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The Kid’s Zone at Chapters has been a life saver for many parents I know. Where else could you go to have a coffee, talk to fellow parents, let the kids interact and play with each other, read them a story, pick up a magazine for yourself and get your Christmas shopping done all at the same time. I wrote about going there in Time Changes. Morning, noon and night, we’ve taken our son to the “book store” and everyone enjoyed ourselves. We’ve used various locations across the country as breaks when on the road or travelling – it makes for a familiar spot when you’re in a new city – and as every parent knows this can be a great comfort to little ones.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to use the past tense. After the library today, myself and a friend headed to the local Chapter’s with promises of trains for our sons, coffee for ourselves and perhaps a few last minute gifts in the bag. Alas, when we get there, “train gone” as my son said. We were told by the woman working the section, that they were told to remove the train tables and that in the future there would most likely only be a couple of  chairs and the teacup in order to focus on books.

Sounds great in theory – bookstore focussing on books. However, in reality, life doesn’t work that way. Here are some of the realities.

  1. Reality is that if I just want to read a story with my son, I stay at home or go to the library.
  2. Reality is that the only time that I get into the book store these days is when my son is playing with the trains, other kids or reading a book in the Kid’s Zone while I get a coffee, talk to a friend and browse the books.
  3. Reality is that it would have also been great of the store to warn parents that the train will be gone as of X date – that way my friend wouldn’t be having to console her child, another mother wouldn’t be pushing two screaming kids in a stroller out the door and I wouldn’t have to lie to my child that the train was broken and had to be fixed.
  4. Reality is that I’ve rarely walked out of Chapter’s empty handed – either I’ve bought a book, a toy, a coffee, a magazine or a gift.
  5. Reality is that with the trains and toys gone, Chapter’s has just become another store I’ll be avoiding in order to prevent unneeded meltdowns due to boredom and “don’t touch” choruses.
  6. Reality is that we went to another store that still welcomed kids to be kids, and well I didn’t walk out empty handed from there.

I really hope that either the information we received today was wrong or that Chapter’s reconsiders their policy regarding the Kid’s Zone. It’s been a great place that encourages literacy, community and social interaction for kids and parents alike. Aside from that, from a purely economic view, most of what I spend at Chapter’s is done while taking advantage of the Kid’s Zone.