Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson Column: Other people’s stuff is way cooler than yours

I just saw one of the most memorable events of my childhood flash before my eyes. I totally blame my kids for the replay. I also blame my entire family: my mother and father, but mostly my sister for the unjust events of my youth.

I blame myself, too, for my allowance for history to repeat itself.

It’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth. (Well, that could be my morning vitamin but that sounds way less dramatic.)

I think I have told you about Bear Bear? That was my prized stuffy growing up. The gangly tan bear had super long arms compared to its torso. He had floppy ears and a round head and a happy smile. I loved him. I loved snuggling with him at night especially as his limbs allowed him to snuggle me back. That’s why it was so cruel that my sister stole him from me and managed to convince my parents that he was hers all along. Talk about mean.

The settlement? Unfair!

I got visitation rights overnight every Christmas Eve. That was it. Every other time I went into my sister’s green room with the single bed to the left of the staircase, I had to see that Bear Bear was seated with my sister’s things, and not in his rightful spot in my room across the landing. Everyone knew that silly bear was mine and yet my sister won the case. How? I’m not sure. Her dogged determination and my reluctance to engage in epic battles I suppose. Regardless, my parents sided with her.

Why is other people’s stuff so much cooler than our own?

The other day my son gifted my daughter a plush dragon from the movie series How to Train your Dragon. The day after he gave it to her, he tried to convince her that he should have it instead. Never mind the great pains he felt choosing just the right gift for his kid sister, this dragon was awesome and he wanted it for his own.

I flashed back to my youth as their negotiations began. He said it could be his but she could snuggle with it whenever she wanted. She said it could still be hers and he could play with it but it would still live with her. It went on and on. Most recently it’s that she can play with it on school days and he can have it the rest of the time and although she named it “Fire Breather”, he can call it “Wind Blower” for a nickname. I don’t think my youngest understands it’s summertime and there is no school. In any event, I blame myself for not being more firm with my son about the fact it was my daughter’s. I do, however, understand my mom’s point of view better now.

My son has never attached to any stuffy. He likes this one and I’d like him to have it for comfort if that’s what he gets from it. My daughter has a lot of them to play with — many of which were her brother’s previously unloved plush friends. Even so, it doesn’t feel right. I just remembered my son also commandeered another stuffy a couple of Christmases ago. A dog named Puppa that you can microwave and heat up. (I do feel terrible putting the dog in the microwave, even if it’s just the stuffed kind.)

Anyway, all this to say there’s just something cool about other people’s stuff. That includes other people’s yards.

A few days ago it was two water bottles, two packs worth of gum jammed into one, one blanket, one small fox stuffed into a purse, one two-foot-tall plush dog, one Lego snake, three Lego figures, an iPad, an umbrella, a light saber, and two hats.

A few days later it was two water bottles, four Nerf guns, two granola bars, a container of popcorn, some cheese and crackers, a roll of clear tape, and an exercise band.

These are the packing lists my children came up with the last two times they’ve made the 37-step trip to my neighbours’ backyard to play.

Those were the items my kids felt their neighbour friend absolutely needed to see — all the things the neighbour kid apparently absolutely did want to see.

Much like playing with other people’s stuff, there’s something so magical about playing in a yard that’s not your own. I suppose it’s akin to grownups going on vacation. A change of scenery, a change of pace, and new things to do.

The neighbour’s yard is like Shangri-La compared to ours. They’ve got a neat swing set that has a slide, a swing and a bit of a fort, and they’ve got a cool little trampoline as well.

We’ve got a patch of clover-filled grass, a toddler swing the kids have long outgrown and some really big spiders.

That being said, there always seems to be something novel for the neighbours to play with in our yard — even if it’s just the stick collection or the flat basketball.

I don’t know why other people’s stuff is so much cooler than our own but I do know one thing. Never let your sibling play with your favourite stuffies. You may just end up losing custody.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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