As many of you will know from a previous post, I am in the process of cleaning out my life. I am trying to get over my attachment to stuff, and as I have recently learned, it is not so much a decision as it is a slow, painful journey.
As part of my rehabilitation, I have decided to give Ruby my old superhero toys. Now, just so we are clear here, and so that you understand the full extent of my problems, I have many different superhero toys from many different times in my life. There are the “Secret Wars” toys that I got when I was a little kid. Then there are the Marvel toys that started coming out when I was in middle school, and which I have almost every one of. Finally, and most embarrassingly of all, there are the “Marvel Legends” toys which I started collecting (ahem) post-college. I have a lot of superhero toys.
For a while I was keeping them in a set of display cases in cool action poses, and I managed to cram them all into two large bookcase sized displays, but just barely. Sometimes it was hard to tell if Thor was fighting Loki, or snuggling him. But for the past several years they have been sitting in boxes in my sister’s basement. It occurred to me that I will probably never set them all up and display them again, and I never really played with most of them, I just liked collecting them. Therefore, there was no rational reason for me to keep them.
So I had two choices. I could sell them on eBay, where even out-of-package Marvel Legends toys like mine are going for anywhere from $20-$40, or I could give them to my kids. Now, at those prices, my collection of easily over 200 toys is not a value to be scoffed at, but then I thought back to when I was about Ruby’s age, perhaps a year or two older, and my father gave me all of his old comic books. Yes, I destroyed them, but they gave me a lifelong love of comics and superheroes that I still treasure. I may not have played with their toys, but man did I love The Avengers this summer!
So my decision was made. Ruby will get the superhero toys. I know she will love them; she loves all things superhero these days. But how to do it? Simply dumping 200 toys on her would be overwhelming, and she doesn’t know who half of those people are anyway. No, I decided to give her one toy every Saturday with her allowance, thus spreading out the joy for about 2 years and allowing me further leverage over her to ensure that chores are done and her room is clean.
I am going to do the choosing as to which superhero she receives, so it will always be a surprise, but last Saturday, for the first week, I decided to let her choose. She picked Ms. Marvel, and I dug through my boxes until I found her, wrapped in paper towels and carefully stored with her other teammates, in perfect mint condition. I gave Ruby the toy, and she was ecstatic. She flew Ms. Marvel all over the house, and within an hour or two, she broke it.
This was my first big clue that I was not totally rehabilitated. I sat there with a calm look on my face as I told Ruby that it was fine that she had broken off part of Ms. Marvel’s costume, but inside I was furious yellow. Forcing myself to keep control, I gave Ruby back her new toy and she ran off to play some more. And then I questioned whether or not this was a good idea at all. But of course, even though I was seething inside, rationally, what did it matter? I was going to get rid of them anyway, right? And I destroyed all of my Dad’s old stuff as I read and played hard as a kid, so what did I expect was going to happen when I gave a five-year-old a collectible toy pretty much made for adult collectors? But it still hurt.
This morning I gave Ruby her second toy, Thor. As I write this she has had him for about an hour, and a few moments ago, in the middle of writing the last paragraph, she came over and asked if we could glue his hammer back together, because she had broken the handle off. So maybe this is like anything else in life; I will just get used to it. Every week I will give Ruby one of my prized collectibles, and she will immediately break it and show it to me. Perhaps this is how I will finally and truly get over my attachment to my stuff. I hope so. In the meantime I am going to go punch a wall real quick.