When Toys Become Real, like Velveteen

I’ve made a pact with myself, resulting from 12 years of managing child paraphernalia. The only toys I keep are the wooden ones. Everything else, I will give away. Nothing plastic will make it to my attic, where my boys will come home someday with their own children, as I eagerly pull out treasure after treasure and say, “Your Dad used to love to wear his blue Superman cape while he spent hours building this train.” When my boys are men, it will be a pleasure to sit with someone else, who looks like my son did, and hold these same toys, keeping the magic of childhood alive forever.

The toys are the memory triggers. It will be hard to remember, just what they said, just how intent they were, without the actual toy to remind me. I forget so many things as time slips by.

There are exceptions to the “no-plastics” rule. Anything Toy Story related will not make into the box that I give away. Virtually all of these toys are plastic, and in the hands of my son these toys had life in them. He lined them up at the breakfast table while he ate his hummus. This one held a rocket launcher in his left hand, and this one talked. The web of his childhood, the man he would become, was intertwined within the life he gave to this heap of lime-green plastic. I know it is selfish, but packing these toys away to give to someone else, to recycle them, is like selling the soul. No, I can’t give these away.

Andy, in Toy Story, hung on to his toys. The entire movie is built on the romantic notion that childhood can be savored, prolonged, and immortalized if we are diligent to keep the toys around in the rooms where we live.

I am worse with clothes. I’m keeping them; for a quilt I might learn to make some day. That pair of faded blue overalls he wore while playing on the dust-bunny covered floor is more precious to me than any christening outfit could ever be.

Fortunately, two more boys came along just after the first two, delaying the inevitable moment when I will round up all the toys into a box and put them away, or, recycle them. In 12 years, I have yet to face bare floors. As much as the mess overwhelms me, and wears me down, the day my house is devoid of little figures, tiny screws, and battery compartments that no longer stay attached, will be a sad day.

The toys in our house have not been without their own mishaps. There was the day when Buzz was sat up in the driveway, and Daddy rolled over it with his car, and Buzz was smashed to smithereens.  Lost pieces, and things that have been chewed beyond recognition. Still, from what is left, I garnered the courage to roundup a collection of things my children are no longer interested in, could no longer wear, and believed my memories could survive without. I went to the children’s resale shop. They turned me down. “These items,” they said, “were too worn. We can’t sell these.” Rather than hang my head in shame, I walked out with my box and thought of the Velveteen Rabbit, and the day he became real, like the skin horse, from so much love.

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10 comments on “When Toys Become Real, like Velveteen
  1. Susie, this is such a warm post =) The other day, I packed all the baby clothes that were not “that memorable” into big bags and drove to an orpanage and gave it to them.
    I’m writing a post about it.
    It was the most heart warming experience I’ve had in a long time.

  2. Pingback: The Parent Bloggers Network » Save, Share, and Simplify with Zwaggle

  3. I know how hard that is to do. I attach emotion to objects. It’s a terrible and wonderful habit.

    Have you tried freecycle? Even a local women’s shelter?

    I bet there are kids in your city that would love those toys…worn or not.

  4. i saw a great idea for old clothes… making an Xmas tree skirt. cut out shapes (like stars) and sew or glue them onto a skirt, and each christmas you’ll have those pieces of fabric under your tree.

    must check out zwaggle…

  5. I haven’t been able to keep a lot of stuff because of the small space we have here. But that’s allowed me to crystallize it down to the really good stuff.

    I use Freecycle a lot too, mostly to give away big stuff like playpens,–but I see lots of little stuff, like “box of well-loved misc. toys,” too.

  6. Whenever we watch Toy Story (i.e. 6 times per week on average) my two-year-old asks “Why is Buzz sad?” after he sees the TV commercial.

    “He just found out he’s a toy,” I explain.

    Her brow furrows. “But,” she protests each time, “he’s ANDY’s toy!”

  7. Pingback: What REAL Toys Look Like | Susiej

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