In a Twitter conversation with my son last weekend, I learned he had taken some time off from a horrendously busy and frustrating work week to drive to the mall and buy himself a new toy – an iPhone 3g. His actions recalled similar jaunts to Toys R Us, back in the day when he was a fidgety toddler, and would become whiny and restless about 4:oo in the afternoon. Some days, when I simply couldn’t bear to read the Scruffy the Tugboat one more time, or play another round of Candyland, we’d pile into the car and go shopping for a new toy. Often, something as simple as a new Hot Wheels car would do the trick, and provide him with the impetus to come home and play happily on his own until dinner.
Of course, the older he got, the more sophisticated expensive the toys became. But thinking about the kinds of toys which drew his interest, even as far back as infancy, I can see the linear development of his later interests in life. For as long as I can remember, he loved anything electronic, from the tv remote to the VCR (which he could program perfectly at age 2), or anything with wheels. So it really came as no surprise that his lifelong passions are computers and automobiles.
Reading Anne’s lovely meditation for this week’s Scribbleset me thinking about the toys I most loved, and the way they reflect my current interests. Certainly one of my earliest favorites would not surprise anyone who knows me…a tiny toy piano, which I could sit and bang away at for hours. It was that little piano (which remains in my mother’s basement to this day) that convinced my parents I might really be serious about learning to play someday, and led them to invest in a Wurlizter console for my 6th birthday.
I never cared much for dolls, particularly baby dolls, and I admit that infancy is not my favorite stage of child rearing. But I had the largest collection of stuffed animals among any of my friends. I relished buying fashionable outfits for my many Barbie dolls (and I continue to like clothes shopping for myself as well), and spent hours making up complex family dramas for Barbie, Ken, Skipper, Midge…a real potboiler of a novelist at work there.
Easily the most disappointing toy I ever owned was the Easy Bake Oven my aunt purchased for me one Christmas. I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions about my culinary proclivities.
As a child, my husband loved building models and taking things apart to see how they worked (he’s an engineer).
My friend P. often talks about her son’s passion for building things with Lego’s and Lincoln Logs (he’s now Vice President of a huge construction company). Her daughter, on the other hand, was prone to playing dress up and was known for her emotional and dramatic outbursts (she’s an actress).
“The Child is father of the Man,” wrote William Wordsworth, and so our childhood toys may be more than simple playthings, but the precursors of lifelong interests and passions.
How about you? What did you play with as a child? What vestiges of your favorite toys are part of your life today?
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