Jason Davis: Christmas excitement growing for daddy, too

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 11:59 PM

I’ve discovered something interesting this year while walking down department store toy aisles looking for the perfect gift for my son, Rogan.

Apparently, underneath my decidely middle-aged surface, I’m a 5-year-old boy at heart.

If it hadn’t been for the ridiculous crowds, I could have spent all of last Saturday at the east Knoxville Toys-R-Us.

Walking up and down the aisles looking at the vast selection of action figures, race cars and super-hero playsets, I wished I could revert to those carefree days of youth when the biggest decision was which toy collection to play with.

I’d almost completely forgotten how fun toys could be until my only child started growing up.

Now 4 1/2 years old, he’s started requesting things I can identify with — Legos, firemen toys and, especially, G.I. Joes.

Sometime earlier this year I introduced him to G.I. Joe. Yes, that blatantly violent, yet patriotic, 1980s cartoon series that pits good versus evil.

My wife, coming from a more non-violent school of thought than I was raised, wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.

I can understand why. There’s shooting, fighting and tons of explosions.

But I began watching G.I. Joe at about the same age my son is today, and I — to date — have never shot, punched or blown up anyone. And the Joe team taught me some real values.

Well, maybe not.

But it was awesome. I loved it, and Rogan is loving it too.

So far he doesn’t have any proper G.I. Joe toys. He’s only got a generic military playset or two my sister bought him when he visited her this summer. But he enjoys them and has expressed interest in getting some more.

I sold all of my G.I. Joes a few years back. I was cashing in on my well-worn collection to fund the purchase of some camera gadget or computer item, no doubt. It’s too bad. It would have been fun to see him playing with my old toys.

But it also gives us a future opporunity should his newfound love of G.I. Joe stick.

Standing in the store Saturday, I caught myself daydreaming about father-and-son excursions to yard sales, flea markets and toy shops, trying to hunt down rare items from my childhood for us to enjoy together. I could almost imagine the painstaking hours of “setting up” the battles with him, moments before we battled them out, beating back the Cobra force and forcing Cobra Commander’s trademark, “Retreat!” scream. What fun it would be.

But soon I began to realize the modern slate of toys was vastly advanced compared to my old Joes. After all, toys have advanced quite a bit in the last 30 years.

We might have to settle on the new line of G.I. Joe-themed Kre-O sets, which are similar to Legos. There was also a series of modernized G.I. Joe figures started by Hasbro for the 25th anniversary of the figures I played with in the 80s. They have potential, but don’t come cheap. Especially when you consider how rough a young child would play with them.

Still, there may be a few Yo-Joes from Ho-Ho in the very near future.

There’s also a real chance daddy will be just as excited as Rogan by what Santa brings.