Monday, September 28, 2009

Old Things Are New Things If You Son Has Never Seen Them

I try not to idolize stuff. That is I hope to avoid longing for material goods. Things are just tools to be used. Don't get me wrong. I've bought a lot of stuff. I've bought a lot of useless stuff. And, though Alisha may not see it this way, most of it I've gotten rid of over time. But we develop attachments to some things. Sometimes even things that aren't really that important or that have outlived their use, we find ourselves wishing we had kept them. I'd love to have back some of the comic books I know ended up in a landfill or in some evening newspaper. I wish I still had the 1971 Ford Maverick I finally destroyed after several attempts.
Now and then though, things show up that you thought were gone forever. And you'd have probably been alright with them being gone until you look over and see your son playing with it or climbing out of it.When Finnegan was born my parents regifted my old 1960's era wooden plank and rope-handled toybox to him. It's original era is clear due to the faded white cowboy stenciling that is still an emblem of a time when there were three networks and they all were dominated by westerns. Mom cleaned the wood and Dad added locking hinges to keep him from smashing his hands with the lid, something that didn't concern parents (spelled l-a-w-y-e-r-s) of that day.
But now it is Finn's first stop after breakfast. He pulls out a toy and either plays with it or doesn't for 23 seconds and then reaches in for another. More recently he has just made it his job to get the toys out as fast as possible so there is room inside for him. This morning as he stared up at me from the inside corner of the box with a questioning look that could only mean, "What did you do when all the toys were on the outside and you were on the inside?" I didn't have an answer for him so I responded with Confused Father Trick Number 7: Get the camera.
This weekend at the birthday party for our friends' daughter Bryn, a lovely little peer for Finn, my boy started playing on a very plush, well-designed, low-to-the-ground rocking horse. It actually might have been an elephant, but I digress. Finn tried to ride it and understood it instantly. He tired of it just as instantly. Because, while it rocked similarly to the rocking horse he had at home it lacked that 1960s danger.By far Finn's favorite toy, other than my stomach, is the rocking horse that my parents regifted from the Spencer collection. This red and white painted and lacquered pony with a simple flat seat a good 14 inches above runners seemingly designed to pinch, if not sever, plump bare toes, and a painted on face that I have always thought looked more like a muzzled collie than any kind of horse. If it were a horse it would be three decades late for a glue factory. But Gads does he love it!Tirelessly, he will grunt and gasp as he tries to get on, rocks three or four times and then slide off. Pushes it. Stands and grins next to it. Pauses and starts again. He has run over his feet, fallen on his head, pulled the Disney-like wooden head down on him and cried as if bucked by a live bronco. Every time after you pick him up, he grasps at it again with greedy eyes that also seem to call you a coward for not trying to ride.So now my old steed, which I am reminded was beloved by me as well, and my old western toybox have a new life with a new cowboy and I have never enjoyed any of my childhood possessions more. I wouldn't trade them for much of anything. It wouldn't matter if I did. Little cowpoke wouldn't let me.

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