Sometimes choices are difficult ones.

You know, whether or not to go on vacation or save money during this economy, what percentage of your paycheck should go to your 401k, and…what toy to buy at Target.

That was the choice that plagued my oldest son last month, when we made a trip to the bullseye store to spend a gift card he received for his birthday. The dilemma? I promised him we would go, yet I had his younger brother with me. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I knew better than to think letting one kid choose a gift while the other one stands there watching would go smoothly or without some sort of conflict.

Of course, I tried all the pre-warnings, the reasoning, the explaining that this was a gift for big brother’s birthday and his birthday was just around the corner, and we all seemed to be in agreement. ‘Seemed’ would be the key word. By the way, I’d love to know when birthdays turned into celebrations for every child in the family, not just the one turning a year older? Gotta love grandparents, who will often bring a thoughtful something for the sibling so they won’t feel slighted. But, it wasn’t that way growing up. And even more importantly, that was okay. I got that my sister was having a birthday and my time would come. That’s how the aging process works. Happy birthday to you, and eventually happy birthday to me.

And so there we were, in the toy aisle, standing among 7 aisles of gadgets and games that made little boys heads swirl, and I found myself refereeing both sides of the fence. My oldest was torn, so torn, on whether to buy the Nerf dart double-shooter complete with laser light for use in the dark, or the Bakugan, the new one that so-and-so brought to school that day, and boy wouldn’t that ‘just be so cool?‘ Or this item or that item, as he became lost in the world of shiny and new.

We didn’t really have to be anywhere else, so I stood by with patience I never knew I had while one tried to make the decision of his life and the other pleaded that he needed a shiny and new something, too.

My 8-year-old eventually settled on something, and I caved in regards to my youngest, allowing him to choose a helicopter from the endcap for three bucks, all the while wondering if those red ‘Help’ phones randomly placed throughout the store are for parents stuck in the toy aisle who need some sort of counseling.

We arrived home to find our dinner cold and a husband who wondered if we went to Target in another state, and I watched as my kids ran out back to play…

…only to take turns with the fascinating three-dollar helicopter.

Love it.