Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Than Meets the Eye

I have fond memories of toys from my youth. I remember playing for hours with my Barbie dolls, in conjunction with the much more realistic-figured Jem dolls. I loved my doll whose hair grew when her hand moved toward a butterfly perched on her crimped blonde hair (crimped! the coolest!) and then shortened when her other hand was cranked, with the gears audible through her plastic head.

This love of toys that were cool when I was in elementary school is in my mind because the new generation of wee folk are appropriating my toys as their own. When I was babysitting this weekend, I got a little mad that the baby was in possession of a Strawberry Shortcake book.

"Strawberry Shortcake was popular when I was a kid. That's mine."

"Oh Amy. That's the baby's book," the eldest said.

"No, I mean, I had that when I was a kid. Why are they coming back with it now? Why can't you have your own trendy toys?"

As if to spite me, the baby toddled up with her sister's Care Bear.

Believe me, if it's a choice between those horrendous Bratz dolls that set feminism back twenty years and the kids stealing my youth wholesale, I'd much rather them have all the Care Bears their allowances can buy. But I'm territorial about the things that were so important to me as a kid. Maybe it's selfishness, but I saved all my trendy '80s toys to share with my kids some day. I figured it would be like my Mom did with me. She had a small box of toys from when she was a kid-- wind-up toys, whoopee cushions, all these things that seemed archaic to me-- that she'd let me play with only when she was around. She'd tell me little stories about them while I happily watched the kangaroo flip himself over. I don't want a corporation in charge of the memories I pass along to my kids, even if a corporation gave them to me in the first place.

The Globe today had an article about Transformers coming back into the mainstream. I loved Transformers. I had one Transformer that I could barely assemble back into it's car formation, but I had a blast with it. Now it's back with a new movie, new toys, new computer-animation. I want my kids to experience Transformers like I did-- with old-school animation. Why must everything be repackaged every twenty years? I think that's why I'm so opposed to leggings-- everybody who wears them looks like they're overgrown eight-year-olds to me because that's who I remember wearing them in 1989. (And I never imagined that I'd be of a childbearing age and still find people wearing those atrocities in daylight and not just on their way to '80s night at a club.)

I guess it's kind of silly, but I want my childhood to remain behind me until I want to revisit it. I want kids of the Aughts to have their own toys to cherish and alternatively be humiliated by in twenty years. I want the kids I babysit to have their own childhood to remember, not mine.

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