642 Things – 89: The toy you most treasured

I actually wrote a chapter about this in my second book, The Coconut Monkey Horror. So I’m going to go ahead and just re-use that chapter here.

Perhaps it was a little cruel of me to start my first book like I did. Let’s face it, The Sock Story does not paint my mother in the best light, and the chapter about my Dad, although it came from a place of love, was not a loving testament like he received earlier in this book. And that’s really unfair, because my parents are pretty amazing people.

When I did community theater, or played sports as a child, I knew for certain my parents would be in the crowd every single time. Those poor people sat through every play I was in about a dozen times each. When I had farfetched dreams or goals, they always supported me, and never tried to get me to dream smaller. I’ve used this line many times, but I think it’s the truest representation of my parents I can provide. If tomorrow, at the young age of 32 years old, I went to my parents and announced that after much soul searching, I had decided that my true life ambition was to be an astronaut, they’d buy me a space suit for Christmas.

I’ve always loved and respected my parents. They’ve always loved and supported me. Far beyond what was called for. My parents would have been well within their rights to cut me off completely at 18. They’re job was done, legally I was an adult. But they helped me with college, and car insurance, and little things here and there. They let me move back in with them when I was pursuing my film career. They even sat me down and encouraged me to write my first book.

All pretty impressive stuff, especially when you consider that I was adopted. That’s probably the reason why I’ve never in my life wanted to say “you’re not my real parents!” in a fit of anger. Because they are my real parents. My mother couldn’t have kids, but clearly she and my father had so much love to give that they went out HUNTING for recipients of that love. And I’m glad they did.

I grew up assuming everybody loved their parents as much as I did. That’s human nature isn’t it? We all grow up assuming our lives are normal. But as an adult I find that most of my friends have an indifferent relationship with their parents, at best. Some of them flat out dislike their folks. One friend, we’re gonna call her Monica, recently told me that her father was coming in from out of state to visit her. She made this announcement the same way you’d announce that you just found out you had terminal cancer. Even my closest friend, The Princess, famously said to me “That’s right, I keep forgetting you actually LIKE your parents.”

To attempt to balance the scales of the hard time my parents received in the first book, I’m going to share an embarrassing tale from my childhood. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. My parents had adopted me at the age of 2. I was their first child….and this is what they were stuck with. I share these details because I really want you to see my parents NOT from the eyes of the little child in the forthcoming story, but through your own. As a child what they did felt perfectly normal to me, as an adult I can see it as another testament to what great parents they really are.

At the time our story begins, I have a favourite toy. It’s a large stuffed Fievel, from An American Tail. He’s about the size of a really large teddy bear, and perfectly soft. He was ideal for snuggling, which I liked to do when I was sleepy. I can’t even recall where he came from. He was either a gift from my parents, or from my grandmother. Either way, he was loved.

One thing I’ve never been good at is getting rid of things. I’m a bit of a hoarder. I don’t mean I keep stacks of old newspaper and garbage, but I just can’t seem to get rid of anything I ever had an emotional attachment to, even if that attachment is ancient history. My mother on the other hand, LOVES giving stuff to charity, old clothes, old toys, what have you.

This was my very first encounter with this whole charity giving thing (tragically not my last, but still the only one really worthy of a chapter). My mother explained to me that she wanted me to give up some of my old toys for little boys and girls who didn’t have any toys. So moved was I by the plight of these children, who didn’t have all the wonderful toys that I had, that I did something very very stupid. I decided not to simply give them my old toys, these poor children deserved something better than that. They deserved the best. They deserved…my favourite toy.

Sigh.

In my memory it feels like only hours later, but was probably in fact a day or two, when I realized what a horrible thing I’d done. I’d just given away my most beloved toy. That meant, shockingly, that I didn’t have it anymore.

I went ballistic.

There was crying, wailing, and a gnashing of teeth. The only thing I wanted IN THE WORLD, the only thing that could sooth my soul, was my Fievel back. I could not be reasoned with, not one little bit.

This is where my parents donned their capes and swooped into action. My mother actually called up the charity in question and tried to get my toy back. I repeat, my mother tried to get a toy back from poor children who had no toys. Other children be damned, her son wanted his toy back. Sadly the toy had already been taken (those kids knew quality when they saw it.) Now it was Dad’s turn.

My father scoured several stores trying to track down a new Fievel toy, but they simply didn’t have it anymore. Finally, at the last store, he thought he had found his salvation. Fievel had a new movie out, and so had a new toy out. Hoping it would suffice, he bought it for me.

It wasn’t what I wanted. The new Fievel was much smaller, and he wasn’t soft at all. You couldn’t cuddle with him, and I thought his new western clothing looked stupid. Still, even as a kid I realized this particular cause was lost. My toy was gone forever.

My parent’s valiant efforts were sufficient to pierce my childish cloud of self-absorption that I think all kids have. This wasn’t the toy I wanted, but I know that they tried so hard. And let’s be honest, I’d given that toy away of my own free will. They had nothing to do with it. My mother may have even asked me if I was sure I wanted to do it.

I took away three important lessons that day.

1) You can’t always change your mind later, some choices are for keeps.

2) My parents loved me very very much.

3) I should never EVER give away ANYTHING.

Every now and again, I go to ebay and consider buying myself another Fievel, just for that little child inside of me who gave away his favourite toy. They have them, they only cost around $20, I could easily buy back a sad moment of my childhood. But I never have, because some choices are for keeps.

The takeaway here isn’t that I gave away my toy though. It’s the amount of effort my new parents went through to try and make me happy again. I mean honestly. It’s easy to picture loving parents sitting me down and explaining how it was gone, and how I should be more careful in the future, and then buy me ice cream. It’s also easy to picture parents shouting “stop you’re crying, it’s just a toy, get over it!”

My parents instead did everything they could to help me get it back. Now, you may want to say that meant I was a spoiled brat, but if you look back just a couple of paragraphs, I clearly learned a lot from this scenario.

This is just one of countless tales of my parents going above and beyond the call of duty, because that’s just how they’ve always been. When I actually became an adult, and realized how extraordinary my parents had always been, I dedicated myself to the idea that I should try and be at least as good a son. I don’t think I always succeed, but I damned well try.

One last thought. I know for a fact, if I asked them to, even this many years later, they’d happily buy me that Fievel toy on ebay. They probably wouldn’t even roll their eyes when they did it. They’d go ahead and purchase a stuffed toy for their 32 year old son. That’s just the kind of parents they are. The ridiculous kind.