Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Memory: The Toy

When I was 8 years old, my mother's uncle and his wife came to visit. He offered to buy me a toy of my choice. I selected an Star Wars X-Wing fighter.

My mother, however, didn't let me play with it. She left it in the box, stored away. 

One Saturday morning I got up early. I dropped down from my top bunk of my bed, passing by the large effigy of myself I had made in school. It was stuffed with newspaper and needed to still be colored in. I snuck into the kitchen. I opened the box of the X-wing fighter, but left the toy in its packaging. I gently moved the cockpit up and down. Then I heard a ruffle behind me. My mother was there looking down at me. I closed the cockpit and stuffed the toy back into the box, and ran like hell. 

Peeling off through the living room, I made a quick turn down the hallway, and just squeaked past her, dashing into my room. Without even climbing the ladder, I flew up to my top bunk, and huddled in the corner. She was like a loose locomotive, full of fury, and with no brakes. She grabbed for me, but I was too far away in that corner. 

She grabbed for the next closest thing, pulling my effigy off the bottom bunk. As she yelled, she ripped my paper likeness to shreds, spilling the newspaper stuffing across the floor. 

The thing is, when she was yelling she just kept saying, "Why? Why give a present to you? What? Does he think that will make everything better?"


  1. Weird, the same thing kept happening to me as a child, relatives giving toys just to be kept in their packaging in the basement. To even ask about them was a crime.

  2. At the time I was scared and felt like I did something wrong. In retrospect, I felt like the toy was a symbol of the bad relationship that my mother had with her relatives, and didn't want anyone to enjoy benefit from her relatives, further cutting herself off and us from all contact with other relatives.

  3. Matt, it's funny you came to this conclusion, I have had the same conclusion about the "gifted toys". My mother has a very bad relationship with her sister and father. Whenever the sister or father would make a present (usually doll) to myself, this doll would be tainted and off limits, but still tantalize me from a stack in the basement. By hoarding these dolls, she was hoarding her ill will. She always hangs on to ill will as though she likes to feel the pain again and again.
    This really screwed up my ability to view my aunt and grandfather normally.

    1. Thank you for sharing. It feels validating to hear about similar circumstances. I only recently took steps to reach out to cousins, and surprisingly found them receptive.