While combing the Internet for inspiration, I found this picture. For those of you who are NOT at least 35 – 40 years old; this is a Fisher-Price town. Back in the day, this toy was EVERYWHERE. As I ponder this primary-colored wonder, I find myself thinking of the differences with children’s’ toys made in the 1970s – or as they say, “in the day.” I don’t remember the same level of mass-marketing media blitzing that included tying toys, movies, multi-vitamins, costumes, restaurant promotions, et al. Also, when it came to dropping hints for Christmas toys, everything seemed to hinge around the Sears-Roebuck catalog back then. This telephone book-sized would bring the latest parade of goodies that young ones would dog-ear pages, in hopes our parents would see what we wanted. All of this seems so long ago.
I remember playing with my own Fisher-Price town. There would always be one particular toy person, vehicle or feature that I would be drawn to; which would be challenging to acquire with siblings. Once the townspeople and their possessions were divided, we would each take on our roles in the city. Plastic envelopes would get delivered. Imaginary fires would be put out. Bad guys would pay their dues, even if just to give one a chance to open and close the cool, plastic cell door mechanism. Life, as captured by those in the naptime set, can be pretty simple.
Fast-forward 40 some years, this all seems so much more alien. The buying process seems to be so much more amped up. Some things never change. There is always the latest toy craze; adding to the chances of being trampled or punch, which adds an exciting, if not dangerous, aspect to the typically boring shopping process. I guess I can see more of an appeal with on-line shopping.
Anyway, parenting adds the dimension of also means having to wrestle with things such as whether or not something is age-appropriate, as well as contemplation of buying a product to assess conflicts with some internal moral issue. Foreign countries also do not afford the same protection of consumers, as lead, arsenic and other heavy metals can find their way in the toy-making process, too. Parents also struggle with wanting to pass along the same level of generosity with the gifts, but can feel badgered/manipulated/guilted into spending beyond their means. I suppose being in charge of dispensing reality for the children can make one weary enough to become bitter. Perhaps, bitter enough to color their children’s worlds with less optimism and more unveiled anger with having to manage such feelings.
I just hope that I can hold the right balance of optimism and reality as a parent. I guess the real test will be when I become a grandparent in the, hopefully, distant future. As I don’t have plaid polyester pants and own an ear-hair trimmer, I think I may be alright for the moment.