Sunday, April 02, 2006

How do I love thee ... let me count the toys


After Ittybit’s bedtime I gather a bunch of toys left helter-skelter in the “Blue Area” — an empty question mark of a room situated between the master bedroom and the rest of the house, which my husband inexplicably painted the color of painter’s masking tape — and make my way to the playroom where they belong.

As I crouch on the floor near the toy bins, adjusting the small figures this way and that, it might appear to the untrained eye that I am merely tidying up.
My husband is not fooled.

Since my tiny two-year-old has started throwing up her hands at the “Mamarazzi” (‘No pishers, mama. No pishers, peas.’) I have turned my lens on HER toys. It’s regressive, I know, but it fills the void in my photographs where she once stood. I set the camera on a table and adjust the focus. Click. Inching the accessories forward just a bit, I reset the camera, re-check the focus and … click.

“Come on, she knows they’re YOUR toys,” my husband chuckles as I claw through a small box of figures. I am reminded of why I married him when he asks me if I’d like a bowl of ice cream while I play with MY toys.

It turns out, with respect to collections at least, I am like my father.
My dad would spend hours setting up his old train set under the tree every Christmas. One oval-shaped track, an engine and a handful of cars could consume the better part of an entire day. Forward and backward he’d send that train around the track, never letting it speed out of control or derail. He spent so much time giving detailed lessons on the set’s operation that when he was willing to hand over the controls we had already moved on to another game.

Unlike my father, who was satisfied with his small Lionel set, I covet what I don’t already own, and brand loyalty isn’t part of my vocabulary. My latest obsession is Playmobil. I can’t seem to pass a toy store without adopting one of the jewel-box sized “Specials.”

I like the ones that depict everyday scenes such as a woman in the laundry room or a mother grocery shopping. I one day hope to own the construction site portable toilet with crews and the airport screening line. They’ve even replaced my love of fast-food toys.

There’s just something satisfying about these German-made toys with their simple shapes, their smooth colors and ever-present smiles. They are always smiling, even when they’re vacuuming or shoveling elephant dung at the zoo.

I can’t imagine cleaving my life to another’s who didn’t share, or at least respect, such simple pleasures as the small toys that dwell in kids’ meals. I’d sheepishly go through the drive-through windows of fast food restaurants, order a Happy Meal and a coffee, pretending to be a mom with a kidlet to go home to just so I could collect all of the toy prizes from Toy Story, Batman and Shrek. I knew I’d married wisely when my husband ingested pride, happy meals and antacids (in that order) to procure some of my most beloved trinkets.

Even on our honeymoon in New Zealand, while most people would be busy visiting as many natural splendors as possible, he was willing to indulge my plaything fascination and risk 16 hours of travel time and our next room reservation to visit the “MacDonald’s Toys of the World Museum,” a private, basement collection listed in a book of “local attractions” provided by our motel in Foxton.

That is why I know my husband feels my pain as Ittybit thwarts my camera lens with a furrowed brow and an outstretched hand. I know he’d like to be able to ease it with a little ice cream and a kids’ meal toy.

I’m not sure enough can be said about a man who knows your weaknesses and loves you because of them, and not despite them.

“You know,” he says, handing me a bowl of Rocky Road, “these photographs would look really good in the blue room.”

1 comment:

Be Still said...

These shots are super cute! Given your penchant for yoga and kid's toys, you might find this site interesting: