their lines reduced - the company added an emergency banner before most of their locations even opened. Lines were closed, and families could get a voucher for $15 off a bear on another day instead of waiting. While I haven't looked for them, I'm sure there will be stories of people suffering from heat exhaustion while waiting in line in the summer heat. I knew that this poor planning would either be in my favor immensely - or it would make the event unbearable. It seems like the company made some customers pretty upset, and I'm glad I skipped that stress.
Families waited for upwards of nine and ten hours to get a simple stuffed animal. Was it the appeal of the deal that kept them waiting? Or the human groupthink that kicks in and helps us motivate one another when we're "in it to win it" together? This event was more in-demand than Black Friday! Think about it: if you want a specific toy, you can visit a number of stores or even order it online. Instead, Build-A-Bear required kids to be in line with guardians, and standing in line for hours still wasn't a guarantee you would get a bear. Dang, man! Way to break some hearts!
While I love a good deal, this frenzy seemed overblown. Look, I'm not saying that wanting a bear (or wanting to save money!) makes you a bad person. Heck, I've even written about the ways I try to pinch a penny! But there comes a point where we're teaching our kids to partake in capitalist fervor - to give up days of work, hours of our time, and our good cheer to stubbornly demand a piece of fabric stuffed with fluff.
It struck me when I saw the parking full of cars, crowded around the entrance nearest the Build-A-Bear kiosk. Nope! Nope nope nope, and I backed out of my own spot and booked it. Lesson learned: I'll never be a crazy-sale-lady and I don't want my kids to normalize that behavior.
Did you wait in line for a BaB? Which one did you get? Tag me in your pic on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.