The Perils of Joining the Toy Library

Toy libraries are the most outrageous institutions known to family-kind. My psychiatrist tells me most arguments between married couples are about sex and money.

Not true.

Most arguments between married couples are about toys borrowed from the toy library.

“You what? You let them play with those toys unsupervised? I told you, watch them play with the toys, then pack them up straight away and put them in the attic. How many times do we have to go through this?”, she often asks.

“Jeepers, they’re just toys. And we don’t even have an attic.”

“Well, you’re not the one who has to front up to Barbara and explain where the screwdriver from the Bob the Builder constructo-set has gone.”

“Honey, we don’t need the toy library. I dunno if you’ve heard of these places before … they’re called two-dollar shops. Transact, then you never have to see them again. I’ll take you to one one day. We can even get some kitchen utensils and a ceramic clock shaped as a cat while we’re there.”

Fact: 9 out of 10 marriages fail because of the toy library.

You’ve had a hard day at work, you get home, you want to relax, then Whammo, hits you in the face: missing toy library piece. An air-raid siren blares.

“Lemme get this straight: you want me to climb under the house, hack into the ducted heating, past the redbacks, and look for a yellow duplo block? Are you out of your mind?”

Or, “Honey, I don’t know how the kids lost an entire wheelbarrow, they just did ... I don’t know where it’s gone. Maybe they sold it on Ebay. I don’t know what these kids are capable of!”

Joining a toy library is like asking your friend to borrow twenty dollars, then she hands it to you all in five-cent pieces, then you have to to pay her back with those very same five-cent pieces two weeks later. And if you don’t, you're charged $2 for every five-cents not returned.

I’m not dealing with a library here. I’m dealing with the mob.

It’s not even the money though. It’s the looks they give you.

“Sorry Barbara, I lost another piece,” you say sheepishly.

Barbara is very sad and disappointed. She is close to tears.

“I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. That set of plastic bugs had been together for three weeks. That’s the longest any toy set has ever stayed together without a piece going missing. I just don’t know what to say. What have you got to say for yourself?”

“Ummm…. maybe you should go to the two dollar shop?”

And you have to do duty there seventeen times per term: sit there cleaning toys, always with the most super-enthusiastic toy library supporter.

“Hey Barbara, can you believe some parents? Look at this; someone’s snuck in a Captain America with the dinosaurs, thinking we wouldn’t notice.

Can you believe some parents, Elvin?”

“No, I-I-I- can’t,” I sputter, trying to hide my guilty face.

And what’s with their opening hours? My toy library is only open 7:43 to 7:47pm every third winter solstice. Why the hell are they never open when you get there?

If you aren’t a member of a toy library, trust me: join one. You will experience every single human emotion – good and bad – during your membership. Even if you haven’t got kids, join a toy library, put yourself out of your comfort zone and you will know you’re alive.

Like when you finally find that missing piece of a toy after nine hours of searching. You shake out that box of shoes and there he is: Olaf the Snowman staring back at you with his big carrot nose and cheeky grin.

That’s the absolute best that marriage can ever be. You are so happy at that point in time.

For a moment there, you’re glad Olaf went missing in the first place. All the agony of searching for him, giving up on him, thinking he was lost forever …

All of that dissolves into shear, unadulterated joy when you lock eyes with that pesky little snowman.

He’s come back to you. He’s finally come back.

You shed tears of joy and relief.

Then, you remember …

“Hey, didn’t you tell me you looked in the box of shoes eight and a half hours ago? ...

Well, obviously you didn’t look hard enough ...

What, was it a proper look, or a you-look?”

You pause; fuming, scornful: “You’re just like your mother.”

No good can come from the toy library.