The end of a professional era

Picture of empty bookshelves

PG: Sad imagery

I never saw Toy Story but I understand that in the movie the toys speak to one another. So I wasn’t surprised when I started hearing banter from my basement office, where I kept a wide collection of toys for child clients who visited. I overheard the toys whining: “We’re bored.”

Normally, I view people as responsible for their own boredom. If I’m bored, it’s my job to find something to unbore me. But this was different: I was the reason for the toys’ restlessness. For three years, they’d had no children to play with.

When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I stopped working with children. It was awful abandoning all my clients without warning. I figured, rightly or wrongly, that were I to become incapacitated again, the adults would be fine but the children might struggle more. So now, when former clients call, I see the adults but I refer children to colleagues.

But first I explain my current health situation, saying something like: “Yes, Ms. Client, just so you know, I could drop dead anytime. Still want to come in?” I know, I know, anyone could keel over at any moment; I just believe my chances of doing so are higher. At least the adults who come in are duly warned.

After three years of not seeing children, three years of the toys’ escalating boredom, and no marked improvements in my dusting, I decided to relocate my toys. Some went to other therapists’ playrooms, some will become Christmas gifts for impoverished Mexican children (thanks Double Ps!), but my toy shelves were not quite empty yet.

There was still the toy to end all toys, the dollhouse. I’d coveted that particular dollhouse for years, so I bought it as much for myself as for my visiting clients. Everyone who came through my office–kids and adults, boys and girls–loved that dollhouse.

In the end, our friend, P., came over with her just-shy-of-two-year-old daughter, and home they traipsed with a good haul, including the beloved dollhouse. I was comforted knowing P.’s daughter was at the perfect age to enjoy the long-neglected toys.

When someone is planning a suicide, or knows she’s dying of illness or old age, sometimes she’ll distribute her prized possessions among her loved ones. Rest assured I have no plans to die in the near future; I just thought the toys deserved some kids. Still, giving the toys away–especially my dollhouse–marked the end of a professional era in my life.

Yes, of course tears were shed. Did you even have to ask?

I couldn’t part with everything, or at least not yet. For now, I’ve kept my life-sized stuffed Grover and my collection of dog-focussed picture books. When I’m ready, I’ll find the right home for my favourite book, Walter the Farting Dog. In the meantime, P. told me I’m welcome for a playdate anytime. I may just take her up on that.


8 thoughts on “The end of a professional era

  1. Annie: Your toy distribution will give some kids a lot of joy – and I believe somewhere, somehow that will be payed forward, maybe to you, maybe to others – even though it made you sad in that moment.


  2. I can tell you that the dollhouse is very much loved! It is currently occupied by a hippo, rhino and kangaroo, but they seem to coexist with the little people, so no need for an eviction notice just yet. It was recently relocated to K’s new playroom, so it’s ready for a play date any time!


    • Dear Patti: I’m so glad to hear that not only is the dollhouse being occupied by many species now, that it has found a new home in K’s new playroom. I knew it would go to a place where it was well loved and used. I will have to take you up on the play date sometime soon, assuming K. Is willing to share. Love, Annie


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