When I was younger, I was offered a lot of different toys. I was given Barbies I utterly destroyed, stuffed animals that I hoarded, puzzles, play cars, Kinex-type things, Legos, the works. You know what though? I barely remember playing with any of it. My dad was annoyed that I didn’t really want to build things with the map and pieces already laid out for me, and likely took it as a sign that I was a silly, unintelligent kid. I never liked following the directions because it felt like tedium instead of play. Anything that came with an end goal excitedly insert in or on the box bored the heck out of me.
Instead, I remember a scarf I used to tie under my arms and the pillows that would end up all over the floor and the warrior princess I would pretend to be fighting indescribable monsters and losing indescribable friends along the way. I remember going around with my friends and collecting random weeds and rocks and creating potions and casting spells all over the neighborhood. Always wanting to go “hiking” (walking around the few hundred yards of hill and tree around our houses) with the boys in my neighborhood.
Or else I would read.
I remember the day I realized I had finished the entirety of the portions of the Babysitters Club and the Boxcar Children series the children’s section of the Rockaway Township Public Library had. That was a highly frustrating day. I still remember the first book I read was about goldfish, the first “novel” (outside of our reading books in school. I still have some of those because I had fairly stick hands for books not from the library back then. But also, I loved those huge orange books) I read was a Magic Treehouse book, my first biography was about J.K. Rowling, and when I read about lacrosse for a book report in fifth grade, it kind of put me off of sports in general forever.
Not to say that I had a super organic childhood. I had those little leg-powered cars (a tiny, VW Beetle-shaped thing that was mostly yellow with red doors) and several scooters, including a motor-powered one. I never got into bikes because I was too afraid of falling. I also loved being on the computer. I played and mastered JumpStart games over and over, and I could play KidPix and other creative kid-style Photoshop predecessors for hours. My relationship with The Sims started when I was in middle school. Also, fucking Neopets, man.
Anyway, I think the author has a great point. Toys and gadgets are awesome, and amazingly engineered these days, but they’re not necessary to creating a whole, happy person. Sometimes these things backfire. I think both my brother and I grew up kind of shunning meaningless gadgets, even though we’d get them every time my dad came back from a computer conference. Even now, we have several gaming consoles that we really only use when people come over. It kind of blows my mind how much I resonate with this article. thanks mom and dad 😀