You remember the storyline of “Toy Story 3,” right? If not…let’s recap. Woody and his pals are put in a box and are ready for the junkheap because their “boy”, Andy, is all grown up and has no need for them. That is the premise and there are great adventures and eventually, the toys find their way back to Andy for an emotional ending.
Cue to MY house.
I decided it was time for spring cleaning. Had to happen because BOTH of my kids had been neglecting their rooms and, quite frankly, they were a disaster. Also our downstairs living room (which doubles as a kids playroom) had apparently been hit by a tornado so…dad went to work. And as always, there were casualties. The random Happy Meal toy…GONE! A stick from some backyard adventure…GONE! A couple hairbands with strands of hair attached…GONE! A Barbie shoe without a double…GONE! Pillows were fluffed and beds were made. The vacuum found its way out of its hiding place and floors were swept. Needless to say, I was a busy beaver for about 6 hours. Everything was looking good. I had about 5 garbage bags of trash ready to go when the kids got home from school and admired my handy work.
Ava was happy with my cleaning job, proclaiming me her new hero and she even told me that she had never seen her room so clean!
In Christopher’s room, Christopher was looking over everything. I told him I had put some things up in his closet, rearranged some of his playthings and organized his trophy shelves and such. He looked around the room and then did the unthinkable. He went over to his bed and, in one fell swoop, gathered up his 6 or 7 stuffed animals that he ALWAYS had in their place on his bed and handed them to me.
“I’m too old for them now. Can we just put them up in the closet also?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. Obviously this HAD to happen at some point but I hadn’t expected it to be so sudden. I imagined they would fall behind his bed and then would be left there or maybe Stella would start picking them off one by one, chewing on limbs or fins or whatever. But not like this. This was too easy! He wasn’t even blinking at the idea of putting them away and for whatever reason…this hit home with me.
“You sure, buddy?”
He looked over them as he handed them to me. He glanced at the cast of characters that had been decorating his bed for so long. Barkley the dog (the namesake of our REAL dog), a dolphin, 2 teddy bears (minus his favorite, Teddy, who is still down in the laundry room waiting to be washed from some art work disaster), a small stuffed pug and another dog of which I have forgotten its name. He glanced them over…
I took a deep breath and held his animals in my hands. “Okay…well…I’ll put them up here and if you ever want them, you can get to them, okay?”
“Okay dad. I wonder if AJ or Erik might want them (his cousins).”
This idea was a good one (see “Toy Story 3”) but for whatever reason, I don’t want that to happen. These animals are HIS childhood. So I’m pretty sure, they’re safe. These pals of his won’t be going anywhere out of our house. But I tell him that’s a good thought and I start to close his closet door when I stop for a second.
“You absolutely sure?” I look back at him and I see he’s thinking about it. I don’t know why, but this actually made me feel better that he was considering the whole situation. Then…
“Ya know…can I have Barkley back? He’s my favorite and the first stuffed animal my Grandpa gave me. I’d like to keep him with me.”
“Sure thing, bud. Here ya go.” And I reached up and handed Barkley back to him. Barkley is in serious need of some work. His stuffing is flat and his fur all matted but this is HIS. If anything can sum up a childhood, it’s a child’s favorite stuffed animal and so…for now…he keeps a little of that with him. I know he’s 10 and I know it’s time but still…I’m glad he held on to that one animal, just for now. It tells me I still have a little time. He’s not all grown up just yet…and with that thought…I took a deep breath and went on with my day.
Barkley & Barkley