This year, Hanukkah and Christmas come on the same day and it inspired us to find the right presents for our son.
It might help bring peace to the Middle East, but it does little to help my wife and I come to any agreement on what to buy our son.
Alison and I were browsing through a toy department when I saw a gun that could fire a missile at least 20 feet. I aimed it and pretended to shoot down a shelf full of stuffed animals. Barney. The Wiggles. And that woos of a kid, Caillou.
I gotta buy this for Aaron, I told my Alison. When I took my eye from the scope, I saw that Alison was shaking her head, no.
“No. This is great. It really fires these missiles. Here. Watch,” I said with an excitement I only experienced when I was young myself.
No, she repeated. “It’s dangerous. You can poke some kid’s eye out. Too dangerous.”
Dejected, I put the gun back on the table as Alison walked me to the stuffed animals.
“Aren’t these cute?” she asked. I almost puked. Just what I want to give my son. Something “cute.” And “cuddly.” Yecht!
That was then, this is now
When I was a kid, my parents bought me a two foot-long replica of the battleship the Bismarck for Christmas. It had a cannon on its deck that fired missiles that the advertisement on the carton it came in guaranteed it could take an eye out up to 20 feet away.
That’s the kind of power I wanted when I was 10. I didn’t want a dumb, stupid, stuffed animal.
“How about these marbles, honey?” I asked as we walked away from the neat toys to the “Stupid Toy Section,” or the STS, as I call it.
“Marbles?” my wife huffed. “Aaron might swallow them and get sick.”
Hey. Marbles were the rage when I was young. We carried bags of marbles in the crushed velvet bag with the yellow rope straps that were used to package bottles of Crown Royal whiskey my parents used to drink. People don’t drink much, these days. And, marbles are dangerous?
“Too many small pieces. He might swallow something,” Alison said.
“Listen, honey,” I tell my wife. “When I was a kid I ate a whole jar of white paste Elmer’s Glue. It didn’t hurt me, I think!”
The big fad when I was a kid was the BB rifle. You could poke someone’s eye out. Isn’t that the purpose?
“How about this baseball, bat and glove?” my wife asks.
“He could hit someone over the head,” I joke sarcastically.
“Good point,” she says putting the bat back on the shelf.
“Come on honey,” I plead. “Let Aaron have some fun. Let him be a boy. How is it I survived childhood with all the things we fear today still available?”
“You may not survive adulthood, if you don’t knock it off,” she warns. And that sends her on a tangent about TV violence. “There’s too much of it,” she argues.
“And your point?” I ask.
Top 10 most dangerous
Violence on TV is how I learned to stay away from people with guns. In fact, I think too much TV violence is what kept me out of prison. I get enough of it on TV to want it in my life, which is why I quietly succumb to my wife’s orders.
There an organization with a catchy name called World Against Toys Causing Harm, she tells me. WATCH just published its annual 10 Worst toys list and Alison has the list in her hand.
Three of the top 10 worst toys are dolls, I point out. Okay, so the list includes the “Water Bomb Fun Kit,” the “Splatmatic” paintball gun, the “Lord of the Rings Crossbow” set, high kicking “Gravity Boots,” the Fantastic Four “Thing Hands” punching hands, and the Star Wars “Energy Blaster.”
Every one of those toys is on my own personal holiday wish list, which I realize will remain unfulfilled.
I try to reason with her. The more we try to protect our son, the more he becomes dependent on others to protect him. I learned to protect myself. Like the time I fired the battleship missile at my sister and hit her smack dab in the center of her forehead causing her to cry. My dad gave me a whooping!
There were no “naughty chairs,” or “time outs,” or “threats.” My dad would look at me and I would start crying. I knew he was going to kick my “tushy” from here to Kingdom Come! I didn’t know where “Kingdom Come” was but I did know it was going to be a long, painful flight.
Maybe that’s the problem. We’re too easy on our kids today. No spankings. No beatings. Just a goofy “Time Out” chair where he sits for 5 minutes mocking me. So we over compensate by controlling everything they get.
“Why don’t we spend less time determining which toys are bad and more time teaching our kids how to be responsible,” I blurt out, almost yelling.
“Hey, honey. Inside voice, please. Use your inside voice.”
Sure, sweetie, I whisper back.
Ray Hanania is an award winning journalist, standup comedian and author. He can be reached at www.hananina.com