When I started packing up my children’s Playmobil figures New Year’s Day I thought to myself “Don’t fret. Nothing is going to Goodwill – I will keep these for later use“.
Brightly colored ‘people’ designed with clever German engineering, Playmobil toy sets feature little figures in themes like Pirates, Fairies, Cowboys, Gardening, and Family Life. All have hair and outfits which are interchangeable and they were a beloved toy in our house. These small sets are what my children played with most, over the years. A teenager now, my daughter especially spent untold childhood hours creating “set ups” with her Playmobil figures.
Silently keeping track in the back of my mind, I have to acknowledge it has been a full year since either child played picked up a Playmobil figure. Organized on a pine shelf in the TV room, the little slide-out bins feature small masking tape labels my daughter wrote in her often misspelled 2nd grade handwriting. I find myself indescribably sad putting away the Playmobil.
In some perverse hyper-detailed tunnel memory, I recall specific places, birthdays and holidays for which we received most of these little sets. The Fairy Playset was a gift from Santa at Nana’s house in Philadelphia five years ago. Dozens of the mini-figures came as stocking stuffers or package tie-ons over the years. Who could ever forget little garden cottage set which celebrated the end of a long and crappy 3rd grade year!
Some of these pieces I remember angrily pitching against the wall in frustration on Christmas Eves past. As a single Mom, I was sometimes up half the night, trying to assemble ridiculously over-engineered Playmobil worlds in time for Christmas morning.
But today was all about the dis-assembly. I drank several heavily sweetened cups of coffee and spent hours carefully snapping molded plastic hair onto each small body. The bins were dusty and littered also with childhood flotsam and jetsam – bits of origami paper, wrappers from candy, and tiny Japanese erasers. I sorted all the animals and people in to gallon sized plastic bags. Then, I carefully made piles based on the type of usage – furniture here, teensy plastic guns and weaponry here.
I was careful to ensure the pirates do not spend storage eternity with Roman soldier hair, or God forbid the sporty ski Mom ends up with a blonde fairy ponytail, or Grandma a glow-in-the-dark ghost mohawk.
As the morning progressed, other things began to bother me. Like, “Wait. This is the only little boy in a Ziploc with all adult Playmobil figures. He will be lonely – he needs another kid in the bag with him to play.”
From there, it was quickly downhill to sniffling and tears, worrying about those pathetic, abandoned Playmobil figures in the basement. Will someone ever snap their hair off again and change them around into strange adventures? Who will make a “setup” with all the pieces for a Christmas market, a school house or an Egyptian hut with a camel?
So – what is the next step? Am I to become one of those pitiful women counting the days until I can enjoy grandchildren? I had my children later in life and who knows where their lives will take them. Perhaps not into parenting!
At the end of the day, I have a Rubbermaid bin filled with carefully cleaned and sorted Playmobil in gallon bags. They are patiently waiting for someone to carry them down to the basement where they will spend long years without children in their lives.
I suppose the only thing I really know for sure today at the end of this dreaded chore: I was exceptionally careful to put the Robber Bad Guys and the Biker Gang in the same bag as the Lawmen.