Overheard in the Aisles

Cynthia Compton - May 20, 2019

My favorite conversations in the bookstore are the ones in which I’m not involved, but happen to overhear in the aisles. This week has been a busy one at the shop, as our schools are finishing up the year, and there’s lots of present buying for both graduations and teacher gifts. The final big “invite-everyone-in-your-class” birthday parties of the school year took place this weekend — no Indy mom schedules a party on Memorial Day weekend, as we have THE RACE — so the gift shopping is brisk as kids will have two and three celebrations each day, it seems, in the month of May. There has been lots of bustle and chitchat in the shelves, so I’m sharing a sampling of my eavesdropping with you:
Between a four-year-old and his mom:  We need to get a gift for your friend Thomas. What does he like? He likes me. And jelly beans. Yes, and it’s his birthday, and we will take a present to his party. What should we get? Lunch. I think we can go home and eat right after we buy a gift. Can you help me pick out a present for your friend? No, he really likes playing with my things, so we can just get something for me, and he will be a sharer. 

Between two newly minted grandmothers, browsing in the board books: Are you buying for a grandchild? My daughter just had a little girl. She is so sweet. We are headed over there to visit her this afternoon, but I wanted just a little something to take. Maybe a book? Oh, that’s a good one! I got that one for my daughter-in-law’s gender reveal party, and a little stuffed animal to match — see, these right here. Well, it was the baby’s gender that was revealed, with balloons (!), but my son and daugher-in-law were pregnant. Well, no, my daughter-in-law was pregnant… it’s my son’s first child, and our first grand baby! Well, it was HER first child too…. they are married, and live in ….      …did you ever hear of “gender reveal”? My husband didn’t want to go because he thought it would be at the doctor’s office, but I showed him on Pinterest that it’s a party.
At the train table, between new friends of preschool age: You wanna play with me? Ok, you be the ‘teller’ and I’ll be the ‘doer.’ Ok. Get the red engine and bring it over to the blue one, and they can be friends and be nice and not fight. Ok. Can I put the red one on the bridge? Yes, but he has to bring the little caboose, too, so it won’t get sad. It’s not good to leave friends out when you’re playing. You are good at friends.
In the alcove of the middle grade section: Mom, can I have this? What is it? It’s that book I was telling you about that we read at school. So you’ve already read it? Well, yes, we read it in our class. Why don’t you pick out something new that you haven’t read? Something that will keep you busy on our drive to Chicago. This will keep me busy. But you’ve already READ it. Yes, that’s how I know I like it. Mom, it’s really, really good. And I’m not done thinking about it yet. 
In front of the game wall, between two moms shopping for gifts. One has her cell phone out and is checking online reviews: This one says it’s good for cooperative play. Oh, can I see that? Sure. Are you buying a gift? Yes, and this mom has a newborn, as well as five-year-old twins. I think maybe something that they could do together, that doesn’t have a lot of little pieces, and is quiet, and lasts more than five minutes, and is not a video or doesn’t get stuck in the carpet….   Oh, I don’t have a newborn, but I want all those things, too. I’ll take one for the gift, and one for us. How many do you want?  Two. It’s going to be a long summer.
At the front counter, around the impulse items (affectionately nicknamed “shut up toys” by the bookstore staff): Dad, can I have this? No. What about this? What is it? I don’t know, but I want it. If you don’t know what it is, then don’t ask for it. Can I have thisNo. Why not? I know what it is!  You don’t need that. You can get a book. One book. OK! A book! I will go get one. (child returns with two books, from the same series.) Dad, this is the one we didn’t finish that we had to take back to the library but then we lost it so we had to buy it but I didn’t get to read the one we bought to give to the library instead so we stopped at the excitingest part but I didn’t get to finish but it’s almost at the end so here’s the next one because then when I finish that part that we didn’t get to read before we bought….(deep breath)….. the one for the one we lost then I will need to read the next one and the next one but you said only one thing so I only got the next. So you won’t lose the second one before you finish the first? No. Or maybe yes. So maybe you should keep it until I’m ready, because then you can read it, too. 
Around the exit, between the veterinary play center and the front door: Sam, it’s time to leave. Nope. Yes, it’s time. We bought the present, and I got some new books for us, too. I’m playing. Yes, remember I said we had five minutes? Now it’s time to go. No, thank you. Thank you for using your kind words, but we need to leave now. No, I don’t want to. We can come back to story time this week, and maybe we can bring your buddy Erin. But it’s time. (heavy sigh from the child, and a reluctant step or two toward the door.) Goodnight, my store! I love you.


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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana, a 2600 sq. ft. childrens store founded in 2003. She serves on the board of the American Booksellers Association, is a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and is a former member of the American Specialty Toy Retail Association board of directors. 4 Kids was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013 and has received numerous "best of" awards in the Indianapolis area. The opinions expressed in her posts are her own, and sometimes those of her english bulldogs.

2 thoughts on “Overheard in the Aisles

  1. Caroline Reich

    Oh, how I love “I’m not done thinking about it yet”–I hope that ended with the parent saying yes!

    1. Cynthia Compton Post author

      Caroline, that was my favorite story, too. Yes, the book was purchased, along with one other suggested title from me. It was a literary win-win.


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