Friday, December 2, 2011


I have to admit that I, Fanny Collier, was practicing the yearly spending ritual that we call Christmas shopping when I ran across a retro toy shop.  They were selling toys that were popular when my son was a child and even some toys from when I was little.
There were jacks, jump ropes, Tonka trucks, and even a Lionel train set.  It all made me long for the “good old days”.  Now that’s something I seldom do because I know that time marches on and those days were old but not often as good as we remember.
Seeing those toys got me thinking about a conversation I had with my grandson when he was younger.  I was telling him about games that I played growing up.  There were games like jump rope and kick the can and hand-clapping games like Mary Mac.  As I was recalling how much fun I used to have, my grandson shot down my moment of nostalgia by asking me if we were too poor to afford toys.   Was he serious?  Taking a deep breath, I explained that we did have some toys but we didn’t need a bunch of commercial toys because we played games that were fun and imaginative.   When he continued to stare at me blankly, I just told him to go outside and play.
Then it hit me! Do parents make their kids go outside to play anymore?  There were not many days, especially during the summer, that our parents didn’t send us outside.  They really didn’t care rather we wanted to go out; we were not allowed to sit in the house all day unless we were doing some chore.  The fact that we kids were given jobs to do around the house was enough to inspire going outside to play.
When you think about it, games haven’t really changed that much.  I used to complain that the games today are more violent, but in reality the ones that children played in the past, like cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians were violent as well.  The only difference was that the blood and gore was implied and not visible like they are in today’s video games.  Back then everyone wanted to be the good guys.
Of course much tamer games like hopscotch, jacks, tag, hide-and-seek, etc.  may be considered by young people today  as “lame” or “stupid”,  but such games provided exercise and fun, fresh air and sunshine, to say nothing of developing coordination. 
Even if the games of the past are lame, stupid or just old-fashioned, they’re better for our kids than video games.  At best the latter develops good thumb coordination and at worst, they teach stealing and killing skills.  Either way the child is being programmed instead of learning to think.
As you shop for toys this Christmas, you can spend a fortune for games for your kids that promote cave-man-like qualities, but I’d like to suggest that you kick your kids outdoors to play—especially if it’s cold and snowing.  I’ll bet they’ll use their imaginations then.  So muse on that!

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