Red Dinosaur

I recently achieved a minor victory as a parent: I managed to get my daughter to voluntarily throw out some of the toys she had collected over her seven years on this earth.

This was no small feat!

My worries regarding her toys had been growing for some time; from concern that she did not appreciate the value of the purchases to a full-blown fear that she’d one day suffocate in her house as a middle-aged hoarder.

I’d tried many times to convince her to get rid of some toys. My constant lectures about the evils of the multi-national corporations seemed to have little effect on her developing mind, so I tried a different approach: I explained that the things that are important in life are not as tangible as mere objects, and what is really important is the love from her mother and I.

She seemed to reluctantly understand this, but I sensed in her mind that she was thinking about all the new toy-related real estate in her room that could be leveraged by letting go of the dead wood.

Methodically we started to go through the piles of random toy-shaped debris, leaving it up to my daughter to decide what should stay and what should go. She seemed surprisingly open to getting rid of a lot of stuff, but I was slightly dismayed that what she considered unimportant were the more esoteric purchases (usually by me).

Our attention turned to a battered dinosaur figure that my daughter had since she was a toddler. “That can go,” she said unemotionally.

My heart sank. This used to be her favourite toy!

Are you stopping your child from moving on?

I realised that the tables had turned and now I was about to make the case for holding on to a piece of useless garbage, as if it was some sort of precious relic from a bygone era.

In a way it was.

My daughter had two obsessions when she was young: dinosaurs and cars.

The dinosaur was a replacement for an annoying toy, which I dubbed ‘Formula One Guy.’ It was a plastic figure in a car which played the song “Born to Be Wild” seemingly randomly and often at 3 am in the morning. Formula One Guy, unfortunately, met his demise one day when he was dropped accidentally in a canal by my daughter and managed to drift cheerily out to sea whilst playing his theme song the whole time. My daughter, of course, was inconsolable.

The next day we looked for a replacement for Formula One Guy and came across Red Dinosaur in an op shop. My daughter instantly took a shine to it. She happily sat in the back of the car with her new purchase.

Soon they became inseparable and I would often see the two of them out on the lawn having tea. Red Dinosaur seemed especially fond of water with grass clippings in it.

Remembering the bond they once had, cleaning out my daughter’s room in the present-day made it hard for me to reconcile that Red Dinosaur had slipped from her affections for good. He seemed to be another casualty of the Disney Princess renaissance.

I realised that to set an example, I would have to do the same thing for Red Dinosaur that I did for Formula One Guy. He would have to go! I reluctantly placed him on top of the pile of toys that were to be delivered to the op shop the next morning.

My daughter and I made a date to drop the toys off on the way to a party. When I went to put them in the boot of the car, I noticed that Red Dinosaur had mysteriously returned to my daughter’s room, looking as ferocious and defiant as ever.

Had I subconsciously returned the dinosaur? I don’t think so. More likely, she had taken the dinosaur back for a last-minute reprieve, sensing my attachment to him.

It was a lesson learnt: maybe parents are too fast to blame their children for being hoarders, and perhaps it is the parents who are unwilling to part with objects from a very special stage of life.

Are you stopping your child from moving on?

Also by Trevor Ludlow:
Anxiety: More powerful than a locomotive


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