Friday I picked up the kids from school and we headed down to Temec to see Madagascar 2. We had some time to kill after we’d gotten some lunch (primary rule of family outings: eat first, hungry children are the devil’s playthings) and before our showing started, so we decided to kill some time in the mall.

One of the shops we popped into was an American Greetings outlet. We spent about twenty minutes in there because Luke could not be pulled away from the big rack of 2008 collectible Christmas ornaments. Specifically, the Model T ornament, the “antique console-style television that shows the Andy Griffith Show on the screen and whistles the theme song when you press the button” ornament, the Union Pacific vintage aerotrain ornament, the John Deere tractor ornament…you get the idea. This isn’t the first time I’ve suspected that my son was born in the wrong era: he has an ardent passion for gadgets and vehicles built during the first half of the 20th century.

Sadly I could not afford to buy any of them for him — the matinee movie and lunch at Souplantation were our big splurge for the week, because we’re high rollers that way — and eventually we got him out of there.

After the movie (which was hilarious) we did some grocery shopping. Our last stop of the night was at Henry’s, one of those save-the-planet whole foods stores. We were in the dairy aisle when suddenly Luke’s eyes lit up and he pointed to something up high on the wall. “I want one of those!” he announced in tones of suppressed excitement.

I looked where he was pointing, and saw this:


“You want…a dollhouse?” I asked uncertainly.

“It’s not a dollhouse,” he said, sounding mightily affronted. “It’s a playset. And also I want a Model T that’s the right size for the garage, and a little TV. And a fireplace.”

“I…um…” Possibly I could afford to get him these things for Christmas, in addition to the Satisfactorily Manly microscope and pocketwatch he’d already requested. But…well, I’m not proud of this, but…my brain was seizing up at the thought of what would happen if word got out that I had bought my eight-year-old son a dollhouse for Christmas.

It must have shown on my face, because Luke’s own expression lost some of its self-assurance. “It’s a playset,” he repeated, but he didn’t sound as sure of it this time. “Except…I guess that one does look a little bit like a dollhouse. I want a playset that doesn’t look like a dollhouse. With a TV and a fireplace and a Model T.”

Well then.

Yesterday while the kids were visiting their dad I was surfing the net, searching for the manliest dollhouse — er, playset — I could find.

Turns out there really are some fine manly dollhouses out there. This one’s nice:


It’s also $250. Apparently you pay extra for the manliness, because pretty much every “playset” that isn’t made of pink plastic costs upwards of $80. Which didn’t seem like a lot last Christmas when the bucketfuls of money were still coming to this address, but now it sounds like a big damn chunk of cash. And naturally they don’t come STANDARD with Model T’s and fireplaces and televisions, so THAT’S going to be another limb. Why can’t he just be into Pokemon like all the other eight-year-olds?

Elizabeth has asked me for exactly one thing for Christmas: a metal detector. She is SO OVER the whole budgeting thing, and wants to use her metal detector to find loose change wherever she goes so that she can return to the good old days when she actually got to buy stuff from time to time.

Ah, the heartwarming spirit of Christmas.

Can you feel it?

Categories: Christmas, Family, kids, Life, NaBloPoMo | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “It’s A PLAYSET.

  1. Mia

    Why not give him a dollhouse…err playset that will change day by day? Lincoln Logs? Very manly and girls love em too! As for metal dectors we have seen one at the Bass Shop that was $59.00…

    Good Luck!
    I’m happy mine just wants a candy cane!


  2. Debora

    They already have a set of Lincoln Logs, and like them. But Lincoln Logs have their limitations as far as the complexity of floorplans you can create, and their tendency to fall apart if you try to move them or fiddle around with them too much.

    The thing is…other than the social stigma of a boy owning a dollhouse…I can’t really think of a single reason WHY it’s unmanly. He wants to be a husband and father some day, and own his own house (and his own Model T)…shouldn’t I be encouraging this sort of play rather than glamorizing the violence of “typical” boy toys?


  3. Mia

    I like crossing those lines all the time. After all Lily was Harry Potter for Halloween. Down to the glasses…

    I like the ‘Hey we can put it back in the box’ bit with Lincoln Logs. You could always ask someone…or if you have the tools to make a basic house shape…add some floors and then let him go to twon with paints to make it his own. Like a cross section of a house. Thinking of doing it for Lily and then attaching it to the wall. When she outgrows the Dollhouse bit I’ll repaint it and poof! shelves for books 😉


  4. Jen

    So so funny! There’s got to be a way to get the money for one, maybe recycling or selling stuff. Ive always thought of asking restaraunts for their glass bottles to recycle…


  5. Debora

    I’ll get it for him one way or another. Speaking of recycling…I was at the recycling center last week, and the value of everything there has crashed along with the stock market. They had bins and bins and bins of scrap metal just sitting there waiting for the value to go back up, because right now it would cost them more to transport the materials out than they would get in return. Crazy, huh?


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