When Little E and I last visited the robot store (a.k.a. Hastings, so nicknamed because dad keeps buying Daleks there), he went kinda nuts because he saw Princess Peach from Super Mario. Never mind that this was something between a stuffed animal and a backpack clip-on buddy, and nothing like the box full of Super Mario figures I’d gotten him for Christmas… he really wanted that Princess Peach. He talked about it at home. A lot. He really wanted to go back to the robot store and buy that Princess… right now.
So we all made a deal. If Little E would save up some money by helping with household chores, and come up with enough money to buy the Princess, then we’d drive into town to get her. Next thing I know, I’ve got very eager help with cat and dog feeding, and house cleaning, and all sorts of day-to-day tasks. A few times he got discouraged because he just wasn’t making enough money fast enough. Then Mom happened upon a resale shop that makes it known up front that they pay cash for Little Tykes toys in good condition.
Little E’s got a bunch of stuff that fits that description. In particular, we all immediately fixated on the great big dump truck. Too big to really ride through our small (and messy) house, the dump truck had been gathering dust of late – and worse yet, Portia was taking to head-butting it through the house and bumping it into stuff. The cat was playing with it more than the boy was.
Before going to day care, I loaded up the dump truck in my car, along with his money jar, which now contained every cent he’d earned from his chores, a dollar bill that had been given to him sometime back, and every stray piece of change that had accumulated in his TARDIS bank and his “cash cow”. He had not quite eight bucks in there – almost enough to rescue the Princess.
He’d taken such good care of his dump truck that he was able to sell it for – get this! – ten bucks. The kid was hauling around pretty close to $20 all of a sudden. I think he can start helping me put stuff on eBay now – what a salesman! The whole family piled in and made a beeline for the robot store. He marched right in and grabbed a Princess Peach off the store peg and announced “I want to get this one!” And the irony was that he practically had enough money to get “this one” before selling the dump truck. Sales tax would’ve put him over what he had in his jar, but that’s when I remembered the other thing he’s been talking about getting.
At the last minute, I got him a pair of Star Wars figures identical to one that we’d gifted to one of his classmates, mainly because he’d fixated on them during the day care’s gift exchange; he already had his own C-3PO and R2-D2. But that still didn’t wean him off of one of his favorite toys: the R2-D2 from dad’s desk! I had been reminding him recently that he needed to take good care of it, because it’s really only on loan to him, and he’d already been talking about getting his own R2-D2 so he didn’t have to keep borrowing mine. I went back to the actual robot section of the robot store (i.e. where the action figures live), and lo and behold, they had a Clone Wars R2-D2 figure. The price was right, so we asked him if he wanted his own R2-D2, and of course he was all for that plan.
(It was also about this time that dad suddenly realizes he’s got a camera built into his phone.)
So we waited in line at the checkout, droid and princess and cash in hand.
The big moment. He sold his dump truck for this.
And the total is…
…oof! A little bit too much. He owes us a couple of days of pet feeding chores to cover the sales tax. Time to shell over the money.
The checker at Hastings was a real class act – if someone showed up to pay me with a jar full of pennies and other similarly small change, my blood pressure would probably go up a bit. But she was very patient and encouraging. She seemed to get that this was a Big Deal.
And off we went, with R2-D2 and the Princess in tow. (Back in my day, going to the toy store to get Artoo and the Princess meant something completely different.) And man, this was the blingiest Star Wars figure I’d ever seen – the package boasted of “hidden gadgets!” and they’re not kidding, nearly every panel on R2-D2 opens to reveal a swing-out arm or tool or grappling hook or something. Dad must admit to a wee bit of droid envy here. Once home, R2-D2 and WALL-E were promptly introduced; at bedtime, when it’s time to put all the toys away, I introduced Little E to the idea of a ROBOT ROLL CALL! Artoo and WALL-E will resume their mission to rescue the Princess in the morning.
Little E seemed very proud of his purchases. And we’re very proud of him. On the one hand, I could spend all night hating on the fact that our money is so tight at the moment that our kid has to sell his old toys to get new toys. But on the other hand… he made a tough call, he stuck to it, and he has yet to express a single regret about it. That last bit is a Significant Development, because he seems to have a lot of trouble sometimes understanding that the world does not have an undo function, that decisions bring consequences, and that you just have to roll with those consequences instead of throwing a major wobbler about it. It’s something that’s part of his Asperger’s that we have to patiently try to deal with, but despite more than one long talk about how the dump truck is gone and can’t come back, he said “yes” straight down the line: he’d made a decision that he wanted this toy instead of that toy, and was willing to make a sacrifice and stick with the decision.
And there are other Little Tykes items waiting to be sold off in his house too, if he can help me clean house and unearth them. He wants to be Super Mario for Halloween this year, and that costume ain’t cheap. But he’s just proven to us that he can buckle down and do it. The kid’s alright.