The interesting thing about watching the bad family that is the Pattersons is that Lynn, despite clearly intending us to regard them as both average and sympathetic, has unintentionally given us all a reminder of the banality of evil. Despite what one might see on television or in the movies, evil geniuses aren't really part of our day-to-day lives; as Red Green once said and as any police officer will gladly tell you, bad guys tend towards being fairly stupid. Thus is it with the Pattersons; the strip from 26 December 1981 is a fairly good summary of why they're kind of moronic. What had happened is that Elly and John had decided to pack away all of the toys Mike outgrew and send them to Goodwill as well as to throw out the broken ones. You'd think that they'd run this by him in order to teach him a useful lesson about helping those in need; it could even have become a beloved tradition that he would have passed down to his own children. You'd, of course, be wrong; the Pattersons do not believe in talking to their children as if they were people owing to the screwed-up, self-defeating belief that to do so would lower them to the inferior status of 'child'. What they ended up doing is having Elly coming into his room and doing all that in the expectation that he'd either never figure it out or wouldn't miss his old stuff even if he did notice. Not only did he notice it, he learned a lesson that he shouldn't have: he cannot trust his parents to respect his privacy, he cannot talk to them and giving things to charity is a form of punishment. What really hurts to see is that his parents spent the rest of his childhood wondering why he lived in a pigsty, why he never talked to them and, most importantly, why he was such a materialistic little creep. Since they're stupid as well as smug, they can't admit to doing wrong because they're too dumb to know what right is.