M. SCOTT MORRIS: Whirligig stirs up old memories

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

During spring break, my son, Evan, was under pressure to spend his grandparents’ money.
We’d visited a science museum and learned about the wonders of the human body. The gift shop was by the exit.
My daughter, Olivia, picked a pen resembling a hypodermic needle. She pretended to give shots and liked how I cringed when it was my turn.
Evan eventually chose a plastic circle on a string. It had lights that were supposed to look cool when twirled.
When we got back to the grandparents’ house, he forgot about his purchase and played with other toys.
Later that day, he said, “I wish I’d gotten something else.”
My first reaction was annoyance at the situation, but not at Evan or his grandparents.
I get an uneasy feeling when the kids have money and think they must spend it immediately. They’ve gotten seriously stressed because they couldn’t find anything they wanted, but still felt the overpowering need to spend that cash. And many of those cheap, plastic toys end up lost or forgotten sooner rather than later.
It doesn’t seem healthy, but I understand how it happens. All of the kids’ grandparents live out of town, so they want to do little kindnesses for the kids when they do get together. It makes its own sense.
My second reaction was to ask him over so I could check out the toy.
Suddenly, I was the same age as Evan, remembering those spinning, light-up toys at the circus, and how I begged my parents and grandparents for one. The answer was a consistent “No.”
“Granddaddy made those out of buttons when he was your age,” Mom said. “He’ll make you one.”
I pouted and said I didn’t want one that didn’t light up. I seem to remember Granddaddy making a whirligig for me, but I wasn’t interested.
I wish my 8-year-old self hadn’t been such an idiot. Live and learn: The only gifts I get from my grandparents these days are memories.
Back to the present day, Evan handed me the shiny toy that had bored him.
“Of course, you’re bored,” I said. “You’re doing it wrong.”
I told him to hold the string in each hand then twist it. Once it’s good and twisted, it’s supposed to keep spinning, as long as you pull the string at the right time. It creates a satisfying “whooshing” sound.
Evan and I had ourselves a big time with that doohickey. I told him about Granddaddy. He appreciated the story and asked a follow-up question: “Were you always stupid?”
He didn’t really say that, but he did interview me about Granddaddy and my lingering regret about that day at the circus so long ago.
The toy’s seen quite a bit of use since our return from spring break, and it’s reminded me of an important truth: Not all cheap plastic stuff is created equal.
M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.