Sunday Scribblings: Toys

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?

for more Sunday Scribblings, go here

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11 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings: Toys

  1. Nice prompt back to us of Toys. I like the way you linked our preference as children to our present.
    For me it was dolls, things I could make or bugs and tadpoles etc. Now it is kids, clay and nature.

  2. I used to play with small bottles and pretend I’m a pharmacist, making potions and all that. I also seem to remember a big, red, shiny car. It’s interesting to think about it.

  3. Your post beautifully expresses (and confirms!) the feeling I have about the toys we choose and the people we become. I wonder how many other people launched their musical careers from toy pianos? That sure was a favorite of mine. So glad to see the quote from Wordsworth here.

  4. I never liked dolls, although I had a set of china animals given to me by my (much) older sister, which I adored. My favorite manufactured toy was Lite Brite, and in my first career, I was a lighting designer (no surprise).

  5. I remember spending hours on the Spirograph – is that what it was called? Making beautiful designs. But I don’t do anything like that these days. I must be the exception to your theory.

  6. I read Anne’s post as well, and it made me wonder what I played with. I don’t even know if I had a clear preference to anything. Some dolls, puzzles, books, drawing chalk on the street, …. I definately did not have any cooking toys and I still don’t cook much :p. I still read books. But can’t say it predicted anything clearly.

  7. Whenever I read your posts, and I always do, I marvel at how you include us in your conversations, your thoughts.

    I didn’t like dolls much either, and while I grew up to be a cook, that oven didn’t do it for me either (I expected so much more).

    Would ice skates count as a toy? They were the thing I loved.

  8. My favorite toys were actually games. The Lie Detector Game. Clue. Monopoly. That passion remains (now I’m very into Scrabble and Rick is doing his best to teach me backgammon!) Oh, Barbie had her charms for a bit, as did the three-year-old doll whose hair I cut, quite certain it would grow back. But books and games were my thing. And drawing materials. Still are!

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