The absolutely true story of the ‘ghost’ that rolled my toy across the room

Let me start by saying that I don’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but when I was 4 or 5, my mother and I saw part of a toy rocket flip onto its side and roll across the living room floor by itself.

It was an Apollo Moon Rocket. It was probably 12 inches tall and maybe 2 inches across. It had 5 stages: the capsule, the thing the capsule sat on, 2 tubes that formed the body and a round base with 5 nozzles on the bottom but no moving parts, no springs or anything that would make it move by itself.

One afternoon, the parts of the rocket were scattered across the floor, and the base was lying flat, nozzles down. I was sitting on Mom’s lap on the couch watching TV when the base stood on edge, rolled 4 or 5 feet across the floor and fell over onto the nozzles.

It scared the crap out of me.

Mom tried to calm me down. I remember her telling me that it wasn’t a ghost, although she couldn’t explain why it stood on its side and rolled across the room.

When Dad came home from work, I remember running over to tell him what happened, and even though I had a witness, I don’t think he entirely believed me, and, frankly, I don’t blame him.

I doubted the story myself until I asked Mom about it a few years ago. She said it happened, that it wasn’t a trick, that no one touched it, no one was near it, that nothing else in the house moved, just the rocket part.

Like I said, I don’t believe in the paranormal. I’m sure there’s some logical explanation, but damned if I can think of one.

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.

I should remember to forget my camera more often

Yesterday was Parents’ Day at our daughter’s YMCA day camp. Usually, she takes the camp bus, but I drove her, and we went canoeing.

It was a cool, sunny morning. The camp is next to a lake, and there were probably 100 other parents on the beach, noshing on bagels and pastries and waiting with their kids for a turn on the water.

While we stood barefoot in the sand, my 11-year-old pointed out girls she knew, and I thought: I forgot my camera.

It was a bad feeling. I thought, here we are, having this little adventure, and we won’t have any pictures.

Then, I remembered something I’d told my mom years ago, when Thing 1 was a baby and Mom wouldn’t stop taking pictures of her:

This isn’t a photo-op. Put down the camera and just enjoy yourself.

If our house was on fire, and I could save one thing, I’d save our pictures and videos. I forget how fast our kids are growing up until I see an old picture, or not even one that’s particularly old. Pictures from last summer or even Christmas remind me how much they’ve changed.

There aren’t any pictures to prove it, but we had a good time. We were on the water for maybe 5 minutes. Thing 1 insisted on steering. We made a wide circle and, miraculously, didn’t capsize or crash into any other parents. When it was over, I gave her a quick hug and kiss — nothing too embarrassing — and went to work.

Walking back to the car, I thought, I should remember to forget my camera more often.