Toys are the currency of children

In my book  A Modern Military Mother – Tales from the Domestic Frontline, page 97, in the chapter ‘Hagar goes to Afghanistan’ I write:

“What do I think? I want him to be vigilant at all times. To come home again. It is tiring though being strong, putting your head down, digging in and pushing through – again and again and again and again and again. I can’t sit still, rocking under the table waiting for him to come home. We all have a life to live. A life to celebrate so I think I am just going to work, dance and drink through it and keep my kids smiling. I’ll tell them that daddy is at work and when they say, “I miss daddy.” I’ll smile and say, “I miss daddy too. It’s fine to miss daddy but he has a job to do so that he can buy you toys.” When you are 8 years old, saying food and keeping a roof over your head, keeping you safe at night, doesn’t have the same meaning as toys. Toys are an 8 year old’s currency. (Before we get into a materialism debate – The Grenade has real sense of kindness, helpfulness, manners and solid values. But he loves toys – what kid doesn’t?)”

The Grenade loves his guns. He recently had his 10th birthday and toy guns were all he asked for. It feels like he has every Nerf Gun known to man and is always hankering after the latest Nerf Blaster . Like many men I know, he knows everything about them and spends hours on You Tube watching toy Nerf Gun reviews and even making his own short films. For me as a pacifist, the gun hater, it’s a difficult decision to let him play with guns and create imaginary battles but after watching the documentary Restrepo, where one of the soldiers berated his hippy mother for teaching him to make paper and not allowing him to play with guns so the first thing he did as soon as he could leave home was join the army, I now think that you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. Hagar the military father loves the Nerf guns and he teaches good nerf blast practise – target shooting and protective eye gear. So Nerf blasters are all the rage at our house.

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The Menace, my 5 year old daughter, she loves the official toy story with Buzz and Woody. Woody, a cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure Buzz Lightyear supplants him as top toy in a boy’s room. It’s a timeless Disney classic that keeps her captivated again and again.  It’s hard to believe that it is 18 years old! Her favourite character is Woody – who is introduced as head child in the film, Andy’s favorite toy and the leader of all of Andy’s toys; however, his position is usurped by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, an action figure given as a birthday present.  Buzz is convinced that he actually is the fictional astronaut and not a doll. Filled with jealousy, Woody uses Buzz’s beliefs that he is real against him to try regain his former status as Andy’s favorite toy. But Buzz falls out the window and, when they learn of Woody’s manipulation against Buzz, the other toys disown Woody despite him saying it was an accident.

Woody’s plan works, as Andy brings him on the car ride to the fictional pizza establishment “Pizza Planet”; however, he comes across the antagonized Buzz once again and they fight. As a result, they end up lost and when trying to reunite with Andy inside of the restaurant, but end up as prizes in a claw machine grabbed by Andy’s devious, nasty neighbor Sid, famous for damaging toys. Woody is frantic to plan an escape and meets all of the toys hideously remade by Sid, where he discovers that they actually prove quite friendly and hospitable. He enlists the assistance from the toys, to scare Sid. As the movie carries on, Woody and Buzz gradually become buddies, Buzz realising that he is actually a toy, helping himself and Woody to Andy’s car just as they leave to  move to a new house. Buzz Lightyear and Woody make up afterwards, and Woody is accepted again by the other toys, thus sharing the status as Andy’s favorite with Buzz. Toy Story is a great film….”To infinity and beyond”


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