It's funny how important some things can be to a child. What really seems of little consequence to grown ups is incredibly important to children.
For instance, look at their toys. All children have certain toys that are important to them. These are the toys they sleep with, or the toys they drag around with them whenever they leave the house. In my family, the Toy Story characters have always been important to the boys. Toy Story came out shortly after Luke was born. He's fourteen now and has moved onto other favorites, but at the time, he couldn't get enough of Toy Story. As my other boys came along, each of them took a turn with Toy Story being their favorite. Now, my youngest is eight. While Toy Story is no longer his movie of choice, he still cherishes the Toy Story toys he's collected over the years. He has no fewer than five Woody and Buzz figures in various sizes. Some talk and some don't. Some stay on his bed, just like Andy kept them in the movie. I didn't realize how important each of them were until this week when the Toy Story Wars broke out in our house.
At some point as the boys were discussing toys, Paul, our eleven-year-old (twelve next month. Yikes!) mentioned that he'd never had a Toy Story toy. I'm not absolutely positive that's the case, as I've bought quite a few of them over the years, but he says he's never had one. Nicky generously offered to give his brother one of his own toys so that Paul could experience the joy that Woody and Buzz give to children. It was a very nice gesture, and appropriate, especially considering how many Toy Story toys Nicky owned anyway.
Well, within a day they were constantly arguing over the toy. Nicky finally came to me and asked if I would make Paul give back the Woody toy. I told Nicky that a gift was a gift, and you can't change your mind and take it back later. That wasn't fair or nice. Nicky actually got tears in his eyes, and with horror in his voice he told me that Paul hated Woody and was disrespecting him. (Yes, he actually used that word!) It seems that Paul lost no time in taking the belt and the vest off the Woody doll that he was given, leaving him with his boots, yellow plaid shirt and a pair of jeans. In Nicky's mind, the vest and belt were part of the essence of Woody, and when Paul took them off, he was showing his dislike of the Woody character. So in Nicky's mind, Paul was no longer deserving of a Toy Story toy.
To complicate matters further, Nicky supposedly told Paul he wanted the belt off the Woody toy that he kept. Paul tried to oblige him, but those belts aren't supposed to come off, and he tore a large hole in the front of the toy. Now Nicky especially feels that Paul owes him the Toy Story toy back.
So what am I going to do? Who's in the right here? I admit I'm a little torn over the circumstances, so when they brought the problem to me, I did what any good mother would do. I took both toys, set them aside, and promised to discuss it with their father this evening. Why should I always be the bad guy?