Friday, September 11, 2009
Of Big Red Engines and Little Yellow Rubber Duckies
I’ve just finished cleaning up some items to donate to our local Youth Challenge thrift store, and if I’m a little sniffly I’m afraid I can’t blame the dust. Since I’m on a good antihistamine, I’ve got nothing to blame but irrational attachment issues.
Oh, I can make a clean break from the tired old sweaters and the ho-hum sandals. Ditto for the clunky old laundry cart and over the door ironing board (seemed like a good idea at the time, until my ironing flew askew one too many times by a sudden flinging open of the door on which it was mounted). And, I’m frankly ecstatic to finally pass along four large closet organizer units, as it means my husband finished a long-anticipated bathroom remodel, complete with custom closet.
What’s giving me trouble is the evidence that my youngest is growing up. I’ve got a bag full of bath toys I probably should have culled half a dozen years ago. I almost choked on going through with it this time—I hate the thought of living in a house with no bath toys, but in the final analysis, I just couldn’t bring myself to fill up my new vanity with items destined for a long, dark retirement. There’s the requisite pile of out grown clothes, of course, and a cute little green tractor.
But I was in pretty good shape until I got to the big, red fire truck.
Its paint dulled by layers of dust, the truck hasn’t seen hard action in more years than I’d like to admit. “You just need a little love,” I found myself saying as I wiped its surface shiny. (OK, so I talk to inanimate objects. Now you know.) I got a little misty as I remembered my son’s “I want to be a fireman” phase, and, in two seconds flat, I was right in the middle of a full-fledged heart wrenching sob, of the type that probably just my fellow mom readers can relate.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but at some point it hit me that I’m clutching a big red fire truck and sobbing…and it's September 11. And I’m not exactly sure what point it was when I remembered that my son suddenly stopped wanting to be a fireman sometime around the fall eight years ago when he was six, and he saw that being a fireman meant a lot more than diving a cool truck and hanging around the fire house with a well trained Dalmatian--but I did, and things got a little rougher.
I thought then, about the little boy or girl who will inherit my son’s truck. That child probably wasn’t alive to witness the events that ended my son’s fascination with firefighting. I know our world isn’t necessarily any safer now than it was eight years ago. I know that the few children who do grow up to become firefighters will put their lives on the line on a daily basis and for that, will become true heroes. But I’m also glad that they’ve had the chance to allow their dreams to develop slowly and safely; that they aren’t scarred by televised images of domestic disaster.
So it’s with this thought that I discharge my son’s fire truck to a new assignment; hoping that its innocent new operator will have the chance to test his mettle on many an imaginary brush fire and some hard afternoons on treed kitty rescue before he’s old enough to handle the knowledge of what the real heroes operating the Big Equipment courageously face each day.
Wiping my eyes, I plucked a little rubber ducky out of the final bag before tying it off. The world is uncertain, and I, for one, don’t really want to face it in a house with no bath toys.
Posted with a sincere thank-you for those who sacrifice their safety to make this world a place where kids of all ages can play