We went to the Jersey Shore last Saturday to hang out with my older brother. It was a glorious weekend—blue skies and endless sunshine—the kind that gets tangled up in your hair, all purple and gold. We had such a wonderful weekend on the beach I swear Jack came home with little sand castles in his hair and smelling like a creamsicle.
Jack has been playing on the beach since before he was one. It is so awesome to see the transformation from tiny, sweaty, chubby baby that napped on my chest in the shade under an umbrella, to little boy making new friends on the beach, digging giant holes to nowhere, or somewhere. Somewhere magical, I bet.
I look at Jack these days and I can't believe he turns 7 this summer. It seems like yesterday (so cliche, I know) that he was a tiny tot who wouldn't leave the house without a train, or "choo-choo" in his hand. He would play on his train table, with wooden tracks and little wooden trains and cars and houses and a big station. Little green trees and traffic signs. People waving hello or halting stop. My goodness, I spent so many early mornings creating new twisty, turny tracks and pushing little trains with my baby in footed jammies. "Choo-choo! Beep-beep! Vrooom-vroooom!"
These days the train table is barren. The tracks and trains are in the drawers and Jack uses the table top for Lego building and Angry Bird launching. He's too cool, or big (sigh) to play with trains. The clunky old table takes up so much room. The drawers are filled with everything: reject action figure body parts, plastic crap from this toy and that toy, stray blocks—it's a disaster only a hoarder would love.
So many times I've come close to donating it, but then chickened out. It's my son's. I should keep it! Maybe I'll have another kid or he'll want to give it to his kid one day, or, or, or … Maybe he'll want to play "choo-choo" with me!
His seventh birthday is coming up. He wants a Lego table. Unless we find a new home for the train table, that just isn't happening. There's NO room. Without even thinking about it, God, I couldn't—I took a picture and sent the image to my friend who has two toddler twin girls. "Want it?" I captioned the shot. "Trains, tracks and all!" I added it's great for imaginative play and tuning up fine and big motor skills.
He replied, "Yes" almost instantly. My younger brother helped him move it out of our condo this past weekend when we were away collecting sand crabs and eating slices of pizza the size of our heads. Jack even LEGIT beat me at mini-golf.
When we came home Jack's room seemed so empty. I sighed, but Jack didn't bat an eye. It was gone. Later that night I got a text from my friend's wife. It was a picture text of the girls playing at the table, "Thank you! So cool!" the photo was captioned. I showed Jack.
"Cool, Mom, they are playing just like WE did!" he said with a big smile.
And that was enough. Kids will always remember who played with them—who showed up.
Like Toy Story's Woody and Buzz would agree, it's time for new kids to play.