A couple of weeks ago, we were enjoying dinner at Mexico Restaurant — kids eat free on Tuesdays, as if we needed an excuse. The waiter happened to stop by just as The Boy was declaring Mexico one of his 12 favorite places to be.
"Twelve favorite?" the waiter asked, with an impressively convincing hurt face. "I feel like we should be in the top five, at least!"
"Well, I have a lot of places I like," The Boy said, preparing to share the whole list. "I like Target, and Sweet Frog, and Baboo's House, and the Lego Store …"
"You've never been to the Lego Store," I reminded him.
"No, but I know it exists," The Boy said blithely.
"Well, I'm going to crack the top five before your meal is over," the waiter promised, dashing off to freshen The Boy's salsa dish. The Boy was thrilled to get VIP service, but I was distracted from the rest of my meal by a secret plan. A plan that I was concocting in my head as I ate my enchiladas pueblo. A plan to visit the Lego Store.
Being as obsessed with Legos as The Boy is, he knows that there are Legoland theme parks in California and Europe (there may be one in Florida, too, by the time this hits print; it's scheduled to open in the fall). He also knows there are Legoland Discovery Centers, which are smaller, indoor parks scattered around the country and throughout Europe, too. But in addition to being a Lego fan, The Boy is also a consummate consumer, and the main place he wants to go is the Lego Store — and there just so happen to be two in Virginia — one at Tysons Corner, and one at Potomac Mills.
A week and a half later, we made the drive up to Northern Virginia. The cover story was that we were going to the Museum of Military Vehicles in Nokesville, and we were, it's true, but I made us a hotel reservation across the street from Potomac Mills. A hotel is also on The Boy's list of favorite places to be, so the weekend was already made of win as far as he was concerned. Plus tanks? That he could sit in? Forget about it! But first? Oh, yes, first. Mama needs to go to the mall.
Tad and I made it sound as unappealing as possible. Blame my dad for the prankster gene. We told him I was shopping for underwear. Ewwwww! We dragged him over to Potomac Mills right after breakfast.
"We've never been to this mall before," he noted, looking around at all of the new stores. "Do you think they will have a toy store?"
"Oh, probably not," I said, frowning. "It's not much of a kids' mall. It's mainly for grown-ups."
"Well, if there's a toy store, I want to go in it," he said hopefully, trotting along between us.
"I don't know, maybe," Tad said, playing this prank for all it was worth.
"HEY!" The Boy said, stopping dead in his tracks. "Look at the bag that boy has! It's a Lego bag!" Stupid Lego Store and their bright red and yellow logo! So much for the big surprise we'd been planning.
"He probably brought it from home," I said, pulling The Boy by the arm. "Come on! I know the underwear store is around here somewhere."
"That kid has one, too!" The Boy said, by now doing the crazy hopping side-to-side dance that means he's about to pop from excitement. Sometimes it means he has to pee. This time it meant, "OMG LEGO STORE WHERE IS IT?"
"It's here! I know it's here! We have to find it!"
After a fairly arduous march — Potomac Mills is one big mall — we found the Lego Store. Sound the heavenly host choir! Rain down the confetti! Raise the trumpets in alarum! Yeah, it was like that. It really was.
He flitted back and forth between attractions like a hummingbird. There were build tables where you could construct Lego creations to your heart's content. There were video screens playing CGI Lego movies. There was a wall full of circular bins each filled with a single type of brick, and you could fill a quart container with your own custom blend of Legos as if you were at a Lego salad bar. Oh, and all of the most vaunted (and expensive) Lego sets, like the $399 Star Wars Death Star, were fully built and on display in Lucite boxes. Lego nirvana! We had reached it.
I had been afraid that the Lego Store would set The Boy off on a greed-based feeding frenzy, but the experience of just being in the store turned out to be the main attraction for him. We bought him a little three-pack of make-your-own minifigures and a ninja skeleton (yes, a ninja skeleton) that was on sale for half price. And we made a promise to come back again in a few months. Because seriously? The Lego Store was pretty darn cool. And Potomac Mills is not that far. And honestly? I could use some new underwear.