I recently found myself challenged with purchasing toys for a Toys for Tots drive, and having no kids, I must admit a big insecurity as to what toy is the right toy. There is no lack in judgment in the media lately about people making poor judgments, nor is there a lack of an outpouring of expressing disgust by the general public and Hollywood stars over these mis-steps, and it is only resolved by public apologies by the offender. Let’s face it. I am worried about making decisions where I would be judged as well…having poor judgment. I could be the next Miley Cyrus. Fear 1: being Miley Cyrus.
Because I waited until the last minute, I am left with one choice for one stop shopping, the Hudson Walmart next to my place of work where I can sneak out to during lunch. I am afraid of being fired. I will call this Fear 2: Loss of income due to shopping trip. Completely unreasonable, but I am anxious none the less. A third fear rises. Every Black Friday, the news publishes the stabbings and incidents where shoppers are pepper sprayed while jockeying for toys in Wal-Mart. My gosh, this sounds like I am taking my life into my hands. If I survive, will people know I supported an establishment that is not paying their employees $20 per hour and I am contributing to the suffering of families relying on that income? Oh my gosh a second time. So may expectations, so little time. Fear 3: Victim of Assault and Battery in Wal-Mart, Fear 4: Causing poverty, and let’s face it, Fear 5: Media coverage of me dying in Wal-Mart.
I eventually make the two mile hike to the toy aisles with the goal of Legos for a girl and Legos for a boy. I start with the boys. I am thinking a fire truck would be cool, or maybe Star Wars. No fire trucks. My choices are soldiers with guns, police with guns, a line called “Call of Duty” with even bigger guns, cowboys with guns, and pirates with swords. With the recent Patch coverage of the police destroying a toy gun from some kid’s Halloween costume, my anxiety rises. Yikes and Fear 6: Promoting violence. I have no idea what is Ok for a 12 year old boy. With my basket empty, I switch to the girl aisles.
I love Barbie. I used to make dresses out of Kleenex for mine and have fashion shows. But wait…I think we are now supposed to hate Barbie for not being anatomically proportionate. Fear 7: Promoting low self-esteem. Oh gosh again. I turn to the other dolls and check out the princesses. My next dilemma is an odd one. I have a mixed-race extended family, and when I go to buy birthday cards, the cards always feature white cartoon-people. I don’t want to look like a white supremacist, but like the birthday cards, the only princess on the shelf who is not white comes in a Disney’s Four Princesses set for about $75. Fear 8: People will think I am a racist.
One toy catches my eye. Straight out of the Hunger Games: a Nerf bow and arrow from the “Rebelle” line. Awesome! I want this for myself. I want to line up cans and knock them over. I want to shoot the little arrows and have my dogs fetch them in the back yard. Reality check, and back to Fear 6 of promoting violence and a new one: Fear 9: It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
I start reasoning with myself. What hurts more, to be shot by a Nerf “arrow” or to step on a Lego with bare feet? Fear 10: Stepping on a Lego with bare feet. The bow and arrow is looking better. I pick the bow set up. Oh! It comes in blue as well as pink. Yup, you guessed it, Fear 11: Promoting Gender Stereotypes.
I go to girl Legos and back to the race thing again. All Lego people appear to be a single non-diverse race of yellow, so I go back to the Barbies. I find one with cinnamon brown hair. Pretty. It looks like she has Miley’s wardrobe. Maybe this doll “twerks”. This could be a hot item. I eye other customers to see if they look like they might pepper spray me (fear 3 revisited) for the last non-Scandinavian looking Barbie (fear 8 revisited) and it looks safe. I go for it. I have lost all morals in reckless abandon due to Fear 2 of losing my job for spending the day in Walmart, so I now start grabbing toys that I would have wanted myself for Christmas. I go for the pink and purple Nerf Bow. If I decide it is too violent, I will keep this one for myself. The basket starts to fill.
I find the best Lego set ever. An equestrian, (a person who rides a horse) complete with the horse! This is the Best Lego Set Ever. And then it hits me. The rider is jumping the horse over a fence and she is not wearing a helmet. This is serious stuff. I recall earlier this year when our First lady, Michelle Obama, went to promote her “Let’s Move!” program with the release of the “Just Move” postage stamps. Unfortunately the well-intentioned stamps were printed and then destroyed before being released due to reports of the stamp representing “balance” featuring a kid doing a headstand without a helmet which could be unsafe. As much as I hope that the news reports were inaccurate media hype, this brings me to my final fear. Fear 12: Disappointing Michelle Obama.
With all my fears bundled into a soon-to-be-banned plastic Walmart bag, I brought my selection of toys to the greeter at the Toys for Tots fundraiser party. I handed my fears over to him. As he took each toy out of the bag and placed them into the big box of toys he made no judgment. He did not accuse me of being a racist trying to build my own child army. Instead he looked me in the eye and said:
“Thank you. Merry Christmas”.