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Friday, March 25, 2011

"Toy"

My niece tries to teach me things about playing. She tucks stuffed animals into my bed and instructs me to hold them when sleeping. She encourages me to talk to them and listen to what they say. I'm sure she thinks I have a mental deficiency requiring remedial therapy. She may be right. I think my dog Penny understands toys better than I do.

There didn't seem much point to playing with inanimate objects to me when I was a child since it seemed like I was provided with a seemingly never-ending supply of younger brothers. Why diaper a doll when the baby needs changed? And what's fun about that smelly mess? It was much more satisfying housebreaking those boys, but that activity didn't seem to be represented in the toy store. Besides, I rapidly came to the decision that babies aren't that much fun to play with since all they really do is lay around or cry, and plastic dolls are even less fun than that. At least babies start walking and talking and getting more interesting eventually.

I did play cards at Grandma's, played chess with Dad, and did science projects with my uncle. I used my brother's Tonka truck to make city constructions in the sand box while contemplating a career in architecture. I learned how to shoot arrows and a rifle, and learned the finer points of boxing. I played volleyball, badminton, croquet, and tag.

Looking back on my approved play activities, it seems like everything was designed to instruct, fight, or develop athleticism. Nothing was quite for fun. I just found fun in whatever I was doing. Well, maybe pelting Dad with snowballs, but snow came free instead of from the toy store. No, come to think of it, Dad wanted to teach proper defense and offense strategies which would theoretically be useful in the future. He was especially pleased with surprise attacks.

My most real toys might've been my crayons?

I certainly knew about toys when I was little. I lived near a very wealthy area, and there were the "haves" and the "have nots", and it was pretty clear which side of things I was on. The rich kids had everything a toy store could supply. I envied them for a while, especially for the metal pedal cars they drove around their perfect lawns, but you can only pedal so much before it starts getting boring. Why don't we bake cookies or climb a tree or something?

I often think kids are too spoiled these days. They have too much plastic junk made in China, and they don't really appreciate much of it. I see it on the tree lawns on trash day and want to scream about recycling, but I repeatedly give in to my niece's requests for stuffed animals at garage sales. I guess that's recycling, right? Maybe I'm teaching her a valuable life lesson because I'm thrifty? Okay, cheap, but I'll spring 25 cents for a plush something when it makes her so happy. I wonder what they talk about when she tucks them into bed?

37 comments:

  1. Yes! Garage sales are definitely recycling. People love to dig. I tried to sell my art at a garage sale once. Bad move.

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  2. I love what you did with the bike. A bike was something I was never allowed to have. I'm not sure why. Because I'm a girl? My brothers had bikes. Cool bmx bike like the ones from ET. I do love bikes though. they are cool.

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  3. The best toys I had were the ones I made on my father's workbench with scraps of wood and popsicle sticks. They looked ugly until they got painted up. When I was older I went to garage sales and such but after a while everything that nobody wanted anymore looked more and more like landfill. Then again, those were the times I forgot to bring my niece...

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  4. I think your niece is on to something.
    The bike is great by the way.

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  5. Great bike Linda, I am afraid I too was rather a "have not" when it came to expensive toys..I never owned a bike until I was married! But my older brother and I had the best time making up games in our make believe world as kids. I think it's brothers that make us unreliant on the man made stuff, I would not have swopped my childhood for one rich in toys!Your neice sounds a sweetie, nurture her! Have a great weekend,
    Jane x

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  6. Very clever idea and wonderful illustration Linda. Great story. The 25 cent plush toy probably talks about Aunt Linda and how wise she is :o)

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  7. Thanks everybody! What's this with girls not allowed to have bikes?! End oppression now! And yes, my niece is a sweetie and I do treasure her :)

    @Sharon, I know a guy who has a "garage sale" a few times through the summer, but he doesn't actually have much "garage" at the sale. He mostly tries to sell his pottery. He's very chatty, and I think he uses it as a way to make contacts.

    @Rand, I got some popsicle sticks a couple months ago and find I can't throw them away because they must contain an art project! Just have no idea what it is yet.

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  8. awww...this is totally sweet. :D

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  9. Love the type/tricycle combo, very clever! And I couldn't agree more that too many toys kills creativity. I loved my (few) dolls when little, though, & a big part of the fun was making things for them. But even more fun was making things for my little sister's dolls, she appreciated them so much! One year my dad & I teamed up to make & furnish a doll house for her, & it was a wonderful experience.

    As to your comment on my blog, NO WAY am I giving up real paintbrushes. Just experimenting-- curious, y'know! Even the best digital paint programs will never ever replace the real thing, but they do have their advantages.

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  10. Linda you write: 'I often think kids are too spoiled these days. They have too much plastic junk made in China, and they don't really appreciate much of it'.
    I agree, but luckily not totally. I see that kids hold on handmade toys much longer than plastic 'made in China stuff'.
    Kids somehow feel the difference between keeping-them-entertained-toys and enchanting-toys.
    Paula

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  11. In my childhood I never had plastic toys (nor even wooden ones) and today, when I look back I realize that my brother, my sister and I were actually lucky because we always had to use our imagination to make our own toys. And we have so many funny stories to tell from that time... Now, I have a kid and it is really a challenge to balance the amount of toys we buy for him and how much we spend creating recycled ones. No doubt the ones we get to make are much more fun!

    Any way, great text! Very nice illustration.

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  12. That's a great tricycle! And how brilliant that it's from the height perspective of a child. I want to hop on the back of it.

    I had toys, but one of my fondest childhood memories is playing with the pieces of a clock that my father had taken apart. Ah, those cogs and wheels and needles! Heaven!

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  13. Absolutely beautiful illustration! Oh, how I miss tricycle days! :)

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  14. Heisann!

    You are so right!
    Children do not appreciate all their toys that parents and grandparents buy them. We should give them more of our time in stead, read to them, walk with them, discover the world of the nature with them.
    Nice illustration!
    I had a bike like this once... I loved it so much. It was bought in Sweden.
    http://viltogvakkert.blogspot.com/2010/08/fart-og-spenning-pa-to-hjul-i-kunsten.html

    I think my husband gave it away without my knowing after our children had used it for some years. Can I forgive him??? It is hard!

    Have a wonderful week ;:OD)

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  15. I will admit to a deep fascination with my sister's Ken doll, even though I never really cared to have his girlfriend around.

    Thanks for the comments everyone! I'll agree with Paula that kids often do seem to understand handmade toys made with love are more special. I'll also agree with Lu that no toys are good for fostering creativity in play too.

    Very cute biking picture Vilt! I suppose you have to forgive your husband, but I bet it IS hard!

    Best of luck with your computer woes Bella! I hope to see you back in action soon!

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  16. Hi Linda! We had five kids in our family, so it seemed like there were enough toys, hand me downs or new... nothing like what the kids have today. But by far, the coolest ones were the ones my dad created from recycled stuff, like the giant tire sand box, or the swing set and teeter totter made from pipes. bars and odd lumber. He also made us eat rutabagas, as per the topic of discussion in your previous post! So in trying to keep this brief, I'll just say "Great job" on both illustrated posts and keep your little niece close by your side- I'm sure she'll want to pick up on some of your artistic skills when the time comes! Have a great week! :o)

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  17. Mental deficiency requiring remedial therapy?
    My thoughts exactly :)

    This image harks back for me to those wonderous old fashioned well saturated images you would find on your toy box. It has the blue of heaven, the crispness of childhood dreams.

    Nice touch the butterfly and the whole dynamics of the composition.

    Sorry to be late. I am early for next week :)



    PS you can never have too much plastic junk made in China :)

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  18. Hey Michelle, wouldn't it be great if we found out that eating rutabagas as children made us in some way better, healthier, stronger? Something good should come out of it since we've already eaten them. I like that your dad made your yard toys from recycled things. Add my tire swing to that list of stuff plus the truck inner tubes we used as floats down the river :)

    Andrew, you're closer to China, so maybe you can't have enough plastic junk from there? Shipping it all the way around the world to Ohio just seems like a bad idea to me. Maybe around here kids should play with toys made from acorns or something?

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  19. Linda - great blog with great art...you might also enjoy our whimsy and wonder submission pool (love to have you add to the mix)...more here:

    http://dthaase-lines.blogspot.com/p/whimsical-wednesday.html

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  20. I love your description of being a kid - I grew up in the country and a lot of my playtime involved scraped knees and mud pies, and IF I played with my dolls it was to build tree houses for them with sticks and leaves. I love your picture, it's got a lovely classic feel to it!

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  21. Thanks for the invite Dan, and thanks for the follow too!

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  22. Great piece. Love the way the toy seems so tall and powerful. Gives it importance!

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  23. I just love the old fashioned look and feel to this piece. The ribbons on the end of the bars and the quiet butterfly add nice touches. Your story relates well to mine. We are definitely plugged in but there is always something new and improved on the horizon. I want the simple toys again.

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  24. Thanks everyone! I haven't had a mud pie in a long time Allison, but I did scrape my knee yesterday. Somehow it seemed more fun when I was little :(

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  25. Your work is beautiful and amazing.

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  26. Thanks, and thanks for the follow Lou!!!

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  27. Great story as always! Image, too, of course.
    Unlike you, despite having all brothers, I was doll crazy and baby crazy too. I loved my EZ-Bake oven and my nurses kit. My mother tried to change gender preferences by giving me trucks and cars like my brothers but it did not work. I remember using one very nice pick-truck as a baby carriage for small dolls. ;-)

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  28. LOL I guess it takes all types! One person's baby carriage was my skateboard :) It's fun to hear about how people played when they were kids.

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  29. Lovely illo! (I used to envy the kids with the pedal cars, as well. Heh.)

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  30. Despite your.... deprivation? as a child, your illustration is very fun and playful!

    I think most kids are spoiled these days too. I know kids at the school where I work that get free lunch, but I know they have an xbox at home!

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  31. Thanks for the follow Laura!!

    Personally I wish kids would quit playing with their xboxes and go outside and get muddy with friends. I feel like telling them don't miss your childhood! But then, maybe I'm just old and don't know anything? :)

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  32. be careful.
    i just told Andrew, when a bike is stolen a fairy dies.

    :D

    ps: you're so very smart...

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  33. Thanks lakhsmita! I'll start clapping my hands and yelling "I believe!" LOL

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