Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Green Army Men

When I was little, the Avon lady called, which means she came by our house to sell my mom some Avon products. My mom seemed to like the Avon lady, and I’m sure she would have loved to order all kinds of things, but it was relatively expensive. So she’d usually have a nice chat with the Avon lady and buy something small.

One time when the Avon lady was over, I became interested in the little catalogue they used. I have no idea why. But I somehow ended up standing at the table looking through the little catalogue while they talked and, low and behold, there were toys in there. What were toys doing in there?! They weren’t fancy, but it opened up a whole new world. Avon selling toys. It meant that anything is possible!

Not really.

But there were some green army men in there. If I remember right, they also had little farm animals and cowboys and such. They were in sets and they had lots of pieces. I was amazed to find them in there so I showed my mom. Can you believe it mom! Toys in the Avon book! She looked at it and then she looked at me and said something I’ll never forget. She said...

“I can see how a little boy would like to have that.”

I remember feeling kind of warm when she said it. How could she see? How could she know? It was a mystery. But I trusted her. After all, she bought a set for me. And I got to wait in wonderful anticipation for it to arrive. It seemed to take forever. But I vaguely remember playing with it in the back yard, in the dirt. And I did NOT use antibacterial soap when I was finished. Regular soap worked just fine.

Thing is, memories of the toy itself are gone. Lost in the haze. But my mom’s simple moment of empathy will never be lost to me. And now I’d like to have empathy with my kids. I want to understand them. So I try to remember what it’s like to be a kid. To struggle as a child. To want and not be able to reach. To have to rely on someone else for things whether I like it or not. Sometimes I get down on my knees and look around the house to see it from my youngest daughter’s perspective. I find that praying from that position is helpful too.

I think part of this is that I don’t want my kids to lose their trust in me. I know they’ll lose some of it as they become more and more aware of my limitations. But I hope that by remembering what it was like, by remembering how it feels, I can find a way to relate to them, to be honest with them and, hopefully, understand them a little. That way I can help them try to get through the madness of youth without becoming completely overwhelmed by pain or sorrow or loss.

I can dream, can’t I?

Matthew 18:2-4
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010


  1. Dude, I thought this was supposed to be a blog about my old band, Green Army Men. I was duped. Bait and switched. Good blog anyway though.

  2. Green Army whoobie whuttie? Actually, yeah, I thought of you too. It just seemed right.

  3. i loved green army men when i was little. i have older brothers so we did cool things like blow them up with fire crackers. we would also video tape our carnage and watch it on slo-mo. this was very satisfying.

  4. Did you have a good friend named Sid? Was there another kid in the neighborhood who owned a Buzz Lightyear?


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