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Mom Rule #103: Appreciate Dad's Toys

Random rules for gliding through motherhood with a smile.

This is a new rule for me. I'm not referring to the plastic toys that are scattered around, dropped all over the house by little hands. I’m mean the toys that the man of the house purchases, claiming they are necessities. He needs these things — ranging from mountain bikes and gadgets to oversized power tools — for taking care of the yard, home improvements, family fun and hobbies he plans on pursuing in the distant future.

This is a sore spot for me. I roll my eyes at first. Then I think about all the ways I would have spent the money. Then I get cranky about the whole thing.

Camping equipment in particular irks me. I love the great outdoors as much as the next suburban mom. I may even go camping again one day. However, I don’t appreciate having these unnecessary items scattered around before and after Wilderness Dad’s annual trip. Slowly these things find their way to the kitchen. There are gadgets to make backpacking through the jungle a breeze, knives that probably have a purpose beyond making very sharp edges on roasting-marshmallows sticks and sleeping bags that would keep him cozy on K2.

It’s a smidge excessive. Want to know why?

Every year he goes out into the great wide open with his friends. For these guys (terrific guys, for the record), the great wide open is located in Lake George, NY, at a campsite two blocks away from a bar, a pool hall, a McDonald’s and a classic car show. They set up camp, build huge fires, and stumble back and forth to the bar. It’s shocking that their group has shrunk over the years. I guess some men do grow up.

Are you wondering then, if I’m so cranky about his toys, why I created this rule? In his defense, he did plan to take the kids on a real camping trip this summer, but Irene interfered. As luck would have it, everything we needed was right in my kitchen when the hurricane hit and the power went out.

He kept my coffee cup full and the kids fed using his camping stove. Coping with the dark nights is a breeze when you have 15 lanterns of assorted shapes and sizes.

His toys came in handy, so I’m learning to obey this rule. As for the remaining useless toys, I try to enforce the two year rule: If it isn’t used for two years, it’s out of here. Luckily, the resale value is much better on man toys than it is on say, My Little Ponies.

Which reminds me — anybody want to buy a mountain bike?

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