“Did any of the Presidents not like toys?”

It’s nearing the end of the year, so I’m in a clear-out-the-old-backlog-of-questions sort of mood.

Back when The Eight-Year-Old was only five, we spent a lovely afternoon building a village for her toy dinosaurs out of Lincoln logs. After carefully installing a sunlight in the roof of her sauropod stable, The (then) Five-Year-Old asked, “Mommyo, did any of the Presidents not like toys?”

Mommyo: “I’m sure they all played with toys as kids.”

The (then) Five-Year-Old: “No. I’m talking about grown-ups. Grown-up Presidents who played with toys.”

Mommyo: “Well, President Obama plays fetch with his dog.”

The (then) Five-Year-Old: “Dog toys don’t count, Mommyo. I’m talking about real toys.”

Correction: According to this White House photo, Obama actually plays football with Bo. But I'm sure The (then) Eight-Year-Old wouldn't think that counted either. (Photo: Pete Souza/The White House)

Correction: According to this White House photo, Obama actually plays football with Bo. But I’m sure The (then) Five-Year-Old wouldn’t think that counted either. (Photo: Pete Souza/The White House)

Mommyo: “Hmm. Well, most parents play with their kids at some point, and that often involves toys. Can we assume that Presidents with kids played with toys?”

The (then) Five-Year-Old, graciously: “Yes.”

Mommyo: “Well, President Obama’s kids are still young enough to play with toys. I don’t think President Bush’s were when he was in office, though.”

The (then) Five-Year-Old: “I’m ok with the toy-playing happening anytime after he was an adult.”

Mommyo: “So not just while he was President?”

The (then) Five-Year-Old: “That’s right.”

Mommyo: “So can we assume that any President who had kids played with kid toys as an adult?”

The (then) Five-Year-Old: “Yep.”

At last! A question I knew how to Google!

I dutifully recorded the question (and the rather lengthy conversation that refined it in my Caterpickles Future Questions Log), and then spent the next three years industriously not asking Google anything about it.

Whew. That was hard work.

But I’m glad I put in, because while I was busy ignoring The (then) Five-Year-Old’s question, Mona Chalabi at FiveThirtyEightPolitics was knee-deep into the requisite genealogical research. According to Chalabi, all but one of the U.S. Presidents had children and/or grandchildren by the time they were sworn into office. James K. Polk, who served from 1845-1849, was the only childless President.

Which by The (then) Five-Year-Old’s criteria meant that President Polk was the only U.S. President who didn’t like toys as an adult.

I dutifully reported that fact to The (now) Eight-Year-Old while taking her to school last Wednesday morning.

Naturally she didn’t remember asking the question. But that’s ok. I’m used to that.

When she was all caught up, The Eight-Year-Old wrote off my conclusion deftly: “Just because he didn’t have kids doesn’t mean anything, Mommyo. He might have liked to play games with his friends. I mean, look at Daddyo and Uncle Phil.”

Herbert Hoover playing Hoover-ball in 1931. Hoover-ball was a hybrid of tennis, volleyball, and medicine ball that Hoover's doctor invented to keep him in shape. (Photo: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library)

And, apparently, Herbert Hoover. Here he is playing Hoover-ball in 1931 with his buddies. Hoover-ball was a hybrid of tennis, volleyball, and medicine ball that President Hoover’s doctor invented to keep him in shape. (Photo: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library)

Mommyo, doubtfully: “I don’t know, The Eight-Year-Old. Everything I’ve read implies that President Polk was a pretty severe sort of person. Not really the type to play games. He sounds like a more work, less play type.”

The Eight-Year-Old, determinedly: “But he still might have liked to play card games. See if he did that.”

Mommyo, consulting her iPhone: “Huh. It says here that his wife, Sarah Polk, was a devout Presbyterian and banned dancing, card playing, and alcohol from the White House.”

The Eight-Year-Old, decidedly: “That’s so mean! Do you think he played card games outside of the White House?”

Mommyo: “He would have had to, wouldn’t he? Still, I think it’s pretty clear that if there had been a President who didn’t like to…”

The Eight-Year-Old, interruptingly: “You mean ‘wasn’t allowed to.’ We still don’t know whether he liked to or not.”

Mommyo, more accurately: “Right. If there had been a President who didn’t play with toys, it would have been James Polk.”

The Eight-Year-Old, sadly: “Yeah, poor guy.”

Related Links: 

Advertisements

About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
This entry was posted in Games, Health and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Did any of the Presidents not like toys?”

  1. pkhpkh says:

    But he did inspire a rather fun song by They Might Be Giants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9SvJMZs5Rs

    Like

  2. Pingback: “Why is tennis scoring so weird?” | CATERPICKLES

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s