The Little People Colosseum

For Christmas, my daughter was given a civilization; as such, my living room now aspires towards a dramatic reenactment of book one of Gulliver’s Travels.  It is, however, slightly more treacherous.  Lilliputians, I am told, go squish when one steps on them.  Fisher Price Little People, on the other hand, are somewhat akin to brightly colored caltrops.

Ow.

Ow.

Better still, the ones lacking sharp enough limbs to lodge themselves permanently in the soft part of your foot tend to be oblong to a point where they roll at a moment’s notice–most often in the nanoseconds immediately after one’s foot makes contact with them.  Have you ever wondered if, by the time you reached age thirty, you’d be able to perform a successful back flip on a moment’s notice?  I know I certainly didn’t.  I also know the answer is no.  Thank you, Fisher Price–I don’t suppose you happen to manufacture a Slightly Larger People wheelchair by chance?  No?  Well that’s OK; I’ll just lie here then.

You’d think that tail would stop it from rolling.  I know I did.  I thought about it for a long time while staring at the ceiling and occasionally wondering if I’d ever walk again.

You’d think that tail would stop it from rolling. I know I did. I thought about it for a long time while staring at the ceiling and occasionally wondering if I’d ever walk again.

And while I’m lying here, now seems a fine time to assess the exact makeup of my daughter’s Little People hoard–excluding, of course, the one or possibly two lodged, as a result of my fall, somewhere deep in my derrière.  Presently, we have less of a cohesive theme and more of a remake of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

…I’d mock it, but it’s actually a pretty decent flick.

…I’d mock it, but it’s actually a pretty decent flick.

From the Middle Ages, we have Little Person Robin Hood, Little Person Joe Dragon, Little Person King Henry, and Little Person King Henry’s Mistress; I say “mistress” because her expression suggests she is far too happy to be one of his wives.  Going back further, we have a raft (no pun intended) of Little People Christians, including but not limited to Little Person Noah, Little Person Mary and Joseph, Little Person Jesus, as well as an assortment of Little People livestock and an ark that looks about as seaworthy as a rhinoceros.

Of course, that isn’t all.  Going Back to the Future (to continue our backhanded allusions to the 80s), she also possesses the Little Person Industrial Farm Set complete with Little Person Corporate Farmer, another herd of Little People livestock, and an entity known as Afro sheep because we have two Little People Sheep, but only one of them has an Afro.

Afro Sheep is on the right.

Afro Sheep is on the right.

In true baby fashion, the lack of an overarching unified theme bothers the baby less than me.  In her world, Little Person Corporate Farmer lives in Little Person King Henry’s castle.  Little Person Baby Jesus spends a great deal of time in the Little Person Dragon’s cave (I don’t recall that verse, but I’m sure it’s somewhere in Revelation).  And Little Person Noah spends a great deal of time in the Little Person Industrial Farm silo.

Little People Woodstock

Little People Woodstock

Yet, as already implied, it does bother me–or it did until I realized that, taken together, a theme was staring me in the face.  We’ve a castle, a king, Christians, unwashed masses, Afro sheep, livestock, a couple lions, and an unseaworthy boat that vaguely resembles an arena when the top is removed.

Little People Colosseum, anyone?

His rule is ensured by bread and plastic circuses.

His rule is ensured by bread and plastic circuses.

Mega T-Rex. Mega Awesome.

Due to my age and a lack of visible scarring, I probably can’t play the “When I was a kid, the only toys we had were sticks, and we only got those if we could outrun the neighbor’s pet timber wolf” card. Not convincingly, anyway. There’s also the matter of photographic evidence regarding my aspirations of being a ninja turtle from age six to…oh…sixteen.

Adolescence was not kind to me.

Regardless, in reflecting on the artifacts of my childhood, it has come to my attention that I measured awesomeness in points of articulation. I.e., it was, as the great prophet Joe Biden once said, a “big !@#$in’ deal” if my action figures could bend their arms at the elbows. Tack on functioning knees and, well, perhaps dubbing myself a god among men would be a little extreme, but it would have certainly made me a prince among fourth graders. Much of my collection did not boast so many functional joints and, in many cases, possessed a range of motion akin to Mr. Bean.

Living proof knees are a biological nicety.

Living proof knees are a biological nicety.

Still, such usually satisfied me. On a scale of 1 to “awesome,” I felt I was coming in at “pretty darn good.” Or at least I thought I had been until age, experience, and Amazon.com caused me to reevaluate my childhood.

Jurassic Park meets G.I. Joe meets my doodles during fifth grade math class.

Jurassic Park meets G.I. Joe meets my doodles during fifth grade math class.

I’d like to request a moment of silence while all of us with a Y chromosome just sort of take in the awesome.

Thank you.

Now, even with the benefit of thirty years and an English degree from an accredited institution, I find myself struggling for adequate verbiage on the subject of Mega T-Rex. I do know that, were we to construct a time machine, hurl ourselves into the quantum, avoid fathering our own mother, and present the above construct to my four- to eight-year-old self, he (or me) would likely find his neural pathways inadequate to the wonder and spontaneously combust. My mother would not approve or, at the very least, would probably request that if one was going to subject her son to self-immolation it be done outside or, at the very least, not on the carpet.

What I’m getting at is I’d probably think it was pretty dang cool…or rad…or whatever term was being slung around to mean “neat” in the late eighties.

This is a real 80s band.  This actually happened.  Aliens will excavate pictures of them and think we all actually dressed like this.

This is a real 80s band. This actually happened. Aliens will excavate pictures of them and think we all actually dressed like this.

I’m not sure who’s buying Mega T-Rex. No. I take that back. I know exactly who’s buying him – it would be me had I a son and not a daughter. This is not to say I’m disappointed in my offspring so much as in my salesmanship skills. I’ve been attempting to persuade my wife that Mega T-Rex is gender neutral. Her counterargument, however, is that “a dino-rider astronaut who pilots a T-Rex in some sort of futuristic gun-laden saddle pod is many things but not gender neutral.” At the risk of further undermining my own argument, the Amazon product description is not helping my cause. I quote:

“Standing over 1 foot in height, Imaginext Mega T-Rex adds a new, futuristic dimension to classic dinosaur play. This is no ordinary dinosaur toy: Mega T-Rex is equipped with robotic armor, including tech arms and a protective helmet. He even has two blasters mounted on his armor, which can fire projectiles during the heat of battle. T-Rex also comes with a miniature soldier figure who can ‘take control’ of T-Rex by sitting in his cockpit.”

Related to that, or at the very least Mega T-Rex’s tech arms, anyone else think they look like 7/16” wrenches? I’m not sure how augmenting a T-Rex with 7/16” wrenches improves its overall performance, but that’s really beside the point. What we have here is a tyrannosaurus with guns on it.

Two, please.

Crappe Diem

Why is the youngest generation plagued by a pervasive sense of entitlement?  I have discovered at least one source – diaper rewards programs.  For those who may be less familiar with babies’ backsides, allow me to clue you in to one of the many guerilla marketing tactics used to overwhelm the sleep-deprived, addled brains of parents with young children, particularly those who still demand assistance with their bowels.  Diaper manufacturers incentivize parents to purchase their wares by providing said parents with super secret codes hidden inside diaper packages that can be redeemed for various “rewards” – prizes in the form of trinkets and toys.  It’s sort of like the hidden prizes in Cracker Jacks…with an emphasis on the “crack.”  In effect, dear parents, this means your child is being rewarded for the very act of defecation itself.  (For the sake of full disclosure, my own daughter spent the last year pooping her way to a stuffed, talking poopy…er, puppy.)  Why, then, should we be surprised when our children end up physically grown and still thinking the world owes them – big time – for that big dump they just took?  And let’s be honest – it was magnificent.  How about a round of applause – or at least a moment of silence, which should come as no problem since we’ll all be holding our breath and noses, and donning hazmat suits.

The road to this puppy is paved with poo.

This crappy conundrum is then further compounded by the various prizes that are used to bribe our children to divert their excrement into a flushable device.  In my youth, I was rewarded with a shiny gold star sticker on the calendar for adequately crappy days – innocuous enough.  Yet juvenile demands have since escalated, and expectations include promises of Disneyland, puppies, and personal unicorn footmen to attend them if only they will squat in a predetermined location and not just wherever the urge happens to strike.  In my day (and yes, if read aloud, that would be pronounced with a harsh, aged rasp), it was reward enough not to have crap in one’s pants – although the occasional gold star was a nice bonus.

Child psychologists, you may keep your refrains of “positive reinforcement” and “self esteem.”  Parenting isn’t about being a child’s best friend so much as engaging in psychological warfare.  Over the centuries, children have gained the evolutionary advantage in this arena, equipping themselves as consummate manipulators – with their pudgy cheeks, itsy-bitsy fingers, diminutive skeletal structures, and intentional mispronunciation of basic words, the breed has never been deadlier.  We are programmed to respond to their every iddle-widdle command – and to do so with enthusiasm…and candy.

“Thank you, Mother and Father, for teaching me self-sufficiency.  In return for your great and wondrous deeds, you may now bring me a lollipop.  And something cuddly.  And tickets to ‘Sesame Street on Ice.’  You may go now.”

Yes, child, we shall.  But be forewarned – your day of reckoning is coming.  One day, we will be old, feeble, and – yes – possibly even incontinent.  On that most glorious day, one that shall live in infamy, we’ll have but one thing to say:

“We’re moving into your house.”