Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The saddest (not really sad) thing a parent has to do

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So yesterday morning I brought a load of stuff to our local Goodwill pickup area.

Included in the haul was a huge barrel of Lincoln Logs and my daughter’s once-cherished Calico Critters. One of the Critters is pictured above, confused about her plight and wondering why she’s about to be thrown onto a truck and sent to a nearby used items supply store.

OK, admittedly, the Critter was made in China, can be melted down and has no emotions. But, for me, it’s a gut punch. My daughter Casey is now 15, my son Emmett is 12. I’ve started teaching her to drive. Most of his time is spent with electronics, taking apart and piecing together. They no longer respond to pretend voices of stuffed animals, to hug requests from toy bunnies. The figurines who once mattered no longer matter. They gather dust, wondering, “Is someone going to play with me?”

Answer: No.

So we pass them on and—as the wife wisely reminds me and herself—other children will get joy. Which is great and amazing and beautiful. Truly, it is.

But I don’t merely feel as if I’m unloading a crate of toys.

I feel as if I’m bidding farewell to a pair of childhoods.