Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hidden treasures

Behold, the elusive yellow plastic circle thingy:

This is one of ten pieces belonging to the Tupperware "Shape O" ball. Chances are that you probably had this shape sorter when you were a child, as it was developed many years ago by cavemen to teach their kids how to recognize the wheel they just developed, along with other shapes and objects still on the drawing board. Kyle received this toy for Christmas, and at that time the ball contained ten pieces. Since then, the circle has become our own Loch Ness Monster, with knowledge of its existence kept alive merely through rumor and folktales. The circle vanished so early during its stay here that many have wondered whether it was even part of the set. There's one belief that Tupperware deliberately did not include a circle piece and left a slot for one in the ball to screw with children's minds and teach them some sort of lesson about life.

Then, sometime in February, any denial over the existence of the circle was shattered. In the fog of our living room (our radiators give off a lot of steam), our Loch Ness Monster reappeared as mysteriously as it had disappeared. I leaped in excitement and was about to call all our friends and neighbors, but then realized that perhaps they would not quite understand the significance of the yellow plastic circle thingy's return, and I did not want them to ruin the moment. Turns out that was a wise move, because the moment was incredibly brief, as the piece vanished within days, returning to the stuff of legend for several more weeks. Sometimes it would come back and take its friends away in the night, leaving Kyle to play with only half the shapes he should have. In recent days, though, all pieces have returned to their rightful place, including the yellow circle. Its reappearance allowed me to finally take a picture of it, proving that it does, in fact, exist. I plan to showcase it on a talk show next week.

The disappearance of the elusive yellow plastic circle thingy is not the only phenomenon happening in our New York City apartment. Other objects have also mysteriously vanished. A set of twelve Sesame Street mini-books Kyle received as a gift now has just ten books. A jungle play set that came with six colorful balls now has only two. Several stuffed animals are MIA, and so is a Curious George book. Who knows where they all went, though I suspect the Curious George story may have vanished to the same watering hole the man with the yellow hat always seems to be visiting whenever his monkey runs amok.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of all is the disappearance of Kyle's first birthday gift, the Oball. Jennifer and I are not sure exactly when it ceased to exist; we just noticed one day that Kyle had stopped playing with it, and we have not seen it anywhere. The only known photographs I have of it, in fact, are from his birthday. I believe this is the largest of all the objects that have vanished, and I am puzzled as to how it happened. After all, we live in an apartment. Sure, it's no studio, but it's no townhouse, either. We're on one floor with adjoining rooms, a so-called "railroad apartment." We do not have our own yard, our own deck, or our own killer sand creature like the one in "Return of the Jedi." If we did, then the disappearance of these things would make more sense. Our home appears to have very few hiding places, but somehow, someway, these objects have found a good one.

While we hardly ever see Kyle play with these toys after they go into hiding, he might know where this perfect hiding spot is. That could explain how some things unexpectedly reappear. Such was the case several months ago, one morning shortly after Jennifer went to work. Kyle had left me in the middle of a deep conversation and ran to his bedroom. I didn't bother to follow, since his bedroom is a relatively safe place, if you overlook the snake pit, which I often do. Kyle did not spend much time in his room, and I sat there and watched him run out, back towards me with a big smile on his face... and a straw cup filled with water in his hand.

Funny, I thought to myself, I don't remember giving him a straw cup today. I hadn't yet, in fact, since it was still early in the morning, shortly after his breakfast, and I normally don't fill one up with water until later in the day. I e-mailed Jennifer and asked her if she gave him one before she left. She e-mailed me back saying she did not. I looked back at Kyle and saw him smiling and drinking away... and I wondered just how old that water was. Thank God it wasn't milk. Kyle must have retrieved that straw cup from the hiding spot, where it had sat overnight, or perhaps days or weeks, next to the Oball, the Sesame Street mini-books, the jungle play set balls, and the yellow plastic circle thingy.

Of course our son is not telling us where this hiding place exists, as he likes to find any way to build leverage over his parents. So I must go from day to day, wondering what's happening to most of his toys, trying to figure it out without going crazy crazy crazy. I am sure they will turn up eventually, but not before more toys, including something bigger (like his Elmo doll or the crib), will disappear. Or maybe there is no secret hiding place. Maybe Kyle's just selling is toys for profit on eBay. That certainly would explain how he was able to afford that new stereo system in his room.


erica said...

I think your yellow plastic circle thingy fell through the same wormhole as our orange wooden circle thingy from Kent's stacking toy. It was lost in my grandmother's house for almost a year, then she randomly found it and mailed it to us, and it was lost again within a week. Sigh.

JoannaP said...

Funny. They'll turn up eventually. Probably when he's packing up to go off to college.

spontamyous said...

This comment is ridiculously late, but I've been studying up on your lives (read: actively avoiding taking care of my child) so that we have something to talk about when you visit. And I loved this post. The end!