When my oldest child was about 18 months old, a little boy at a client's house gave him a sack full of matchbox cars that he didn't want anymore. They boy was probably about eight, and probably gave him all the broken and worn out cars. I wish I could remember the house and the boy, but I just can't. I'd like to thank him.
My son had struck a gold mine. He loved those broken and worn out cars. I think we went out that evening and purchased more, because he loved them so much. We have had countless "set-ups" and hundreds of hours of entertainment from matchbox cars. They used to be the thing that we would take away for naughty behavior. Or at least, the thing that we would threaten, because they were so precious, that he would almost always shape up with that threat hanging over him. I think we only had to take them away once or twice, and I credit them with helping to mostly end his temper tantrums when he was much younger.
I'd dare say we have a thousand little cars. The favorites rotate fairly frequently. It's still a treat for him to get a new car or a new set of cars. And, he hasn't upgraded much - he still loves the $1 cars. As I was leaving this morning to run errands, he asked me to wait. He shuffled in the top drawer of his dresser for a few moments, then produced a dollar. "Mommy, if you go to Wal-Mart today, please buy the forest ranger car that Daddy told me about yesterday."
You see, Daddy and I and the youngest had been at the brand-spankin new Walmart the day prior and we'd peeked in the toy section and we'd seen this car, noticed it, and handled it and returned it to the shelf. The little one didn't care about it. He wanted Spiderman and Batman and Superman toys. Daddy mentioned it in passing to the oldest one later that day, and he wanted it, knowing that it would become the new cherished toy.
I can only imagine the set-ups that would occur. I wonder what other cars he would find appropriate for the set-up with the Forest Ranger car. I think he already knows. And, I think I'll probably go to Wal-Mart this week. But, I have a feeling that I can use this. I wonder what I want him to do for me this week. Make his bed every day? Do homework without whining? Oh, my, the possibilities...