I am in “Transformer*” hell.
I had hoped that Ryan was too young to get swept up in the craze as he’s DEFINITELY too you to see the movie so I didn’t take him to it, but no such luck. Last Friday, he found a small orange and purple Transformer on the playground at school. Being four, and fascinated with cars and things with moving parts, he brought it home
Whereupon we had a number of lengthy discussions about taking things that don’t belong to us and making good choices vs. bad choices and damn but being a parent is exhausting and not very much fun sometimes. I made him aware that come Monday, we would be taking the Transformer back to school and returning it to its rightful owner.
He actually seemed okay with that plan in the abstract, but I was already envisioning major disaster on Monday when he had to give up the car. Because, let me tell you, that child was in LOVE with that toy. For 48 hours I don’t think it left his hand for more than a few seconds. He slept with it. It went to the beach with us where he showed it to pretty much every stranger he came across and proudly announced “I have a Transformer.” I’m sure it would have been at the dinner table if I didn’t have a strict “no toys at the table” policy. Anyway, by the time Sunday night rolled around, I was starting to feel really badly about taking the toy away from him that he obviously loved so much.
So, I decided that if he voluntarily gave up the toy on Monday without making a fuss, I’d take him to buy his own Transformer that evening. I didn’t tell him the plan because I wanted him to make the right choice on his own and not because of a “reward.” And I have to say, I was SO proud of him when he marched into class on Monday morning and held the car up and asked if it belonged to anyone. When another little boy claimed it, Ryan turned it right over to him without a fuss (although I did see his bottom lip quiver just a teeny bit.)
I couldn’t wait to pick him up on Monday night and tell him that we were heading to Target to buy him his very own Transformer. And when I got to his class on Monday evening, that’s just what I did. He was SO excited. He jumped up and gave me a huge hug and then ran around the room telling everyone that he was getting a Transformer of his very own.
Off we went to Target where he told everyone we passed in the parking that we were going to get him his own Transformer. Then he told everyone in the store. Then he stopped a Target employee (all on his own without any prompting from me) to ask him “Where are the Transformers because my Mommy is getting one for me.”
So, after much perusing of the (incredibly picked over) selection at Target, Ryan finally selected a blue motorcycle Transformer named “Arcee.” It was a tough decision because he was determined to have an Autobot and most of what was on the shelves were Decepticons (yes, I know my Transformer lingo). Oh, I also picked a set of smaller Transformers to use as future rewards for good behavior.
And here is where the descent into hell begins.
First of all, “Arcee” was MUCH more complicated to transform than the orange car had been. I used the directions to do it the first time and it took me nearly 20 minutes to turn the motorcycle into the robot and then there’s a whole missile launcher accessory that took another 10 minutes to figure out (not to mention the whole “we don’t shoot missiles at Mommy, or the glass vase, or the windows or other people” lecture that had to be developed on the spot).
Now, Ryan’s favorite thing about these toys is the transformation process. Which means that, for him, playing with them is really nothing more than constantly transforming from vehicle to robot to vehicle to robot and on and on. This was fine with the orange car, but didn’t work so well with the much more complicated Arcee. This led to me being presented with Arcee about every 60 seconds for me to transform her from whichever form she was currently in to the other form. Then Ryan’d play for about 10 seconds for handing it back to me to be transformed again.
So that took up the rest of Monday night.
Then, on Monday morning, I had to have the “you can’t take your Transformer to school” conversation with him (this is a different school than where he found the orange car and they don’t allow the kids to bring toys from home not to mention I knew if he took it there would be fights and lost robot parts, etc.). Unfortunately, I had to leave for work and relied on Grandpa to make sure the toy got left at home.
Grandpa’s not so much for the enforcing of the rules it turns out.
So Arcee went to school.
So Grandpa, Grandma and Mommy got an earful from the school about the policy violation (we are, sadly, repeat offenders on this). Mommy even got a note sent home to her.
And, as predicted, some of Arcee’s parts disappeared at school. By the time we got home to go to bed on Tuesday night, Arcee had a torso, one arm and half a wheel left. Oh, and I have half the missile launcher, too.
It’s pretty sad when a toy doesn’t even last 24 hours.
So, then I got hit with the very sad and pathetic (but extraordinarily cute) 4 year old BEGGING me for a replacement toy. Let me tell you, sad, 4 year old cuteness is HARD to resist. But, I knew he needed to learn the lesson about why we don’t take toys to school and that Mommy can’t replace toys that we don’t take care of.
So I said “no.”
And then proceeded to feel major guilt even though I know it was the right thing to do. Just as a point of order – doing the right thing ought to feel better than that!
At which point, the 4 year old (whose memory is WAAAYYYY better than mine), innocently reminds me that I had promised him one of the smaller Transformers the next morning provided that he stayed in bed all night and didn’t get up.
Of course, I made that promise before Arcee got scattered all over the Saddleback Valley from Foothill Ranch to Aliso Viejo.
Then I went to bed last night thinking “well, he’s gotten up every night for the last two weeks so he’ll never make it and then you won’t have to provide the replacement toy and everything will work out.” That’s a first for me – hoping the kid DOES break the rules and get out of bed.
But darned if the kid didn’t stay in bed all night.
And when he did get up, he marched straight into my room to ask if he could have another Transformer because he had stayed in bed all night.
Rats. It sucks when the kid has a better memory for things than his Mommy does.
So, the dilemma: Do I keep my promise and give the kid the toy thereby proving that while Mommy DOES keep her promises, she will also immediately replace any toys that you have broken or taken to school against the rules?
Stay tuned to find out what I did.
*If you missed the massive media blitz for the hit movie that’s currently in theaters (and is well worth seeing, by the way) or have been unconscious for the last 20 some years that these things have been around, Transformers are robots that “transform” (get it?) from robot shape to vehicle (truck, car, plane, etc.) shape and back again. There are two kinds of Transformers: Autobots (the good guys) and Decepticons (the bad guys). Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots and Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons. They are mortal enemies and fight each other and blah, blah, blah. You get the picture. And yeah, I know, I’m a total dork for knowing these things.