December 02, 2002

Action Heroes Roasting on an Open Fire...

  • Things that roll, bounce, or make noise.
  • Things thrown: darts, hoops, rings, balls of all kinds.
  • Educational 'toys' that I actually wanted: Chemistry set, microscope, telescope, binoculars.
  • Guns: rubber band guns, spud guns (anybody know what I'm talking about here?). I remember one particular shooting game where a pistol shot steel balls at moving ducks within a closed plastic arcade and recycled the ammo, over and over again. I still recall getting a blister on my trigger finger before Christmas day was over.
  • Things ridden or rolling: sleds, skates, bikes, wagons, go-carts.
  • Drawing/painting things, requested but usually ignored, lacking the basic talent for such. Etch-a-sketch (Check out these incredible drawings! And we thought blogging was an incredible time-sink! Click on the Andy Griffith Etch-a-sketch for detail.)
  • Things despised: clothes, especially pajamas and underwear; books, but less so as I got older, particularly adventure like Swiss Family Robinson. Cash money was acceptable, increasingly as I got older.
These are the things I wanted for Christmas when I was, oh, ten to fourteen. I'm curious: what did you want/get for Christmas when you were that age?

I can't help but contrast those toys from my childhood to the things kids are apparently demanding this Christmas. Baby-boomer grandparents I suppose were the intended target of advertisements shown over and over through countless commercials during the recent holiday James Bond Marathon (where I confess I was suckered in for a with Sean Connery, one with Roger Moore, and one staring some Lazenby character I positively don't remember).

Oooh. I feel a rant coming on...

And so what will little Bobby and little Becky find under their tree this year, if gramma and grampa got the not-so-subliminal message? The little kiddies will unwrap everything imaginable to feed their Playstation, X-box, and Nintendo.... the latest state-of-the-art software packages on CD that are loosely called "Games". TiddleeWinks these are not. Action heros my Aunt Gussie! Find within all manner of flamethrower-wielding omnipotent robot-warriors, evil grotesque rampaging cyborgs, sinister nimble-nubile superhuman heroines and ultra-fast crashing cars, boats, tanks, spaceships or skate boards. Each features evisceration, immolation, decapitation and more of your favorite graphics!

The real world is such a wonderful, desparate place. If they are to contribute to understanding and caring for this world they are inheriting, our children must be directed by parents, teachers and the media toward ways of playing that use their energies, imaginations and actions towards discovery of amazing, real places in ponds, in woods and in communities on this planet. Isn't our solar system and galaxy awesome enough to entertain from the darkness of a backyard telescope trained on the rings of Saturn? I'm all for fantasy and adventure, but I just have to say BAH HUMBUG to parental complicity in allowing 'toys'in their homes that contribute to children becoming yet more sedentary and plump, more passive but even less easily entertained, and increasingly less involved in the flesh-and-blood chaotic world outside their walls and themselves.

Well-developed thumbs and quick eye-hand coordination will be a scant comfort as today's children face the considerable challenges in their adult world to come. Send them outside with a ball and a hula-hoop this Christmas. We'll all be the better for it.

Posted by fred1st at December 2, 2002 04:59 AM

I probably wanted skates, dolls, and boobs... but not necessarily in that order- i was very precocious.

I did, however, ask for a hula-hoop for my birthday last week. Didn't get one though. Phooey!

Posted by: anne at December 3, 2002 12:07 AM

Probably a bike, since I left my first one out and it was stolen. Otherwise I didn't get video games until my late 20's. I somewhat share your feelings on video games for yoots, but like anything else, you can monitor your child's involvement and set limits. There was a recent news blurb that they estimate 36% of either gift givers or receivers will exchange a video game in this country. Staggering.

Thanks for the spud plug. This site has plans for three different types of spud guns, as well as ones you can buy. The site also has a 3-D layout that was interesting.

Posted by: MarcV at December 3, 2002 03:47 PM

Spud guns! I own two! Love 'em.

Posted by: Cody at December 4, 2002 11:53 AM

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