In My Day Naughtiness Was Harshly Penalized

When I was 5 years old I got a toy shooting gallery for Christmas. It was a contraption with a line of metal balls and a bright blue gun with a magnet in it; you’d lift up the balls and fire them at different targets. (I’m pretty sure this was it; I vividly remember that gun.) I played with it for a night and then the next day I did something “bad”—I’ve asked around, and no one remembers quite what, because it was FOREVER AGO—and my parents took it away to punish me. They kept it around on the top of the fridge for about a week or so, where it taunted me with its inaccessibility (“Look at me! Up here! Don’t you wish you could play with me RIGHT NOW?”) and then it was gone, never to return, its final destination as much of a mystery as the original offense that was the cause of its removal from my possession. To this day I have never received a gift that has brought me as much joy as that crappy piece of plastic did for those few brief hours when it was mine. So when I see a story about how today’s parents confirm “that their kids will get the same number of new toys even if they misbehave in the weeks leading up to Christmas,” I can only weep that I was born too soon. Also, I have to hand it to my own parents; no matter how much I cried and cajoled, they held firm in their insistence that I needed to learn a lesson about the consequences of my actions. You’d think I’d be a better person today, but it turns out I was never any good and some things don’t stick. At least I didn’t develop a gun fetish, I guess.