Photo: First loves–Ursa Major loves his Scout doll. He’s had it since he was an infant. I’ve had Fievel since I was four. Underneath them is Buzzy Bee, a pillow pet originally given to Ursa Major but now Ursa Minor’s favorite sleeping companion. It’s funny thing things we become attached to.
The invitations went out this morning for Ursa Major’s big birthday bash at the end of the month. He’s turning the big 4. We’re having a pirate-themed birthday party at a venue. There will be cake. And pizza. And lemonade. And
Didn’t he just make off like a bandit during Christmas time?
I spoke with my mother about this on the phone yesterday. I have been rattling around the idea of asking for no gifts from the fourteen lucky invitees to our big extravaganza. “We don’t need anything else in this house. How many toys does one boy need?”
“As many as people are willing to give him. This isn’t something that you get to chose. You really need to let go of some stuff! If people want to celebrate his birthday with a gift, let them! What’s wrong with you?”
Toys are such a thing. They are given and received with excitement and then they end up in the toybox or in a corner or behind the living room couch or in the attic… 90 percent of the toys my boys receive are played with for the minimal amount of time and then discarded as nothing.
And that makes me angry for many reasons. First, someone took care to make the item. That toy represents someone’s labor. Second, someone took care to purchase that item. That toy represents someone’s money. Third, it teaches the boys that stuff matters, which isn’t a truth. Some stuff matters, but not all of it.
“and they can’t learn that right now, Kyra. The boys are 2 and 3. Get out of your head and let those little boys have their fun.”
My misgivings come from the lessons I’ve learned and the values I’ve picked up. I didn’t have them at 2. or 3. or 4. Hell, I didn’t have them at 7 or 8 or 9. Maybe not even at 20. Well, maybe? I don’t know. “Stuff” changes as the years go by. But I can’t expect the boys to know what I know. For a 4 year-old, birthdays mean cake and presents. That’s it. This is some simple shit.
So. I didn’t add the line to the invitations. Bring on all the cars and trucks. We’ll just make room!
But I’m still thinking about it. The majority of the stuff that comes into this house will be forgotten. Gone are the baby toys with contrasting colors or happy faces. Here are the cars and trucks, the legos and the mega blocks. Do they really need all of this junk? They have so much, a playroom full of toys. A reasonable amount of stuff. Will any of these be the toys they carry with them for their lives? I guess we can’t find out unless more comes in…
For me, it was a stuffed Fievel that I got around the age of 4. Can’t tell you much more about his origin… I don’t know who gave it to me or if he was a Christmas or Birthday gift. All I know is that I loved him and took him with me everywhere. His hat was detached and reattached. His little pants were ripped and repaired. Finally, those things just disappeared. I didn’t take him with me to college because I thought it too childish, but he was the first thing I packed when I moved to Boston. He sits in my little kitchenette closet space (also known as The No Boys Allowed Room), along with other precious things just for me. For my husband, it was legos. He still has his entire collection. Sorted, yes, by color and type. They are all still at his parent’s house in Maryland. “Are the boys ready for them yet?” “No. They don’t understand the rules yet.”
I understand that I’m walking a line that no one actually drew. For some, the philosophy seems to be that children should have as much as possible so that they may pick and choose for themselves however and whenever they want. I wonder, though, what this ultimately teaches kids? We wonder why children right now seem to be so scattered in their thoughts, so unfocused or easily overwhelmed? If you give them all of the choices all of the time, how are they supposed to learn how to widdle stuff down and be content with the decisions that they do, finally, make? I know that it’s just toys right now, but this comes up again later: piano or karate? karate or 4h? Lacross AND football? Honor Society and ballet? If the world is their oyster (or, at least, within the confines of our resources) at such a young age, what does it do for their expectations later on? Is this where all of the entitlement and nonsense that we see right now comes from?
Or maybe this is nothing but a fourth birthday party. Not every pebble makes a ripple in the pond.
What was it for you, dear reader? Is there a toy in your home that you’ve had with you all your life? Like Fievel, is it a toy that magically entered and never left you or is the story of the origin what makes your toy special? Is there something that your children have that they won’t let go of? Do you care about all of the toys that come into your house?
What are you doing on this first Friday of 2015, dear reader? Are you warm and dry? Are you still hung over from the parties of this week and last? Has a resolution already been spoiled, an expectation compromised? Perhaps you are feeling proud, having gone ahead with a commitment that you’ve made. I hope that is so, my dear reader. I hope that you are satisfied today, looking forward to tomorrow and to the rest of this year. We all have so much to do, the days are so uncertain, and yet I am optimistic that this will be a great year. Stay focused, keep dreaming, and chase your ambitions with your mind and heart open to all of the possibilities that present themselves. That is my wish for you, this Friday, dear reader. I wish for you to stay hungry and focused, I wish you the light and fresh feeling of a new day and a new challenge, and the bravery to step forward with vigor. I wish you something warm around your shoulders to combat this winter cold and something well prepared in your belly to help keep you energized. I wish you open arms to greet you along the way, maybe a new friendship to look forward to, words and whispers to keep your mind sharp, and beautiful scenery to inspire you as you go. I wish you the knowledge that you are loved and admired, near and far, known and unknown. I wish you the wisdom of loving others in return, expressed and unexpressed. And, as always, I wish you joy. Because it’s Friday. Our first of 2015. There is too much to look forward to for us to be anything but happy to be here.
Until Monday, take care.