I’d lost count of how many times Pops had said, “A tool is not a toy.”
Turns out, I’ve used that same one-liner with my own kids, though rarely. You see, their tools are things like sketching pencils, watercolors, pastels, and all sorts of assorted technological gadgetry.
Entering Pops’ workshop was a privilege, one obtained by permission only. Only, we rarely received any such privilege. I can recollect only a handful of times Pops and I stepped foot into that shop.
The times I most often recall were when I’d sneaked in on just my own two stealthy feet, keeping a watchful eye and ear out for other intruders. We kids were always up to
no good something.
Most of the time, this something was just plain old-fashioned play. Kids are no different today.
Like any underprivileged kid in a similar situation, I acquired many a toy straight from the gifts of Mother Nature herself—dirt, rocks, sticks, leaves, and water (nature’s strongest solvent as well as binding agent). Old discarded man-made items came in handy too—scrap wood, metal, and cloth. And these extra parts weren’t found in any junk drawer, they were salvaged from a junk pile.
tools toys I cherished most were Pops’. I just couldn’t help myself—he had everything I needed wanted—so I just sort of helped myself to them. The risk was always worth it.
Except this once.
The memory of this one exception in the
taking borrowing of Pops’ tools is forever etched in my mind, most likely because of the remaining scar that’s etched on my foot, not to mention I was caught red-handed and bloody-footed.
We kids were creating a metropolis from the depths of a pit we’d dug. It was a monumental undertaking. And we’d spent probably the better half of a summertime morning on it, so far.
With the excavation complete, the roads were ready to be cut. But how? What we needed was a bulldozer. And then it hit me, an axe blade I’d seen lying on the workbench. Tool-turned-toy-joy!
Off I ran to Pops’ shop, which, for obvious reasons, was locked. So my little feet just ran around to the back to shimmy on up to the window, which, for some unknown reason, was never locked.
And just like the Secret Agent Man on my school lunchbox, I was in and out of there, Spidey-speedy-quick-like too, with that old axe blade tucked carefully into the crook of my arm.
And boy! did that little bulldozer bull-doze that dirt. I was a big, hard-hat operator now, with my little fingers clutching onto that axe blade, cutting sharp and deep, dirt just melting away at the wayside.
By the time I was finished, I was melting away too. It was the hottest summer afternoon by this time, and the sweaty little palms of my hands (I [too] am not a crook!) just couldn’t take it any more.
So I took it on the foot, literally. That slippery little bulldozer nearly took my right big toe right off.
All I remember was that it wasn’t in my little five-year-old fingers anymore, and my big brother was carrying me, running me up to the house.
Then my mother started hollering, like usual. But these shouts were not like her usual hysterics. These screams somehow seemed real.
And then I looked where everyone else was looking, at my little bloody foot with its big toe hanging by the skinny-skin-skin of it.
Turns out, a tool actually is a toy—except this once.
Post loosely tied to The Daily Post writing prompt: “Toy Story”