Just what I always wanted
My mother gave my kids heavy-duty metal carry cases filled with art supplies for Christmas. Each case was geared to the age and interests of the kid, so my eldest got a nice sketch book and some art pens in his, and the middle one got lots of hands-on modelling stuff, and my youngest one got a bunch of stickers and other fun things. He also got a roll of transparent tape. Actually, all three got tape, but only my youngest really seemed to notice.
“Oh!” he yelled, true rapture in his voice, “It’s tape! Just what I always wanted!”
Now, to be clear, there are reasons for his rapturous joy. He has a short life’s history of taping things – anything, anywhere, whenever he can get his hands on a roll of the stuff. He isn’t particular about what kind (though double-sided annoys him and duct tape is a bit hard for him to manage). Anything sticky will do, and he’ll go through a whole roll in a matter of minutes, leaving a swathe of taped-up destruction behind him. Toys will be taped to the bannister, kitchen utensils to the table, stuffed animals to his bed, books to the shelves, remote controls to the couch – anything and everything taped to anything and everything. Which means we generally try to keep tape out of his grasp, and there are often tears when it’s removed from his possession.
So, while my mother thought she was merely giving one art staple among many, she was actually giving him a much greater gift, quite literally the thing he’s always wanted – tape – the supreme expression of holiday giving, at least to one four-year-old boy. On a Christmas when his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles gave him everything from nerf guns to video games, it was only the tape that he wanted to hold as he went to sleep that night.
More surprising, there have been no random tapings in the house. He used some of his tape to make crafts on Boxing Day, and he offered some to me (very seriously) when I was wrapping a present for a friend yesterday, but otherwise he’s kept it treasured up. When it was other people’s tape, it could be used without a thought, but this tape is his. It’s not to be wasted, because it’s what he always wanted.
Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged 10, eight, and four. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.