Half Mother, Half Child

While in Boulder last month, I picked up a few little gifts for Archer: little plastic animals that expand and grow into HUGE plastic animals when you put them under water. Because I knew he would really appreciate them. I knew he would freak the fuck out because they were just so cool. Except that while digging through my wallet for my credit card, I realized that really I was buying them for me. That Archer wouldn't care about such objects. But I did. I couldn't wait to get home so I could put the plastic tiger in a bowl and watch it expand up to 600 times its original size.

I was embarassed to admit it so I told no one. I paid the man in the Rob Zombie t-shirt, put the toys in my pocket and went on my way.

This has happened more than I care to admit. Something catches my eye. A plastic Dragon or a little toy train. Something charming and quirky. Something I would have loved as a child. And time after time, I bring home treasures that go untouched, unloved, unnoticed.

And a part of me takes it personally. The little girl in me, perhaps, who misses playing with toys. Barbies and Lincoln Logs and little plastic animals my mother bought me at the Zoo. Madame Alexander dolls and toy soldiers.

I am convinced that half if not all of the toys and gifts and items we bring home to our children are just things we wish we could have had when we were little. I would have loved this! I find myself saying. Maybe Archer will too!

I'm pretty sure that consumer holidays are a success because shoppers end up buying all of the stuff they always wanted. I don't think I'm the only parent who brings toys home to her child, only to play with them in secret while he's napping. I've spent hours working on a single Lego-house, only to fight back tears when Archer knocks it down with one roundhouse kick. NoooOOOO! That was MY house! Eh!

Sometimes I go overboard and I have to stop myself. Because ant farms and sea-monkeys and pet rats are MY FAVORITE. But they will have to wait for when Archer's older. Even though, I beg myself for them. Please can I buy a butterfly habitat? Pretty please?

Sure, adult toys are fun-- electronics and all of the wonderful gidgets and gadgets. But there is nothing like ripping the plastic off of a brand new set of matchbox cars. There is nothing like a red wagon with a big bow tied around the handle. Or a set of plastic jungle animals that expand up to 600 times their original size under water.



Anonymous | 12:31 AM

lol you kill me. I bought my little sister those growing sponges because I wanted to play with them... and I bought her lincoln logs because I really wish I had some to play with... lol.

joker the lurcher | 12:51 AM

hey - and why not! my sister bought me a battery operated noo-noo for my 40th birthday and it has pride of place on my desk. my colleagues also love playing with it. there is nothing so funny as watching a uniformed police officer (i work in a team with police folks) playing with a noo-noo...

Leigh C. | 3:27 AM

I have to hold myself down sometimes because I will see toys and gadgets that are just TOO COOL and the little guy will love them too, I just know it!

There needs to be some sort of test that measures kid vs. parent love of toys when we are all out at retail world, something similar to a breathalyzer. If a parent and a kid see a toy at the same time, you take the test and determine who likes the toy more and how long that like will last.

Thatis, if you can chase down your kid while the little one is running through the aisles...

Unknown | 4:58 AM

My Sambo buys Riley Magnetics because he says "They will help with Geometry later on". Really he just loves playing with them as much as she does.

k.thedoula | 6:12 AM

Brio train set.
Playmobile crane (put away for next year, tears sprang to husbands eyes... yeah it was on sale, but he is TOO YOUNG FOR IT!)
Doll house furniture... she is a year old! She doesn't care about furniture. Just being able to take it and bang it on the floor is enough...
I buy them books like this. I want to read it, so obviously they will.
It's a disease we can't be cured of. Nothing wrong with that! NOTHING!
looking forward to animal pictures *hint... we left ours in the tub overnight... the zoo came alive all at once.

merseydotes | 6:25 AM

I bought Petunia a Fraggle (Red) for her birthday that came with a Fraggle Rock DVD. When it became apparent that the grandparents bought Petunia more stuff than any three-year-old could possibly process, we shelved the Fraggle until Christmas. Last night, I was finishing up the wrapping, I realized that I wanted my kid to love Fraggle Rock because my sister and I did, but she probably would never care because all she wanted from Santa was Dora, Ariel and Barbie. So...the brand-new Fraggle is now in a box for the local homeless shelter that serves women and families.

Anonymous | 6:52 AM

...I had that same train : )

Momo | 7:05 AM

Ambivalence...the perfect word for your words/thoughts...there are times when you are so for lost causes...and times when you just play with little plastic animals...no wander that you are a gemini...for me this is called perfection! IS IT DIFFERENT FOR YOU...

motherbumper | 9:16 AM

Oh sweet momma, we have so many "me" toys in Casa Bump it ain't funny and husband isn't falling for it anymore. When I got my first paycheque back as a teenager, the first thing I bought was a Mr. Potato Head because I never had one before (then I got the pack of smokes - I never said I was smart). It felt so good to get the toy I always wanted. I wonder what Bumper and Archer's favorite denied toys will be?

Kristen | 9:28 AM

Oh man, I love those water-expanding toys. Awesome!

And my experience has been that the older the kids get, the more they really DO enjoy the things I think I would have as a kid. Archer will be there before you know it.

B | 10:20 AM

My husband has a hard time playing blocks with our daughters because it upsets him so much when they knock stuff down! He mopes about the house for 10-20 minutes afterwards!

Anonymous | 12:07 PM

Your posts are always RIGHT ON POINT.

Now that you mention it, you wizard, this is so true! I actually begged my daughter to choose a Kimberly doll on Ebay. Because, um, I never had one. So sad. And wrong. Yet it feels so right when I put on her little roller skates. Squeee!

Anonymous | 3:51 PM

WORD! One of the perks of parenthood is getting to buy toys we (the parents) think are cool! I don't even feel guilty or silly about it; I figure it balances out the lack of sleep.

(Of course, we still have full-size video games in our garage so, obviously, we never gave up toys anyway.)

Wendy | 5:04 PM

I think this is the reason why the "kids" are getting so much for Christmas. There are so many things I cant wait to play with.

Perfect example: the train set for our 4 yr old daughter and 10.5 month old son. I know there will be a lot of dont touch we just put it together.

I, also, bought my daughter the Madeline house when she was a year old. It was a great deal. I am constantly rearranging the furniture and dressing Madeline the way I want. I have informed hubby that it will go into the attic when it has lost favor. They will have to rip it from my cold dead hands.

Anonymous | 5:39 PM

I buy HotWheels cars all the time for myself. And I dont have a kid at all!! What I do have is a friend who buys them too!! We have a huge collection of them together. We race them any chance we get. She has a daughter who has no interest in them. Part of us is sad that her little girl wont play with us, but another more bad-asser part of us is just glad that we dont have to share and we can keep our dirty-little-not-so-secret to ourselves!

Anonymous | 7:41 PM

oh I get you!!!My 6 year old daughter never played with a doll in her life though she has almost 30 barbies,4 barbie houses teh amanda doll and allysen

kittenpie | 8:30 PM

Heh, I totally got one of those fish for an advent calendar goodie! And all sorts of great little detailed rubber animals, (which she does play with, in my defense) because they are just so neat. And Brio trains, but again, she does play with them somewhat. I think she is more into the trains than the tracks, though, so all the nifty connecting pieces are prolly for me.