A Toy Story

Social media has set the stage for some strange and obnoxious phenomena. There’s the man-crushes on Monday and throwbacks on Thursday, not to mention it provides a platform for everyone to comment on Beyonce and her civic rights charged Superbowl performance. Since when is it a crime for someone to be passionate about a cause?

Occasionally I come across things that don’t make me terribly concerned that I’m raising a child in this morally bankrupt and scary status-update charged world. The most recent being the “motherhood challenge”, a summons to post three pictures that make you proud to be a mom; a bandwagon I was eager to jump on.

I think it goes without saying, Rinn is a handsome little dude. He was so pretty in the first year of his life that I was constantly harassed by strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store how I had a “beautiful little girl.” The assumption he was female had to be based on his good looks because Rinn has only donned a dress twice; once in the privacy of our own home at my behest and another when he put on a princess outfit during free-play at preschool. (This was the same day he made his Mr. Potatohead into a “Mr. Girl Potato” and informed me that while he likes being a boy, Mr. Potatohead “just likes being a girl sometimes” so maybe he caught an episode of ‘I Am Cait’, who knows.)

Now that Rinn is a little older, the handsome comments are always issued directly to him and for a period of time his response was “I know” or “I’m not handsome, I’m Rinn.” I would cringe, apologize to the issuer and whisper “you should just say thank you.” It was after dozens of these interactions that Rinn finally surrendered to my request and said his first “thank you.” It’s with his newfound manners and display of humility (ignoring the fact that it’s probably a facade) that I am proud.

Pride was bittersweet back in September on Rinn’s first day of preschool. Prior to that moment he had spent very little time in the company of his peers and I had an ever increasing fear that he would be the socially awkward kid too afraid to leave my side when it came time for drop-off and he would spend another year with only myself and his grandparents as companions.

My most prideful moment to date centers around Rinn and his acute awareness of his Aunt Mallory and her physical absence from our lives. It breaks my heart to know that he will never truly experience the beauty of her presence but my parents and I make a significant effort to make him aware of her existence, however brief, and the impact she left on our world. Pictures of her are prominently displayed and a variety of keepsakes have been handed down when they won’t pose a choking hazard and we feel that Rinn can truly appreciate them. Her Bitty Baby doll was gifted at his first Christmas, a Downy Snuggle bear that Mallory gave to me when she was born resides in his bed and he spends a solid amount of time constructing Harry Potter scenes out of lego sets that she owned.

Somewhere in the past four years he inherited her full Toy Story collection: Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Rex, RC, Sarge and his minion, Bullseye, Mr. Potatohead (who is sometimes Mr. Girl Potato) you name it, he has the whole gang. They are all favorites of his so I wasn’t too surprised when he opted to tote Buzz and Woody along for his monthly show-and-tell time at preschool. I was a little stunned however that he chose them over the slew of presents he got for his birthday that same week but Rinn is his own boss, unless it’s his bedtime and he’s trying to convince me that he should sleep in my bed. Sorry kid, you’re a breathing furnace and I prefer not to engage in hand-to-hand combat while I’m sleeping.

He positively beamed while holding those characters up for his classmates and I chuckled to myself as he ran around the room with Buzz clear over his head demonstrating how he could “actually fly.” Knowing of his recent birthday, in part because it’s her job and in part because Rinn made sure everyone knew (the neighbors, the Wendy’s cashier, the poor old man who simply said “I like your sunglasses” and was subsequently taken hostage for a solid 8 minutes by Rinn rattling on about turning four and his campfire cake), his teacher inquired about whether or not they were birthday presents. “No, my Auntie Mallory gave them to me.”

Go ahead, cry a little, because I did.

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