Marking eight years since Kazoodles opened has had us reminiscing a bit. I will never forget the first time a mom told me, “He woke up today saying, ‘I want to go to Kazoodles!’” That’s not just music to a shopkeeper’s ears, it’s a full symphony.
Then there was the boy who, with a full store of toys to explore, got in a cardboard box we’d just emptied and had all kinds of imaginary fun.
And Jacob, age 4, who kept bringing me games and asking, “Miss Mary, how do you play this?” I’d have to admit I didn’t know. Finally I told him, “Jacob, my kids are all grown and my husband works nights, so when I get home from work there’s no one to play with.” Jacob looked me in the eye and said, “Miss Mary, you need to make some friends!”
Mr. Duane loves to bring his dog, Sally, to the store. (Sally’s a Folkmanis puppet, but don’t tell her that.) One day Sally and a little girl were having a nice chat at a play table. After awhile there was a puddle on the floor. The girl’s mom scolded her for having an accident. “I didn’t do it,” the girl insisted. “Sally did it!” In the end, we learned that another child had spilled a drink.
Sally played a role in an experience that still brings tears to our eyes. Sally, as usual, was chatting with 3-year-old Amber when suddenly Amber started screaming, “Puppy! Puppy!” Mr. Duane thought he’d scared her, especially when her parents came running, tears streaming down. “Mommy! Puppy!” Amber said over again. Mr. Duane had tears in his eyes, too, when he learned Amber has autism and those were the first words she’d ever said in her life. Even Sally was crying, he said.
The Doorbell House from Melissa & Doug played a role with another 3-year-old who had never spoken, his mom relayed. He loved that toy so much, he’d wake up in the morning talking about it.
It’s been gratifying to help kids with special needs find toys that make therapy fun or help them focus in the classroom. We love being a part of the lives of all Kazoodles kids, from searching out what they need for a class project to fulfilling those quirky interests kids can have.
Like the time a dad came in and said, “All my daughter wants for her birthday is a stuffed turkey.” It’s so much fun to say, “Yes, we have that!”
Every day is endlessly entertaining at Kazoodles as we eavesdrop on kids while they play. Thank you for sharing your greatest treasures, your children, with us. We hope we bring them as many wonderful, magical memories as they bring us.