There’s a toy museum in our living room

We have a toy museum on the living room floor, and in the bonus room, and in a corner of the kitchen.

Our collection includes probably 100 vintage Hot Wheels, vintage and contemporary Little People playsets, a couple bins of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and track pieces, a couple of lightsabers, some Tonka trucks, at least Trouble board games, several sets of Uno cards, God knows how many action figures and vehicles from McDonald’s Happy Meals and a Bat Cave with a Batmobile and a Batcopter and a Joker-Mobile.

As things tend to do, our toy collection got out of hand slowing, a piece or two at a time.

It turns out that our parents didn’t throw anything away. They saved everything, and when the grandchildren came, they unboxed the toys and sent them to us, which was really sweet, but Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) also has Thing 1’s old toys and a bunch of toys of his own toys, too.

I had this bright idea a while back: For every new (or used) toy that comes in, one goes out to the garage.

That lasted about a day, until Thing 2 decided he really, really, really needed that one fire truck. (Serves me right for getting see-through bins).

So, our house is a mess.

On the other hand, he’s growing up fast, like his sister did. So, the house is cluttered with old toys. I’m going to feel worse when he outgrows them.

Hide-and-seek in plain sight

We went to the park Sunday. Thing 1 and Thing 2 challenged Sweetie to a game of hide-and-seek, and Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) found the perfect hiding place:

The swings.

While Sweetie was looking behind trees and inside the climbing place, Thing 2 was swinging with the other kids, keeping an eye on her. Soon as she spotted him, he jumped down and ran to base.

I asked him later, “Where you trying to hide you were on the swings? You weren’t just swinging?”

“No,” he said. “I just knew she’d never find me if I was up in the air.”

What’s funny is that this is actually a thing. It’s called “selective attention.” The idea is that sometimes you’re so busy searching for something that you miss the thing that’s right in front of your face.

Here’s what I mean. Watch the video (it’s short) and count how many times the players in white pass the basketball to one another:

(It probably works better if you don’t see it cold; they showed us this at a work retreat a few months ago, and nearly everyone in the room, um, miscounted.)

I don’t think they’re teaching this in preschool. Thing 2 somehow figured it out by himself, and, as a parent, that scares me, because he’ll be a teenager in 8 years, and if he’s this clever at age 5, then I’m doomed, I tell you, doomed!

Adventures in bad parenting: Giving a kid cash to stop whining

I didn’t see this happen, and neither did Sweetie, but it concerns our youngest, the 4-year-old, Thing 2.

He was with his grandparents, and they don’t really want to talk about it, but here’s the story we’ve managed to piece together from the scraps of information we’ve been given:

Thing 2 is nearly 5, but he’s just now going through his terrible 2’s.

When he’s not happy, when he doesn’t get his way, he cries. If that doesn’t work, he wails. If that doesn’t work, he has what folks in the South call a conniption.

When we cave — and we usually do cave, especially in public — the crying stops, instantly, like you’re turning off a tap. Suddenly, he’s fine, and we feel like suckers, and rightly so.

We’re trying to break him of this habit, and I thought we were beginning to make progress.

So, Sweetie’s parents are in town, and they took Thing 2 to Kroger. He wanted something — I don’t know what, exactly — but they said no, and he started crying, and when that didn’t work, he started wailing, and when that didn’t work, he had a conniption.

Thing 2’s conniptions aren’t really angry, but they’re loud, and he sobs like you’ve just told him you’re taking his dog to live on a farm in the country. “Pleeeeease,” he’ll say between sobs. It can be heartbreaking, and it’s hard to say no, especially if you haven’t seen it a million times before.

When we’re with him and he does that, we take him outside and talk to him, or else one of us takes him to the car, but the grandparents were caught off guard, so I’m not blaming them for what happened next.

Thing 2 was causing such a disturbance in the checkout aisle that the cashier reached into her pocket and gave him a dollar bill. She gave him cash to make him stop crying.

And it worked. The crying stopped, instantly.

He used the money to buy a Hot Wheel, which he proudly showed me when I got home.

When I finally pieced together the story, I was speechless. How did it come to this?

I turned to Thing 2 and, trying hard to channel my inner Mr. Rogers, I said, “This is bad. Do you understand?”

He either didn’t understand or couldn’t have cared less. I changed my approach.

“I can’t believe a big boy like you were crying so much that the check-out lady gave you a dollar to stop crying. You’re almost 5. This is really bad. You know that, right?”

He smiled and nodded his head, like I’d said, “The sky’s blue. You know that, right?”

He said, “Oh, yeah,” and went back to playing with his new Hot Wheel, like he didn’t have a care in the world.

Sweetie and I have gotten used to reprogramming the kids after the grandparents visit. (I don’t know why, but grandparents cannot say “No.”)

But this? This episode established a dangerous new precedent.

This is going to take some work.