Friday, October 29, 2010

Just One More Set, then I'm Off the Stuff for Good

My youngest son’s birthday was several months ago. My eldest son’s birthday is still over a month away. Anyone with a calendar and passing knowledge of department store sales can tell you that Christmas is two months off. I’m left in quite the predicament because of this.

I’m experiencing toy withdrawal. I’ve had no excuse to buy my sons new toys that I’m excited about (and let’s be clear, it matters most whether or not I’m excited about them) since the beginning of the summer.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped me. There have been a number of made up excuses for buying them the new Lego set they were eyeing or a package or four of Marvel Mighty Beanz. If they help me with chores around the house or read a book I’ve come to decide that deserves a toy. With school in session, finding excuses has become a bit easier.

“Wow, you got 100% on this worksheet you did in school with your whole class working together? In the car, everyone. We’re going to Target.”

Of course, this lends to teaching them that everything they do requires some sort of payment. When I want them to clean their room, they expect a toy. Put their bikes back in the garage at the end of the night? Toy. Eat that last chicken nugget? Toy. Wipe their own butt? Toy, and you have not seen leverage until you have negotiated with a child who has just finished creating something stinkier than you ever thought possible and is threatening to rise from the toilet unwiped and wander through your home, sitting on every surface imaginable, leaving a path of destruction and permanently useless furniture in his wake.

It has gotten to the point where even the things they want to do are refused until a toy is promised because they know I want to do it too.

“I’m not going to Six Flags and eating ice cream until my head explodes unless you take me to Toys R Us after.”

I’m fairly certain this is the definition of being spoiled. And I can’t blame their grandparents on this one (believe me, I’ve tried). It’s my own want for new products. Still, this was considered a small price to pay for keeping a steady stream of new entertainment coming into the house.

Plus, I found a way to counteract their being too spoiled. Their threats began to be met with statements that I was pleased I wouldn’t have to spend money on toys, Six Flags or dinner for them that night (since they’d be going to bed without it). Such claims combined with a smug smile of self-satisfaction (which I’m frighteningly good at making) and they were back on the right track. If they knew the true nature of my personality, that I would happily accept Lego bricks as payment from my employer in lieu of a salary, they would have called my bluff. Thankfully, they still distrust all adults and assume we are greedy, money-hording monsters (which most of us are).

Anyway, eventually, even I run out of reasons for buying toys that don’t make me feel ashamed of myself. You’d think I’m buying crack, not pre-owned DS games with the self-loathing I experience after hitting Game Stop. Stocking up on Nerf darts leaves me doing the walk of shame in from the car with a toy store bag in hand as if I’d been out binge drinking all night.

With excuses running thin, I’m itching to open up a new toy. At one point, I’d gone so low that I nearly found myself opening a Lego box meant for another child’s birthday party and arriving with the set already assembled. Were it not for my intense respect for the Lego process, I may have traveled down that dark path.

That’s when it hit me. In Lego, there not only lies temptation, but salvation. Sure, I may not buy a new set anytime soon that won’t be hidden away in the corner of a seldom used closet or crawl space for Christmas, but I do have the thousands of previously purchased bricks down in the basement. That could be just the therapy I need to keep my sanity over the long fall months as I wait for the holidays.

This is me, stepping out from the shadow of addiction and into the light of creativity. I will dedicate myself to building my own creations out of Lego until the craving to buy has passed. Together, Lego and I will confront and conquer my compulsion.

(Note to consumers: should you notice a sudden dip in the economy over the next month, it’s just because I stopped buying new toys for a while. Don’t panic, it’ll pick back up come December.)

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