Toys- Then and Now

As a former child, mother of three, and now a grandma of one and counting, I feel qualified to discuss toys. Now that I am in the business of entertaining a two year old, I have been reflecting about the past and attempting to locate some of the winners from yesteryear.

While getting down and playing with all of you was fun, I will argue that there are times when independent play is necessary and educational. It fosters independence for the child and sanity for the mother. The most important requirement is that the toy must not cause a big mess, so that eliminates glitter, finger paint, or toys with too many teeny tiny pieces which can be lost, swallowed, or flushed down the toilet.

I admit that as a child, I loved to finger paint. I enjoyed the joy of digging my fingers into the squishy paint and then swirling it around on a clean, white piece of paper—a marriage of textures and a blend of colors. I am fairly confident that this form of artwork never crossed the threshold of 516 Cornelia Street. Grandma was too smart for the inevitable disaster that this would bring into a house of five children. I was not as wise.

Now I have a very sweet and loving grandson, but I wouldn’t trust him in a New York minute with finger paint. I will graciously defer to his mother or other grandma to introduce Bryce to this form of creativity. I have learned from my motherhood history not to make the mistake of allowing that or glitter into my house. (Sand Art was another “no no” that I naively permitted in our home.)

I was thrilled when I went to the local, amazing children’s museum in town, Edventure, and discovered a Mr. Potato Head exhibit. Talk about a walk down memory lane! Bryce loved sticking a nose in an arm hole or eye where the mouth should be. The only problem–a happy problem–was that the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head table was so popular that it was difficult to find a seat.

Let me return to my observations of toys. You all loved your dolls, Legos, puzzles, and play doh. Bryce loves his trains, and I noticed that Jamie had a Mickey Mouse train set. I looked in your baby books and learned that Colorforms were popular playthings at that time as they were for me, so today, when I went on my quest for coloring books, I decide to inquire about them. First, I need to discuss the coloring book problem in our country.

Much to my surprise, they were not easy to locate unless you are an adult. I noticed that on my first toy outing, but I did not realize the magnitude of this problem until I turned on the morning news and learned that adult coloring is the new rage—a means of relaxation and a fun form of nostalgia. Okay, I get it, but this should not replace child-themed coloring books for toddlers. Absolutely not! Are the coloring book manufacturers absolutely crazy! This is a sin! They clearly do not have a mother on their board of directors. (I could go on but I won’t.)

When I asked the very young salesgirls at the toystore if they had Colorforms, I was met with blank stares. I preceeded to describe them and insisted that they still exist. Naturally, doubting the obviously very old customers that Dad and I appeared to be, they had to go on the internet to verify this. I was right. Duh!

Colorforms are very thin, vinyl shapes, which can be positioned, and repositioned, over and over and over on a shiny laminated board. They are sort of like stickers, and they foster great imaginative play. They were created in 1951, which makes them dinosaurs in today’s market. Casey had Beauty and the Beast Colorforms, and Jamie had Sesame Street Colorforms. Kelly, I am not sure if you had them, but as the oldest sister, you do not get a break on not remembering them. You were eight when Casey got them so you most certainly played with them. These will be part of your son’s life—when I can find them.

In the meantime, I am now going to see if I can find a set of metal Slinkys and some Silly Putty. What is this world coming to??

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