A few years ago I bought my nephew, the youngest member of the family at the time, a grabber-toy. It was an impulse buy of a two foot long, red and black plastic toy with a handle at one end and big silver pincers at the other. Squeeze the handle and the pincers open and close. It was like one of those picker-upper sticks senior citizens use to retrieve medication bottles that fall on the floor or cans of prune juice from the top shelf.
My nephew loved the toy, but got very upset because he couldn’t play with it, the adults took it over. Grown men fought over who got to retrieve cans of beer from the cooler without getting their hands wet. Sneaking appetizers off a plate from three feet away became quite a scene as did pinching bottoms. Finally my nephew got to play with his toy just as dinner was served. He had to set it aside until we were finished.
I always suspected, but that afternoon proved, that no matter how old we become, the child in us always remains.
I have found that when buying toys for my granddaughter I tend to lean towards the ones I know I will enjoy playing with, right along with her. A train set for little ones seems to be a favorite of ours. When I babysit at my house, it’s the bag of tracks, trains and station pieces she chooses. We set it up on the coffee table and take turns pushing the small engine around the figure-eight tracks and under the small bridge. Sydney sets up the signs and operates the gates. We both supply the choo-choo sound effects. The trick of the train adventure is keeping the characters, a little boy and girl, away from the dog, a miniature dachshund with an affinity for dropped snacks and baby toys. My floor stays clean but the poor little plastic kids already have chew marks.
This year, with this sweet little toddler in our midst, the lament to experience a train ride with Mr. and Mrs. Santa rose above the small crowd of young adults in our immediate family.
“Let’s get real,” I said to my two daughters and their husbands, “Sydney is not even two. She hasn’t a clue who Santa is.”
“But we do,” my youngest daughter, (the Auntie), said.
That’s when the child in all of us, stuck its head out of adulthood, smiled, jumped up and down and said “please, please, please can we go?”
When our daughters were Santa-age we took them to see the man in red, and his very patient wife, on a train full of little ones screaming for the big guy’s attention. Funny thing is that none of us really remember the outing. We know we went, but the kids either fell asleep or my husband and I experienced cocoa and kids overload and blocked out the event.
This year will be different, we all have cell phones with cameras to document the momentous occasion. Because I’m the grandmother I can sit back and take in the pleasure of watching the kids without having to actually act like a parent. I get to experience the excitement and the wonderment of what it’s like to believe that if you dream it, and whisper it, the special man in red can make that dream come true. And that’s just for the adults on the train, the kids, well, they already know who fulfills their wants and dreams; it’s the driver of the big brown truck who leaves boxes on the front steps.