So many of us have memories involving toy cars and old toy trucks from our childhood…which ones we loved best…how we “customized” our diecast cars with hammers, colored markers and other makeshift customizing tools…and how we took a beating on account of what we did–or did not do–with our toys…
I’ll start by admitting that having two older brothers has made my life easier, in some ways. For one thing, their orneriness helped reduce my risk of getting a whipping. My mom and dad were usually so busy trying to wrangle them that I stayed under the whipping radar. I got to watch a lot of them, though. There’s one that stands out to me. It also brings to mind how my brother lost one of his favorite toy trucks.
Although I was very young when the Tonka truck assault took place, it’s a scene I’ll never forget.
It was a Saturday morning, and my brothers were around 5 and 6 years old then. Out of the three of us, the 5-year-old usually woke up first. He was one of those “can’t help but to love him” kind of kids. His cuteness probably saved his life more than once. Wild, stick-straight hair that grew out in dark tufts…a monkey-ish face…that hoarse little-boy voice that got your attention…
That particular Saturday though, he was having a lot of trouble getting my mom’s attention.
Although my oldest brother was still resting quietly, my 5-year-old brother and I were ready to start the day.
We had awakened before my mom did, and apparently, my brother was hungry. I grew up to become a toy car collector, but back then, my old toys included a kitchen playset and lots of plastic food. Make-believe pancakes weren’t enough for my brother, though. He wanted the real things, and he wanted our mom to cook them.
With me following along behind him, my brother made his way into my mom and dad’s bedroom. My dad was in the army back then, and he was in the field a lot. This particular Saturday, he was away at a training exercise–which is really fortunate for my brother, because the little guy would have seen some serious combat that day. He might even have ended up needing to have one of his old toy trucks surgically removed from his body.
At first, my brother tried to be quiet. He pushed open the door just enough for us to squeeze inside, and then crept up alongside my mom’s bed. Being a toy truck collector, he usually carried at least one with him, wherever he went. That day was no different. He was clutching his Tonka toy truck the same way I used to hold my favorite blanket.
“Mommy,” he whispered.
“Mommy.” Again a whisper, but a little louder this time.
Our mom stirred a little bit and then rolled over, turning away from him.
Not willing to give up the quest for mom’s pancakes, my brother called out to her once more, his hoarse voice sounding a little bit desperate.
That got a response from our mom, but not the one my brother was hoping for. Instead of hopping out of bed and running for the kitchen, she pulled the covers up over her head.
I’m not sure what emotion came over my brother at that point, and to this day, he says he doesn’t know why he did what he did. But he knows he did it, because I saw it, and my mom felt it.
With all the strength a hungry 5-year-old boy can gather, he raised that toy truck high in the air with both hands, and then brought it back down, landing it firmly on the back of my mom’s head.
In terms of getting our mom’s attention, this was highly effective.
However, it did not bring about the pancake feed that my brother originally hoped for.
Half-dazed and in pain, my mom howled, and then popped up from the bed. My brother’s fight-or-flight response had kicked in, and he chose flight. It was no use. Our mom somehow managed to grab the back of his Spiderman PJs before even opening her eyes.
By that point, my sense of self-preservation kicked in and I was en route to the living room. I loved my brother– and I loved pancakes–but I wasn’t going down as an accomplice. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the sounds of my brother wailing only made me more sure that I’d done the right thing by bailing on him.
I heard crunching sounds, too. Later, when everything had calmed down, I peeked in the bedroom and saw the carnage. I don’t know what she used, but my mom had turned that truck into a pile of diecast scrap.
Although I did not witness the whipping my brother got, I still learned from it. This is one of only a few times in my life that I’ve learned from the actions of others, instead of having to find out for myself why not to do something. I am proof of God’s perfect patience and His mercy.
As for the Tonka truck assault, though, I learned the easy way. Maybe this will help someone else, too. It’s too late for my brother. But maybe it’s not too late to stop other collectors from using old toy trucks as weapons, even in the name of pancakes.
Here are the three highlights I took away from the experience:
1. Do not use Tonka trucks as an alternative to alarm clocks.
2. When your mom is sleeping, allow her to awaken naturally, and without head trauma.
3. When entering a potential danger zone, whenever possible, always let your older brother go first.