Friday, November 5, 2010

View Master

We have a great toy store near us, just a few blocks away. They're a small chain, two or maybe three locations, and they really know their toys. I feel like I do in a well run independent bookstore, like all the staff has taken great care with the product selection, like they really love what they sell.

A few weeks ago I noticed an old fashioned View Master slide toy, which (in a fit of nostalgia) I bought on the spot for my kids.

To my delight, the toy was a hit - my daughter uses it almost every night.

"This is a T-Rex," she said just a few minutes ago - I'm typing here in a chair while she's winding down before bedtime.

We got some dinosaur slides to add to her small collection through Amazon today. She's been learning about the old lizards at school and she's taken an interest.

"The old boy hasn't lost any appeal," I thought to myself, remembering how transfixed I was the first time I saw a drawing of the tyrant king.

"Daddy, would a T-Rex eat our house?"

"Um," I responded, "I haven't know any T-Rex well enough to ask."

If they weren't extinct, I might feel compelled to tell her the truth, but as we're not likely to see any, I don't mind evading the question.

"Oh," she said and went back to looking.

I think I like the view master, not only because I had one too and it's a way to feel connected to what she's experiencing now, but because it's not animated and enhanced with sounds. I like it because it doesn't answer all the questions and leaves some stuff to the imagination.

"What about a brontosaurus?" she asked after clicking a few slides on.

"I don't know any dinosaurs," I said, "And I haven't seen any at the restaurant, so I don't know what they like to eat."

"Why not?" she asked - she's still working on a sense of time.

"They lived in another neighborhood," I said.

Oddly enough, this seemed to make sense to her. She looked thoughtful for a moment and then let out a little sigh and went back to looking.

I know it's nonsense. It's the kind of thing I used to dream up when I was a kid.

I also know her teacher will likely give me a few odd looks at the parent teacher conference after she repeats my spurious dinosaur lore (oh she definitely will) multiple times in class.

Someday she'll learn the truth herself too and I'll have some explaining to do. But there's something special about sharing this silly stuff with my kid. I feel like when we talk like this that the little kid that I was is still around and I know - somehow - that that little boy and my little girl are friends.

Good night.

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