One common trope that we've all heard is how raising a child is like reliving our own childhood. While this has proven to be grossly inaccurate in my own experience, watching the boy grow up has surfaced some long-buried memories of my own childhood when I was about his age1. This happened again today while we were at the mall and he picked up a toy car of Anpanman driving a steamroller. Regardless of how nonsensical the toy was2, it reminded me very much of a time when I was still an only-child, walking along King St. in Hamilton with my parents. There was a toy that I very much wanted that resembled the toy my son asked for today.
Some time in the summer of 1981, just a few months before my sister was born, I would walk with my parents to the mall downtown. The distance on the map shows we would travel almost two kilometres in each direction, though I don't recall how long this trek would take. What I do remember very clearly is a corner store3 somewhere between Wellington and Catharine Street4 that had a large collection of Hot Wheels cars in the window. One particular car that I would look at every time we went by was the car that Fred Flintstone would drive in the cartoon. It was a bizarre imagining of a prehistoric vehicle, and I wanted it.
One day my parents caved and picked up the car for me. After paying for the toy, they opened the package and I took it outside immediately to play with it on the sidewalk. My parents and I continued on our way to Jackson Square, Woolworth's5, or wherever the heck it was that we were going that day, and I would push the Flintmobile along the sidewalk a few feet at a time.
My parents were either very patient with me, or I don't recall how quickly my father6 insisted I carry the car and keep up with them. If I was as active or talkative at the age of two as the boy, then it's probably some combination thereof. From this point on, however, I would always have a toy car with me whenever I left the house. Fred Flintstone's car stayed with me for the summer, and I remember preferring a red Nissan I called "Turbo" around the same time as my sister was born.
This entire memory, and most of the footnotes, flashed through my mind in the split second it took my son to hand me the toy and ask that I open the package7. Maybe the old adage isn't so inaccurate after all.
The boy is a little over two. Where does the time go?
Anpanman is a children's superhero who files. He'll always choose to fly, even when he has the opportunity to sit in a vehicle going to the same destination.
This was a corner store in the truest sense of the word: a small convenience store that was incredibly cramped inside and was run by an older gentleman. I used to remember his name, as my parents would always say hello, but time has taken this away.
I remember the street names because I would go to the very same store 16 years later every morning to buy a National Post newspaper and can of Pepsi while en route to the second college I attended.
This store is long, long gone from Hamilton.
My father was far less patient than my mother.
He hasn't yet learned how to ask that we buy things for him.