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Each item sold separately

Well it was bound to happen sometime. And that time was while we were away at the beach on Spring Break. A time of great disappointment. Of great dejection. One marked by the steady flow of tears which streamed down the face of my five-year-old daughter before falling without a sound upon the outdated, burnt-red carpet.

Just moments before, she’d been as happy as could be, playing with a set of Polly Pockets, till she looked to the box for a little visual direction and noticed several items depicted thereupon that she somehow didn’t have. Which was when she brought the box to her mother to find out what was up.

“Oh, honey, those aren’t part of the toy you have.”

“Why not?”

“Well,” Caroline said, pointing to a sentence on the box, “it says right here…each item sold separately.”

Boom. Meltdown.

That’s right. My precious daughter fell victim to the each item sold separately phenomenon.

We’ve come perilously close to this type of disappointment before, you know. What with the whole batteries not included debacle. But that one didn’t really affect us too bad. Because I’m married to Caroline, you see. And Caroline is an organizational ninja. The entire right side of our pantry houses more batteries than you can wag a stick at. All different sizes. Even some of those circular deals that go in the kids’ fake little plastic cell phones.

So batteries not included never caught us. But each item sold separately sure did.

Kids are resilient, though, and Kirby was quickly over her disappointment. But the moment stayed with me the rest of the day. The rest of the week, even. But not because I was sad that my daughter didn’t have all the Polly Pockets accessories she wanted.

Instead because I don’t want her to suffer more serious forms of the each item sold separately phenomenon. Because, of late, I’ve seen many adults suffer from it. Friends who are only now realizing that they’re missing things they’d always assumed they had. And it’s not pretty.

For some, it’s the happiness they were certain would accompany successful careers. For others, it’s the love that no longer seems to be part of their marriage. In neither case is the remedy as simple as going to a store or ordering something online.

I wish there were a way I could safeguard Kirby — and all my children — from the adult incarnations of each item sold separately. But I can’t. All I can do is to try and raise them the best I can. With love — sometimes of the tough variety — and support. Encouragement and belief. And then hope they grow into healthy, well-adjusted, self-confident adults. Ones who honor the little voice inside of them above all the other voices they’ll hear. Ones who have the courage and self conviction to live their own lives — not the lives they think their peers, society, or even their family want them to live.

But even then there are no guarantees. Life throws you curveballs and it’s just the way it goes. Exactly why my fingers are crossed that all of my children’s each item sold separately are of the Polly Pockets variety.

Because those really aren’t that big of a deal. They’ll just make a man think, is all.

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