Selling Off My Children’s Futures

Posted on July 10, 2010

6


Gone forever.

Many people fondly remember the warm and fuzzy events of their childhoods: the sight of presents under the Christmas tree, a trip to the zoo or to the beach or to the amusement park, the taste of a favorite food that only Mom could cook so well.  My children, on the other hand, remember things belonging to them that I have thrown out or sold.  They have mentally cataloged each item with the precision of a Blu-Ray disk, to be pulled out at random times when my defenses are down.

Recently, my son Josh emailed me an article about someone having paid $31,000 for an Atari game.  For those of you who were born after the advent of Nintendo, Atari was a prehistoric version of Nintendo that involved a lot of “wars” between a lot of beings who had a lot of extremely space age names but who had only the complexity of a few colorful Legos snapped together.  Josh, who had entered the universe only three years before the Atari 2600 did, became obsessed.

I didn’t have to read the article to know what the actual message was.  But, just in case I missed it, Josh cc’d his brother and sister, so that they could get in on the action.  He wrote:
“Mom, remember when I got back from high school or summer camp or something, and you told me that you had sold my entire collection of old video games including about a dozen Atari 2600 games?
Me: You SOLD my entire video game collection without asking me, while I was gone???
You: It’s great! Someone gave me $19 for the entire set! I’ll split the money with you!
One of the most indelible things about that conversation is that you had sold it for like $19, not even 20, like you and the buyer had haggled to 19…”

He signed the email “Love, Josh” which I couldn’t read at first because my hands were firmly clamped over my face, while I moaned “Oh Dear God, it’s come back to haunt me again.”  It took me awhile to summon the courage to read the article.  I was relieved that it said that the lucky person who sold the game had purchased it at Tuesday Morning, a store that specializes in selling overstocked and remainder items.  I was expecting the article to say “He purchased it at a yard sale from a woman who didn’t seem to have any idea what she was selling.  Nor did she care.”

I tried to lighten up the mood by joking that the worst of it was that I used the money to buy myself a new set of big shoulder pads (This was the eighties, remember), but Josh never responded to my weak attempt at levity.

I have been reminded of having sold the Atari games as many times as I have been reminded of my having either sold or given away their entire comic book collections,  their Star Wars collection, and their other assorted bits and pieces of value that made their lives worth living.  What I can never understand is that in spite of the fact that I am told that I have sold everything of value in their childhoods, I still seem to have enough of their items stored in my attic to stock every flea market in the state of Florida.

I don’t suppose it would make my kids feel any better to know that I am the victim of my own penchant for getting rid of things.  In high school, I gave my own entire comic book collection away to a young Russian immigrant who I had been tutoring.  I thought the comics would be a great inducement to him to practice reading English.  Given that many of the comics were given to me by a much older cousin and were real classics (Little Lulu’s mom was shown in the beauty parlor with her hair wrapped around electrical cords that went up to some kind of device on the ceiling), I’ve thought on several occasions that the little boy could have ultimately sold the lot of them, taken his bounty back to his homeland, and used the nest egg to turn himself into one of those new age Russian billionaires.  

My only salvation is that my daughter Yael’s vast Little Mermaid collection is still intact.   This is most likely because, technically, she has never actually outgrown it.  Yael is a legendary Little Mermaid devotee.  There aren’t many brides who have Little Mermaid-themed showers with a huge custom-designed Ariel cake.   If Little Mermaid ever becomes a collector’s item, my grandchildren will have their college educations paid for (that is, if Yael is ever able to part with the items).

Other than that, I am prepared to be reminded at regular intervals that my habit of tossing is the only thing that stands between my children and their deserved lives of luxury.  I just hope I never see an article about a wealthy Russian who got his jump start by selling a valuable vintage comic book collection.  After all, I have my own unfulfilled but extremely well-deserved life of luxury.

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