“It’s a toy.”
She repeated her answer three times, each time accentuating the word toy. It’s the same tone and technique she uses on the kid for the words “milk” “bedtime” and “poopies.”
“It’s a collector’s item,” I explained. “His ‘Little People’ train set is a toy. The television remote is, now, a toy. This is a COLLECTOR’S ITEM.” Heavy emphasis on the words collector’s and item even though those words are as important to her as the phrases mint condition or rare. Both mean poopie.
“It’s just the Hugh Jackman toy, right?”
Did she think Hugh Jackman was one of the X-Men? She was just saying Hugh Jackman because he played Wolverine in the movies, right? She doesn’t really think the X-Men are Cyclops, Storm and Hugh Jackman? Was this a diversion to get me off topic? No time to ask. Stay on point, Chris!
“Just explain to him that he can’t touch your stuff,” she offered in her ‘let’s move on’ tone. “He’ll understand.”
Explanation is futile. He is almost two, and into everything in the house, so he won’t understand the difference between his Wolverine figure that I bought to distract him from my Wolverine action figure, still in the package and in near mint condition that I got for a steal at a flea market. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll freely admit, I’ve given him things he’s usually forbidden to play with in the hope of getting his attention off my schwag. It’s the reason that the TV remote is now jammed under the hood of a dump truck. “What’s in this door, buddy? Ohhhhhhhh the SPICE RACK! Here, shake this container of bouillon cubes. It’s like a homemade maraca.”
I wanted to call my dad to ask another father’s opinion on the matter but there were two issues with this idea. The first issue is that my father never had this problem with me because he didn’t collect anything, or at least anything of interest to a kid. He had a collection of vintage whiskey decanters that were about as interesting as a collection of vintage whiskey decanters. The second issue is that my son is my father’s first and only grandchild (so far) and as far as the old man is concerned, the kid can have anything he wants — especially his father’s toys. But I asked him anyway. “Hide the toys,” he said. “Put them away and don’t think about displaying them again until the kid leaves for college. Also, grow up.”
It’s a weird concept, hiding toys from your kid, but in this case they aren’t just toys but collector’s items. I’m not a real collector but what I’ve collected is based on factors more important than worth and rarity. My original Snake-Eyes with weapons in the plastic baggie and the King of the Hill Dale Gribble still in package are on the shelves in my office because they rate off the charts in immeasurable categories like sentimentality, vindication for not getting them as a kid and nostalgia for a time in my life that I’ll never get back.
It’s only a matter of time. I can’t keep my eyes on those toys forever. He’ll be old enough to grab them off the shelves, find the boxed comics in the closet and uncover the Holy Grail hiding under the Christmas ornaments in the basement — a massive Tupperware tub jammed with original Star Wars figures, GI Joe vehicles and every lion needed to assemble Voltron.
I’ve got only one choice — I’ve got to sit him down with my stuff and explain it’s dad’s, but dad would be more than happy to share it all with him if he learns how to treat the collector’s items toys with care. There is a way to hold the toys, and look at them, without…
No Storm Troopers were injured during the writing of this blog.
[Chris Illuminati is a writer and a dad. He blogs about parenting, one Post-It note at a time, at Message With a Bottle.]