We normally go into the shop on Sundays as a family, but last Sunday Jon and Caleb were off doing their own thing, so it was just me and Naomi holding down the fort. It’s always precarious because I’m left to do such questionable things as answer the phone and customer questions about their online orders, or let rogue passersby into the shop to browse and then spend twenty minutes standing at the checkout making awkward small talk while I try to figure out which buttons to press on the debit machine. “Oh no, no. No problem at all. Just grateful you let us in, you know,” they say, with a discreet flick of the wrist. “Really lovely shop, you’ve got.”



Naomi has a mind all her own, various ideas that usually include either the dismantling of something or getting a snack. Both Caleb and Naomi are shop babies that have, somehow, turned into shop kids, and it’s a magical world for them, to come into the warehouse and main shop, a place of actual commerce as compared to the studio shop, which is a relic of the past, a museum archive.


Caleb has, to my delight, begun to actually be productive, helpful in the shop, although I walk that balance all the time, of having him help, contribute to the family business versus giving him the limited freedom he can get as a shop kid encumbered by his parents’ “career” choices. He occasionally helps to sign postcards, and I used to be quite careful about who could receive that illegible scrawl, but now that his handwriting has improved, his postcards are sent out into the world with only limited abandon.


Naomi, on the other, is more of a wild card. She both wants to help and doesn’t want to help. It’s not quite like helping in the kitchen where it’s going to be okay if you don’t peel that carrot perfectly, we’re still going to eat it and tell you you’re wonderful. In the shop, though, you cannot just price tag notebooks with whatever numbers you like, or arbitrarily put packing stickers all over someone’s package. While some customers might not mind it, some customers might, and more importantly papa is going to tell you how much each of those stickers costs.


But it was a delight. A Sunday spent reorganizing the displays, price gunning, standing in front of tables, getting snacks from Agenda, the cafe around the corner, while we waited for Jon and Caleb to come pick us up.


These are my golden days, and I know they are numbered, so I will take them while I have them. If I should be so lucky as to live to a ripe old age, I know these will be my favourite of the days and years I ever have, these days so golden and bright it hurts, the hours passed in the shop with little feet running around, building forts out of cardboard, pricing overripe squash, walking hand in hand to get a special treat around the corner. I know ahead of me are the years when the kids are off on their own adventures on a Sunday afternoon, or for months or years at a time, but for now, we will read our story books in the front window with our cookies and tea.


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December 11, 2021 — Liz Chan



LeeAnn said:

Naomi is so big and tall!
I am sure she loved being first helper, not second helper behind Caleb.

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