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“Our second son, Matty, didn't have a G.I. Joe, but he did have a Big Jim,” wrote Judy McKeehan.
“Big Jim had a big plastic Jeep. Matty decided that Big Jim needed a wife, so he asked for a Barbie for his birthday.”
Matty had the same birthday as his dad, Mike.
Well, there was a birthday party for Matty. While opening the box containing the Barbie, he realized his friends were watching him. So when he pulled out the doll he said, “Here, Dad, this must be for you.”
A) I could never keep it going. B) We should have been wearing helmets. C) It was OK, if you enjoy hurtling out of control. D) My friends and I were too light to really make the spring work. E) It used to scare me when adults tried it. I just knew they were going to get hurt. F) Other.
It wasn't really all that much fun.
At least not if you used an actual Wiffle Ball (registered trademark).
Sure the holes in the white plastic ball allowed it to simulate curveballs. Or so it said on the box.
But that design also kept it from traveling far or fast. Playing backyard baseball with an actual Wiffle Ball was like being in the dead ball era.
No, what you wanted was a plastic ball that was solid on the outside. Pitchers could get plenty of heat on their fastballs and still achieve remarkable movement. And hitters could smack line-drives and long home runs — not just wounded ducks fluttering back to the pitcher.
Reasonable people can disagree about this.
But it says here that playing wiffle ball with a Wiffle Ball was a slow-motion drag.
And he or she will immediately begin to take liberties with the published route and schedule.
But that's nothing. In the hands of action-craving children, there tends to be an appalling number of accidents.
At least that's the way it used to be.
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — Police in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez ticketed a 6-year-old boy for reckless driving, driving without a license and not having his toy motorcycle registered after he crashed it into an SUV.
The boy's mother, Karla Noriega, says police also impounded the child-sized motorbike that her son got for Christmas after he ran into an SUV at a park on Dec. 27.
Noriega says she decided to go to the media and make the case public after finding out she would have to pay what she calls a “ridiculous” $183 in fines before she could recover the toy motorbike.
She says authorities dropped the fines and released the motorcycle to her son Gael on Wednesday after local newspapers published her story.
My son, who has been working in Japan, is on his way home. We haven't seen him in several months and I'm hungry for some time with him. My son has grown up to be a wonderful man; an adventurer, a tinkerer and a master of creating complex machines from bits of metal.
He'll be home for Christmas Eve and wrapping his gifts and putting them under the tree, thought about the boy who loved contraptions and I was reminded of something he taught me one Christmas years ago.
(I had to do some digging to find a copy of this early column.)
The Spokesman Review
December 25, 2003 | Cheryl-Anne Millsap The Valley Voice
Early each Christmas morning, as I turn out the lights and make my way to my bed, knowing I will be pulled out of it again when the sun rises, I stop for a moment, overwhelmed by memories and the knowledge that time is flying past me.
The children, who have been the reason I wake each morning and fall into an exhausted sleep each night, are growing up so quickly. Already one has left the nest, and another is perched on the edge. Their Christmas lists are more sophisticated now, with high-tech gadgets replacing Easy-Bake ovens and G.I. Joe.
When my son was six, he fell under the spell of a miniature arcade game, the kind where you manipulate a giant claw to pick up prizes and stuffed animals and drop them down a chute. He wanted the game more than anything and put it at the top of his Christmas list.
He was thrilled when he found the game under the tree and played with it constantly. But it was a complicated toy that was never meant to go the distance. When it stopped working, he was disappointed and put it away in his closet.
I didn't think about it again until the next year on Christmas Eve when I was getting everyone ready for bed and another visit from Santa. He walked in and placed the broken game under the Christmas tree with a note asking Santa to please repair it.
I could only gape at him, speechless. It was already midnight and to paraphrase the poet, there were miles to go before we could sleep.
My little boy had no idea that his mother was staggering under the weight of postpartum depression or that his father, who was in graduate school and wearied by final exams, was scheduled to work a 24-hour shift on Christmas Day.
My son wasn't jumpy and distracted from listening for the cries of the colicky baby sister or thinking about the 2 a.m. feeding that would cut into the few productive hours of the night.
The way he saw it, Santa brought that game to him and he would want to know there was a problem. And since the big guy was going to be in the neighborhood, it wouldn't hurt to have him take a look at a broken toy. So he left it with a note asking that Santa “make it work again.”
Somehow, the two elves-in-residence, Sleepy and Weepy, did everything that needed to be done. The baby got her 2 a.m. feeding and Santa placed the surprises, including the refurbished toy, under the tree before the children woke with the dawn.
I was watching my son the next morning when he found the game. He was pleased but he wasn't surprised. It was just where he expected it to be. His face shining with pleasure, he took it to the kitchen table, turned it this way and that to admire Santa's handiwork, and began to play contentedly while new presents waited under the tree.
Whenever I am confronted with the reality that life doesn't come with guarantees, I think about that Christmas morning. And when I think about it, I wish I could be seven years old again, with that much trust in everyone around me to do the right thing. I wish I hadn't learned that sometimes things break so completely that no one can fix them, not even Santa. Not even for a day.
Now, years have passed. Dad got through graduate school, Mom got over the blues, and the new baby stopped crying. The toy, which wasn't built to last, stopped working again and found its way back to the closet, to be eventually taken apart and its parts scavenged for a little boy's inventions.
For my son it was proof that Santa cared enough about him to take the time to try to make something work again. For the elves, it was an exercise in patience. For all of us it was a sweet reminder that love has responsibility.
Maybe this year under the tree I'll leave my heart, just to see what Santa can do.
But I'm sure many boys who played with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots went on to lead productive lives.
This would be another contender for the title.
The definitive account of why “electric football” was insane can be found in Bill Bryson's “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.”
But the truth is, this list could go on and on.
Everyone loves a Slinky. At least they did for a little while.
…because it was partly filmed in our area 20 years ago. (Scenes of Palouse fields.)
But I cannot remember anything about it. How about you?
When my son was 2, he used to play with dolls. Now at 5, he wouldn’t be caught anywhere near one.
I never discouraged him to stop playing with dolls – in fact, I prefer them to the superhero action figures – but somewhere along the line, he got the message somewhere that only girls play with dolls.
Earlier this month on the website for Mothering magazine, writer Joe Troxell discussed how his wife bought a cotton doll for their son when he was just an infant. She named the doll “Ollie.”
“I tried to look as expressionless as the limp Ollie in my hand,” Troxell wrote in his essay, “Real Boys Play With Dolls.” “Nathan was not yet a year old. In the next few years there would be plenty of time to undo this affront to his masculinity. It would mean I would just have to buy him his first BB gun sooner than I’d expected, or start giving him baseball cards and sporting equipment at every religious holiday—even holidays I’d never heard of before.”
Troxell wrote about growing up in the rural south and learning traditional gender roles. So he was frustrated to see his son take to the doll and eventually bring Ollie wherever he went as a toddler.
Over time, however, he discovered that his “aversion to my son’s playing with a doll might be based on obsolete traditions that no longer served their original purposes.” When he asked his wife if there were any benefits to having boys play with dolls, she replied: “Do you want Nathan to someday grow up and be a good dad? … So he’ll need to have qualities like compassion, sensitivity, and patience, as well as some practical experience with things like holding a baby, right?”
Troxell explores the issue in his essay and comes to this conclusion: “In a culture that often equates masculinity with violence and exploitative behavior, I can think of no better toy for a young boy than a doll to help him model kindness and responsibility for his actions. … If we want the next generation of men to be good fathers, compassionate citizens, and sensitive leaders, perhaps this process begins with something as simple and as countercultural as a childhood doll.”
How about you? Did your sons play with dolls?