I get this feeling whenever I read a book with a child in it playing with a toy.
See, that’s the key word. Toy. Sometimes, I don’t like the word. It brings back an aching nostalgia. Two years away from being fifty, I miss my childhood toys. My bunny, play pistols, Tonka toys, trucks and cars, rocket ships, puzzles, games. Okay, I gave my toy cars away as a Christmas present one year to my niece. I don’t regret doing so, just, sometimes I miss them.
I miss playing like a child. I regret the broken toys because I am sad they broke. I didn’t understand their worth. I understand today the worth of those old toys. The Lincoln Logs, the pinball machine, the drum set, even something as simple as a baseball and glove. Playing catch with dad. Going up to the football field with him to shoot off the model rockets. Putting puzzles together with mom. Playing board games and making up skits with my sister.
I see a toy today and I think that some kid will enjoy this…for a little while. The old idea is true, that kids get a new toy, play with it for awhile, then get bored and forget it. It ends up dusty and ignored at the bottom of a box. It’s the same with any toy that comes out of a vending machine, a cereal box, or given away with fast food meals.
I love my nieces and it may sound strange, but I don’t like shopping for Christmas presents for them. I know they are happy with the gifts, but I don’t like to buy toys. The kind of toys I mentioned above, that get forgotten. I don’t even like going into the toy store anymore. It’s too depressing. I can’t stand to pass a mom and child walk through the toy store with the kid gawking and wanting everything he/she sees. It’s too depressing. To hear a child whine and cry because he/she is refused that one cool looking toy is too heartbreaking. I just want to explain to the kid, “Don’t you understand?” Sigh!
I don’t know. Maybe that’s what you do. You buy things knowing they’ll be left someplace, forgotten, not played with after a period of times. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I cherish the very few times I was able to spend with the older nieces playing with them and their toys. Stickers and games and the entire wardrobe of Barbie accessories. (Sorry, but the doll makers really need to make those damn shoes so they stay on Barbie’s feet.) Doing an art project with Rebecca and having to apologize for my clumsiness with scissors. Putting a puzzle together with Jessica.
Maybe I’m the only one to feel this way. I don’t want my nieces to grow up and not know what their childhood was worth. I’m not saying I regret mine or wish it were different. I wish, however, that I knew the value of it at the time so that I could have enjoyed it that much more because of that knowledge. It’s why I sometimes want to go back, to be a child again. To draw with crayons or shoot imaginary bad guys coming down the stairs. To race cars around the room. To play with my old toys and not to forget or discard them.
I think I’ll stop now or else I may get tears on my keyboard. My heart aches enough as it is.