Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Little Jon's Fire Truck

When my nephew Jon was small, I was able to get him a toy that lasted him most of his childhood until he discovered video games and grew out of such things.

I was lucky enough to be able to find things that a kid liked, simply because I would look at the things I thought I'd like and get them.   Add to that there were a lot of places to pick that sort of thing up near where I lived.  

It gave me an excuse to look at things I had grown out of but hadn't lost an appreciation for, and a chance to see that same joy in the eyes of another.

So that season, I picked up a large fire truck.  Big and red and beefy, I thought it might last a week.  Made of plastic so it wouldn't cut him if he got his fingers in the wrong place, thick plastic so it just might survive a fall down the steps from the second floor, and just enough fiddly bits and pieces so that it might be interesting.

The other thing it did, that I didn't realize until he got his little hands on it, was if you pushed it, it made a siren sound.

Wrapped up in bright paper, glued on the seams, it was "shelled" like a peanut as soon as he got it.  

Little blue eyes went huge when he saw this truck as he tried to get it out of the caddy.  Of course I helped him out there.  

When I removed it from the packaging, we heard it for the first time.   A grunt.   The wheels had turned and it made a small siren sound.

That was it.  Luckily all his gifts were opened and set aside by then. 

For a two year old kid who could barely walk, this truck became a crutch to help him learn how to walk and then to run.  

For his mother and grandmother, it was going to become something that had to be rationed.

This toy became the proverbial drum set you give to the neighbor's kid.  For that year it was his favorite.   Every time it got set aside because there was something new, it wasn't for long.   He'd go back to the fire truck when the newness of some other plastic gadget waned. 

He'd haul himself upright then place his toddler's hands on the truck, point it in the direction he wanted to go and push.   We knew that when Jon was in the middle of the Fire Truck Play Time, the TV was turned off, and it became one thing that parents never seem to do enough of - pay attention to the kid. 

My mother, his grandmother, would try to hide the thing on him when she had enough of the siren and the rumble of him rolling it out into the foyer, but it simply didn't work.   He'd tear apart the house until either she relented or he found it.

Path of least resistance was to let him have his fun.

Eventually, of course, he'd lose interest in the toy, but that would take years.   I think he was in school when it finally went to where ever childhood toys went when they were outgrown.   The last time I saw it was in the garage of the big house on the hill, gathering dust, well into his teen years.

Sometimes, you just get the right gift, and it annoys the hell out of everyone around you.  Never mind them, it made a kid really happy for years.  Besides, I never did get him a drum set.  I think he would have liked a drum set.  After all, his mom got a guitar once...

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