Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Toy Solider

I have been accused, both lately, and multiple times in my past, of hating children. I guess my general misanthropy does extend to the children of the world, but I do not hate them more so than I dislike humankind in general. After all, to quote Henry Blake, I am a former child myself. Not that I can remember my childhood, except for a couple of events, one which I am about to relate, is mostly a blank. Either it was a rather boring time, or I have blacked it mostly out for some deep, dark reason that the wolf that raised me isn't sharing with me.

Truth is that I don't really understand children. They are a complete mystery to me, and why anyone wants to have them also is a bit of a puzzler. I guess they somehow, someway make our live complete?  I always thought that it was incumbent upon me to make my life 'complete' after all it is my life. No one else should have to complete it for me. That is perhaps the underlying problem with my lack of a desire to procreate.  Children are like a free radical, they go off in all sorts of unexpected directions (especially in crowded stores), and I suppose they take our lives in unexpected directions as well. I am, and never really have been a fan of the unexpected, or maybe (at this is very possible) I am just a coward. 

These little replicas of ourselves demand a lot of time, money, and attention, and I am quite sure I am not up to the task. I am the son of a bad father, and one of the few things I have an almost undying faith in is that I would be a second generation bad father. It is a fear that is quite debilitating, and makes me impossible to plan a future with, and makes me want to sail away for Singapore. Many a relationship has founded upon the rock of my childish (pun intended) fear of becoming a father as shitty as my own. I understand that by realizing what a crap father I had, I should be able to recognize the mistakes he made with me, and not repeat them, but as I said most of my childhood is a blank, and just because I realize his mistakes does not mean that I would not be condemned to repeat them. 

One part of my childhood that isn't a blank, that came back to me just recently, and quite unexpectedly is the following cautionary tale. I was about 9 years old, and had recently been given a toy solider. The details of who gave me this gift, and why it became my absolute favourite toy are a bit hazy. I just remember that I LOVED that fucking toy solider. I don't think it was anything that any other child would consider special. This was so long ago that it was just a simple toy solider, no bells or whistles. It did not come fully loaded with an RPG that could launch from a distance, nor did it have a jeep, or any other accessory. It was simple a toy soldier. As I said children are a mystery, it is a mystery to me to this day why I liked that damn toy soldier so much, but I did.

However, after several weeks of adoring this toy soldier, I (for reasons that escaped me then as they do now) took it out one fine day to the local 'creek' and upon calm reflection, or at least as much calm reflection a 9 year old can muster, threw it into the muddy waters of that creek.  It landed with a plop, and sank without a trace. It was a toy soldier, not a toy sailor, and I guess it just couldn't swim. As I stood there on that bridge being asked the 'why the hell did you just do that' question by my relatives, I realized that perhaps I had made a mistake, and I really did not want to be without my toy soldier. However, he was gone and lost forever, and the watery grave to which I had consigned him was not going to release him back to me.

When this little event of my childhood came flooding back to me the other day, I knew pretty immediately what my past was trying to tell my present. It is not a overly good story, and I have told it in my usual vague, poor way. However, it seems that even at the tender age of nine I was my own worst enemy, throwing away the best things in my life, either in a fit of pique, or in some twisted attempt to make myself less dependent upon other people or things.  Now here I am some 32 years later, and still throwing away the best things in my life. It is both incredibly stupid, and incredibly sad. More so stupid I (and I am sure others) would say. I suppose it just shows that I have learned so very little from the age of nine. Because when I throw something away, I generally do it in a way that does not allow for retrieval.

At nine that is childish, after all I was a child, children do that kind of stuff. At my current age it is still childish, and unforgivable. In the 32 intervening years since that day when my toy soldier took his last, fatal swim, I have learned so very much, and so very little all at the same time. There is no moral to this story, and I don't think that as sad as I am writing it, I am able to provide a pithy, snappy ending. I am sorry that so many things had to end the way of the toy soldier, and even more sad that at least one more thing will probably end the same way, but that is a story for another day. For today's purposes, let us just pause and give a moment's silence for the death of a brave man/toy soldier. He didn't deserve his fate, at the hands of a fickle 9 year old version of me, but he was brave until the end. Here is hoping that we all are.

1 comment:

Cynnie said...

I hate thinking about the past ..all it does is make me cringe