Watching childhood disappear in the rear-view mirror

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We sold a car and bought a car last week. It was a milestone moment.

We’ve had a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe for more than five years. If you’re a parent, I’ll bet there’s a fair chance you own or have owned one too.

As far as I can recall, it was the first children’s toy we bought that was large enough that we had to build it ourselves – the first of a succession of ever larger, more complex and more expensive items that has rapidly made what used to feel like an enormous house decidedly cramped.

It’s also a rare toy that has been used by each of Isaac, Toby and Kara, being passed on ceremonially from one to the next and in constant use from year to year until outgrowing it and moving on to scooters and bikes.

But now its watch has ended. (No, hang on, that’s Game of Thrones, isn’t it?)

Like so many childhood items that our kids have outgrown – clothes, baby toys, stair-gates – Heather has quietly sold them on to new homes via eBay. The boys caught me handing the Coupe over to its new owner and expressed some sadness at its departure, even though they themselves hadn’t actually played with it in at least a year.

And then they went back to playing with their brand-new pedal go-kart (assembly time: two hours, swearing: lots) which, compared to its Little Tikes little brother, is a bit like having a new Ferrari after trading in a beat-up old Nissan Micra. So that cushioned the blow somewhat for them.

Lewis Hamilton, eat your heart out
Lewis Hamilton, eat your heart out

If anything, I was sadder about saying goodbye to the Cozy Coupe than the boys were. I’ve watched various items of childhood paraphernalia get passed down from one child to the next, but now that we have decided that three little monsters delightful angels is enough we are facing up to the fact that the next owner of our children’s possessions will be someone else’s child.

It’s a purely practical decision. We only have so much space in the house. And I’m not putting everything into a bottomless cash pit Big Yellow self-storage lock-up out of a sense of sentimentality. They’re just material goods, after all. But it didn’t stop me taking one last wistful look as it disappeared down our road in the back of someone else’s hatchback. It really was like watching a piece of my kids’ childhood disappearing in the rear-view mirror of life.

It’s not just me that gets sappy like this, right?

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