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November 18, 2011 > Tinkertoys in my cupboard

Tinkertoys in my cupboard

By Daris Howard

We have Tinkertoys in our cupboard. I'm not talking about the toy cupboard. I mean that sometimes I will pull out a bowl to put cereal in and, half asleep, pour in cornflakes and milk. I take a bite and receive 2000% of the unrecommended lifetime supply of fiber and plastic polymers. I really hate Tinkertoys in my cupboard.

"Who put the tinker-toy in my cereal bowl!" I holler, as I search for my missing tooth.

I really didn't need to ask that. I knew who it was. It was a 22-month-old, little gremlin with blond hair, blue eyes, and piggy tails. She has taken a real liking to Tinkertoys.

Tinkertoys in the bowls, Tinkertoys in my bed, Tinkertoys in my shoes, and Tinkertoys stuffed in the floppy drive of my computer. If I get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water I am sure to step on a Tinkertoy and roll bruisedy, scrapity, crashity down the stairs. The last time that happened my hollering could have put any decibel meter off the scale. I woke the whole house and most of the neighbors for a half mile radius. I swore at the time I was going to take every Tinkertoy to the second hand store.

But that was then. My little, blond, blue-eyed gremlin has recently been sick. We spent three days in the hospital as her temperature soared to 106 degrees. She slept in my arms as I comforted her, keeping her from pulling on the IV that was giving her the antibiotic that was fighting the terrible infection. I would put cool cloths on her forehead. I didn't dare sleep for fear she would leave me for good. I stroked her blond hair and comforted her, wishing I could draw the sickness from her and take it upon myself.

At times exhaustion would overcome me and I would start to drift off to sleep only to wake with a start and panic as I checked on her again. The three days took their toll on me as I sat in the chair, praying, with her in my arms.

Finally her fever broke and she was able to come home. Unshaven and unkempt, I carried her from our car and tucked her gently into her crib. She still didn't want to do much and just laid there quietly holding "bankie" close. I would come home from work each day and open the cupboard hoping to see a Tinkertoy in my cereal bowl, but it wasn't there; none in my bed, none in my shoes, none in my computer.

Then one day, coming in from work, tired and hungry, I did pull out a plate and to my great joy I found a dirty, chipped, unsanitary Tinkertoy. I turned around and my little blond gremlin was poking her head around the corner. Though she was still pale, her eyes had a sparkle I hadn't seen in a long time.

I held up her Tinkertoy. She came to me and hugged my knees. She then took her Tinkertoy and toddled off, humming.

You know what? I really do like Tinkertoys in my cupboard.

(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist and playwright, is author of "Super Cowboy Rides" and can be contacted at; or visit his website at

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