Friday, October 2, 2009
yo-yo #64: laminated rd-1
my family and i were at target last week (or tar-jay, because we're high-fashion french-types). we were meandering through the toy section, idly discussing the bike that everyone knew we were planning to buy caitie for her 7th birthday. we had straight-up SOLD her bike at our yard sale the week before to an adorable 4 year-old, and cait had watched it go with a degree of nostalgic sadness. she could barely fit on the thing though; it was time for an upgrade.
i asked cait what she wanted besides the bicycle, and was surprised by her response: "a yo-yo... a nice one like yours". my daughter has never really paid any attention to my yo-yoing. sometimes she jokes that it's an embarrassment at the bus stop or imitates her mom in rolling her eyes when i play in the department store. lately though, she's asked to play quite a lot. she has several yo-yo's, most of them cheap party favors that she prizes not for their play, but for their depiction of favorite cartoon characters. i gave her a mosquito awhile back when she asked to learn the basics, and chris allen kindly sent her a yellow proyo awhile back, cause he's nice.
now, however, she was intimating that she wanted a "nice one". part of me fell into the mode of thinking that i experienced as a teacher whenever a kid asked me about buying an expensive yo-yo. "you don't need one. play what you've got, learn to love it and ask me again in a few years." the father in me though, was busy thinking "she's interested in what i'm interested in? seriously? where's my credit card??"
somewhere in between, it occurred to me that i really do have a lot of yo-yo's... probably an unhealthy amount. and lately, i only really play my no jives, my flying v's, and a few others with any regularity. it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to buy a 7 year-old a brand new fancy yo-yo. i don't want her to feel tied to it; she's 7! at that age, one's hobbies should be as fluid as water. you feel like yo-yoing today? play your yo-yo. tomorrow you want to bury your yo-yo in the sandbox? knock yourself out. i'm not one of those parents that expects my kids to take their pastimes very seriously, but neither am i one to deny a birthday wish.
i decided to channel mr. miyagi, and asked her to choose. my wife suggested that i give her 3 options that i wouldn't mind losing, but i had other ideas. i don't like to be too attached to things, and when i get attached, i sometimes need to find a way to let go of the object(s) in question. i don't want to be the kind of person who would hesitate for an INSTANT if my kid asks me for something i can easily give them on their birthday. when my wife suggested i put limitations on what my daughter can have, my immediate reaction was "oh yeah, good idea". however, THAT VERY REACTION indicated a problem. that was really only my reaction because i'd be AFRAID that she'd pick one of my most prized toys. and THAT... is inherently lame; no getting around it.
to my daughter, all of the yo-yo's on the wall of the 'yo-yo room' are toys. as such, she has a much more accurate and unclouded understanding of them than i do. i equate them with 'value'; either monetary value or sentimental value. this is a problem, because my attachment to them obstructs my ability to see them for what they fundamentally are: playthings.
i gave my daughter an unlimited choice. from the 100's of yo-yo's in the room, which cost anywhere between $1 and around $450 (and several of which i would truly call 'priceless'), i said "pick any one you want". i did this for ME; not for her. i did this because the moment i said it, i was giving EVERY yo-yo in there to her. i was offering EVERY one up, and in so doing, i was severing the connections i had with each of them.
what if she picked the mg??? PICK the mg! TAKE IT. i'll set it up so it's tug-responsive and i'll smile when you do 'creeper' on the driveway. what if she picked an eric wolff??? PICK an eric wolff! i've enjoyed them all. and while i view them as high art, they play AWESOME... and i firmly believe that no yo-yo - NO yo-yo can 'do better' for itself than by being played and adored by a child. if it could talk, the yo-yo that shinya used to win worlds this year might say it's pretty happy... but i'd wager its joy would be NOTHING next to the one that any 4th grader uses to make his first loop-the-loop. and what if she picked "no jive #1"??? how could i give away my favorite yo-yo of all time? PICK #1!!! i'm always saying that playing that yo-yo taught me humility. i say it taught me that i don't need anything fancy to amaze myself, and that 'it's not the yo-yo that matters'... if i'm not prepared to give it to my kid, then i'm full of shit. and playing it hasn't taught me anything at all.
i think you need to be hard on yourself sometimes. i often make little challenges to myself and hold myself to them really strictly. some of them are relatively silly and easy like this, and others are harder. i don't want to be the kind of man who says one thing and does another. i'm truly more afraid of finding myself to be a hypocrite than anything else. some days i wonder if there's anything else to really be afraid of. guns and monsters and root canals... you can find the strength to face any kind of terror in this life. but looking at yourself honestly and recognizing your own hypocrisy? that's a whole different kind of scary.
caitie walked around the room a little bit, and then picked this yo-yo. a 2003 tom kuhn rd-1. made of purple, green, and blue laminated wood. it plays just fine. nice and smooth, not too heavy, and it responds well. this will be a good yo-yo for her to learn with, at whatever speed she wants. she's not really ready for a big gap, and i'm glad that she didn't choose one... but i'm glad for HER, and not for myself. i'm happy she picked the rd-1, because it was the one she liked, but i'm also happy because i passed the test i gave myself. it occurs to me that i'm relieved that i WASN'T relieved; that i could have handed any of those damn yo-yo's over to her with a smile. for a minute there, i was worried that it would be tough to do so, but i know better now.
happy birthday caitlyn. how time flies.