Like a kid in a toy store

July 10,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman( )
I don’t want to spend a post rattling off my resume, but throughout my career I’ve been pretty fortunate to work on some fairly cool projects. I’ve worked on Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the World Cup and Ironman Triathlon. I’ve met Hall of Fame athletes and Oscar-winning actors. I’ve produced websites for NFL football teams and events featuring NCAA National Champions (basketball). Part being in the right place at the right time, part luck and part actually knowing what I’m doing – for the most part, it’s been a labor of love. But, all of that may pale in comparison to the adventure I had today.

But before I go into those details…

As I’ve said before, one of the great things about having a kid is the opportunity to be a kid. Beyond simply seeing the world through K-Man’s eyes, being his dad provides me with the…responsibility (sure, that’s what it is) to buy him really cool games and toys. Of course, I buy such toys solely with his benefit in mind. I only get him games that will inspire, engage and test his imagination. Oh, and I only buy him stuff that I want to play with, too!

When he was merely weeks old and couldn’t do much more than eat, sleep and poop, I got him his first basketball hoop. It’s never too early to start working on his coordination, right? Nah, that was all for me. Just being a doting dad? Hardly. His arrival was simply a fabulous excuse for me to get one of those play hoops. (Though it’s not time yet, I’m sure he’ll “need” to have “Rock Band 2” very soon.)

But I digress – in a big way. The point of this story is about today. Today, I had a meeting at the offices of one of the world’s most well-known toy brands. Talk about being a kid. It’s impossible to walk through the halls of this company without gawking at all the cool stuff on the walls and in the offices. One can’t help but feel happy surrounded by the toy models, vivid colors and…memories.

I spent a good part of my childhood playing with toys made by this company. Hours upon hours of play time that actually did put my imagination to the test and inspire me to build epic structures. It’s amazing how certain sights, sounds, feelings and smells can bring on a rush of long-forgotten memories. But, walking the halls and seeing where the models were made were enough to make me feel closer to 4 than 40.

I remember days when I would just hole up in my room and build crazy structures, creatures and other things that probably looked like nothing more than a mess to my parents, but to me were my vision of Mars or some future landmark. Rainy days weren’t sad – they were celebrations of time with these toys. I’m pretty sure that I still have boxes of the toys in my old room…and I know that I still have a few completed models that I never tore apart.

And now? K-Man plays with these very same toys. I LOVE getting down on the floor to play with the toys with him. It’s even better than that basketball hoop I bought early in his life (which he likes, but not like these toys). It’s like a rite of passage, I think. I have no doubt that, should he ever have kids of his own, they, too, will play with these toys. They’ve been around for over 50 years, and they’ll be around forevermore.

I had great feelings of anticipation before this meeting. I knew that it was going to be a cool experience, but I just didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmed by the memories. This company IS childhood. It IS parenting. It’s so woven into the very fabric of so many lives. Okay…I think my career is complete now. I can retire. (If only…)