When I was around 8, I was obsessed with Barbie dolls. I had about ten in my collection, including a long-suffering Ken with the expertly coiffed ‘do and goofy flashy grin (who more often than not, ended up face-down in the toilet, thanks to a run-in with my brother’s GI Joes).
I took those Barbie dolls everywhere, even dragging them outside on lazy sunny afternoons. I would fashion little umbrellas out of Queen Anne ’s lace, had tea parties with them and off they’d gallop into the sunset on their beloved horse, Dallas. Ah, good times.
As for my son, he was practically born with a Hot Wheels car in each hand. Sure, he was drawn to any kind of vehicle early on…buses, garbage trucks, monster trucks (Grave Digger was his fave) but Hot Wheels were his obsession. He wouldn’t go anywhere without one. He even slept with his favorite blue car, all worn and cracked, his chubby little hand wrapped tightly around it all through the night.
Countless times over the years, we’d give in and buy him one while out doing errands. Hey, why not, they’re fairly cheap. And besides, what mom doesn’t like to bribe or placate their fit-throwing kid once in awhile, right? No? Well, I am a bad mom. He now has more cars than the world’s population.
But, they brought him such sheer joy. If it was quiet in the house I’d panic a little, only to always find him in his room, lining them up on his bed and crashing them over and over again. There was security in knowing that my son and his cars would have a long happy relationship, just like me and my Barbies.
Slowly this past year, I noticed he wasn’t playing with his cars as much. Days, then weeks would go by and they would remain untouched in his big blue bin. My husband would nudge him and say, “Hey, why don’t you go play with your cars?” but my son would just shrug and continue to play his Nintendo DS.
I felt this odd pang of sadness. I know, it’s all so very Toy Story 3 (and yes, I bawl like a baby every single time I see it). But he’s eight already, and barreling toward nine in mere months. His voice is deeper, he’s grown two inches since last fall and his face has taken on this older, almost-tween-like appearance. He’s all shrugs and “whatever, Mom”s. He’s not my chubby bubby anymore. Where did he go? I want him back!
But all moms know the truth. That sweet, dimpled boy is still in there somewhere.
Last week, after months of Hot Wheels exile, my son announced he wanted to be left alone for a bit. After shooing my four year old daughter away from his room, I shut his door. I started to walk away, when suddenly I heard the crash of his cars as he dumped them out onto the floor.
“And now begins the race of the century! Start your engines!” my son yelled and the crashing of cars ensued.
Whew! Maybe there’s a few more toy days left in him after all. The Wiis, iPods, and Nintendo DS’s can wait.
I smile as my daughter takes my hand and asks me to play with her Barbies. I tell her sure, but that Ken needs a serious makeover.