Once you become a parent, I think it’s natural for you to want to give your kids the same fun experiences you had as a child. Whether that means carrying on a family tradition around the holidays or just simply having “game night” once a week, it’s a special moment when you can share something together.
I recently read that because more grandparents are involved in caring for their grandchildren, the market for board games has increased. In addition, the size and design of the board games has been tailored to an older demographic to mimic what their generation would have used. There are some classic games like Barrel of Monkeys, Candy Land or Scrabble that are timeless. Then again, there are other toys which lose their meaning as technology and times change. For instance, the toy phone.
My daughter has about four toy cell phones. They all have realistic rings or chiming sounds to notify her of an incoming call or email. In one, Dora talks to her. In another, Elmo sings. So you can imagine her confusion when I pulled out a toy rotary telephone at Grandma’s that had been mine in the mid- 1970s. It was made of painted wood and had googley eyes that moved when you pulled the string. It was an original Fisher-Price Chatty Phone. When I asked her what it was, she answered, “a block.” It was square, heavy and wooden. Not a bad guess. She just had no concept of what a rotary—dare I say old-fashioned—telephone looked like because she’d never seen one. Now, she loves playing with her new vintage toy.
Similar to the introduction of the rotary telephone went the first experience with a chalk board. My sister and I had a school desk that we would write on with chalk and stick magnetic alphabet letters on it to spell words. These days, white boards have replaced green chalk boards. Computers have replaced magnetic letters.
Over the weekend, I decided it would be fun to have the kids put on aprons and bake Halloween cookies. I wanted the fun but not the mess so I bought the Pillsbury kind that were pre-mixed and pre-cut. They even already came with the designs of the pumpkins and black cats on them! Perfect. Some would argue that making the cookie dough, mixing in the chocolate chips and decorating the baked cookies is all part of the fun and bonding experience. Not me. My daughter quite likely will never know what it’s like to mix anything because I hate the clean up process that follows. So we all strapped on our aprons, pre-heated the oven and simply picked up the little formed circles of raw cookie and placed them on the cookie sheet. The prep took all of five minutes. And, by the second dozen both kids had lost interest and were watching TV in the family room. In this case, I have to say I am in favor of the advancements made in the baking industry. Busy mothers like me can fulfill their domestic desire without much effort of stress. Am I cheating my children of a wonderful baking experience that I had when I was young? Maybe. But, we’ve got plenty of time to enjoy that when she’s old enough to help clean up.
I got to thinking. There are lots of things that I considered an everyday necessity growing up which my kids will know as vintage. They will never own a video camcorder or VCR. They won’t know what it’s like to hear a ticking clock in the house. Music doesn’t even come in a tangible format anymore. There are going to be plenty of things as they grow that I will need to explain. They will laugh, because it will be funny that “people actually used to do things…like how?” I remember my mom explaining those sorts of things to me and I chuckled at eight-track tapes because I couldn’t imagine a world without records.
Thankfully, our family has a grandma that lives close to our kids. They see her as much as they do my husband and I. She has held on to some of those aging household items over the years. Through that, I hope they learn what it’s like to play traditional board games, learn about the past and gain a greater appreciation for what they have today.
As Bob Dylan said, “Times They Are a-Changin.” Whether it’s toys, games, phones, or food, there are some things that will always be classic and some that get improved upon with time.