This past week, Alex seems to be in a nostalgic mood, as he has been busily rediscovering books, toys, software, and handheld electronic gadgets that he hasn’t used in months, or even years. His bedroom, which he has been keeping neat for quite a while, currently looks as though a tornado has torn through it because he’s been sorting through books on his bookshelves, toys in his toy box, and electronic games and gadgets in a basket. In our home office, he has software manuals and CD-ROMs lying on the desk. His desktop computer, which held less charm for him once he got his new laptop this summer, has regained favor as he has been playing old games on it. A few years ago, Alex developed a keen interest in simulation computer games and acquired a nice collection of software that allowed him to plan, build, and run various business ventures. After a while, though, he found Google, Wikipedia, and You Tube more interesting than his computer games. However, this week, he has resumed playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, Mall Tycoon, Restaurant Empire, and Casino Empire. The enthusiasm he formerly held for building roller coasters, malls, restaurants, and casinos has returned, and he gains satisfaction as he watches his plans develop through the sequence of the computer games.
Scattered on Alex’s bedroom floor are books that he hasn’t read in months and toys he hasn’t played with in ages. Among the books he’s studying again are two coin collection books of pennies, the NASCAR Road Atlas, and Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, a gift from a friend who thought I’d appreciate a book whose title contained the name my students call me. I’m not certain why Alex has resumed his fascination with coins, maps, and odd words, but I’m pleased that he knows where to find books that he enjoys. In addition, he’s been pulling out and playing all of his electronic interactive games: U.S. Presidents, Solar System, U.S.A. Map, and World Map. While I suspect that Alex probably knows all the answers to the questions these interactive games pose, maybe playing them again gives him confidence that he has learned the lessons they’ve taught him over the years. He has also been playing with two car-related toys that he’s had since he was little, the Hot Wheels Racing Steering Wheel and the Hot Wheels Auto Tech Service Center, both of which are speaking toys. Since most boys his age are out driving cars, I have to admit that I’m relieved that he’s just dealing with toy cars. Certainly with his motor delays, the Hot Wheels steering wheel is much safer for him to operate than a real steering wheel.
Besides software, books, and toys, Alex has also been digging through his handheld electronic games and gadgets that he has basically ignored for months. He’s been bringing old games to me to put new batteries in them, and in doing his mental inventory, he has realized that some gadgets he previously had have been lost or broken over the years. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, “Progress Achieved,” Alex had a small tape recorder that he would use after provoking us so that he could record our angry comments. He particularly liked replaying Ed’s earnest request “to stop torturing us,” and my middle school teacher voice insisting that Alex “sit down and be quiet because I’ve had enough!” Because he was driving us crazy with that thing, we hid it where he wouldn’t find it. Apparently, we found a really great hiding place because we can no longer find it, either. This week, Alex located a similar tape recording toy online and decided to purchase it using a gift card his uncle and aunt had given him. If he resumes using that gadget for evil instead of good, we will be mailing that Yadda Yadda Yadda, as it’s called, to Uncle John in New Jersey to do with as he pleases. Another gadget Alex decided to replace this week was his Talking Road Whiz handheld device that tells distances between cities and the locations of businesses along major highways—a simpler, less expensive version of GPS. As I recall, angry adolescent Alex threw the original Road Whiz in a fit of temper, which explains why none of the buttons work anymore, despite new batteries. We found the Road Whiz online, and he put some of his gift money toward a new one. Now he keeps using online tracking to see when these new toys will arrive. The other day, he informed me that he also wants a PDA and has been pricing them on the Internet. Although he wanted one several years ago, we did not get him the Palm Pilot he wanted, as we didn’t think he was responsible enough to take care of one of these expensive electronic aids. Now that he does generally do a good job of taking care of his things and has his own money saved to buy one, he’ll probably add another gadget to his collection. Considering that his father now travels nearly everywhere with a Kindle and an I-Pod Touch, Alex seems to be following in his footsteps with all his electronic accouterments. Despite the fun and excitement that come with new possessions, Alex still likes the familiarity of the old things and gains pleasure rediscovering them.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6:16