Yes, Some of Us Survived Without Hi-Tech Toys

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SCAN0930Since hi-tech gadgets have become commonplace and affordable, children expect to see the newest ones under the Christmas tree. Parents can’t keep up with the pace of technology. Your child’s old iPod doesn’t have the capability of playing some of the most wanted apps, he complains to you, and it’s too old to update its operating system. If you don’t buy him the latest version, he will be socially maladjusted, he tearfully laments. You tell him it is only two years old. “Exactly!” he says. “It’s two years old already.”

When my children were growing up, we never had to think about what we would buy them for Christmas. We bought the latest Fisher Price toy, starting with the farm set (remember how the barn mooed when you opened its doors?) and working our way up to the Sesame Street Village and the castle. The little people that came with the sets didn’t talk or move unless the children spoke for them or moved them. They actually had to use their imaginations.

As our children outgrew the Fisher Price toys, they moved on to more sophisticated ones. My daughter did like her Barbies (okay, not a good example of sophistication), but books were more important to her. The boys, on the other hand, liked their Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. I’ll never forget when I walked into my youngest son’s room one afternoon and watched him playing with his figurines. They were arranged in a very orderly manner that looked vaguely familiar. I listened for awhile until I realized he was reenacting the Iran Contra hearings. He was seven at the time. I realize I may have unusual children.

In my day we had even less to hang our imaginations on. We had dolls and Lincoln logs, skates with keys, and whiffle balls and bats. They never got old, and we never needed the newest model. What’s interesting is that our toys were not a lot different from the types of toys our parents had. That can’t be said about today’s children, and with the pace of technology, I think it’s a safe bet that their children won’t be able to say the same thing either.

I’m not making a value judgment here. After all, I’m writing this on my iPad and I wish my three-year-old iPod touch wasn’t so antiquated. I have fully embraced the technology of my grandchildren. But something tells me they wouldn’t understand the hula hoop.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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23 Responses to Yes, Some of Us Survived Without Hi-Tech Toys

  1. Robin says:

    I am happy to report that both of my granddaughters know what to do with a hula hoop (they’ve played with mine…lol!). The youngest loves Legos and the oldest acts out all kinds of scenarios with her dolls (mostly Barbies with a few oddballs thrown in). That said, they both got iPads for Christmas, something I wouldn’t know how to use (although I don’t think it would take long for me to figure it out).

  2. tuesday2 says:

    I DO remember how that barn mmmooooo’d! I miss those toys and the Weebles were always good for hours of entertaining as well.

    I have a small collection of Hula Hoops in our kindergarten classroom and the kids get such a kick out of watching their teacher ‘make it work.’

    P.S. I’d give anything to have my metal dollhouse back too… and my Mrs. Beasely (while I’m flashing back).

  3. oldereyes says:

    We have a large box of Fisher Price Adventure People that we get down when our grandkids come to visit … and the LOVE them. Part of the problem, i think, is that parents are too willing to accommodate their children’s desire for techie toys and “the latest.” For some reason, my hula hoop doesn’t work any more, by the way.

    • Coming East says:

      I think you’re right, Bud. Kids usually get what they ask for, even though they don’t know what they are missing. Sorry about your hula hoop. I will lend you mind…no, don’t thank me.

  4. Amy says:

    Now these days, parents don’t wait until Christmas to buy, kids want it now…

  5. Love the comics you found on the hula hoop. You make me want to run out and get one for grandson. However, since daughter and grandson have to board a plane back home after Christmas, it’s not to be. But I just might get one for grandma’s house…and grandma. I can see the girls 31 and 26 have a contest on Christmas morning. I’m sold again…thank you for the entertaining and frugal idea.
    Remember how you could make it roll away from you and with a certain wrist action make it come back? Then, you could plant a basketball out in the yard and try to “ring it?”

  6. I am impressed with anyone that can still hula hoop without heading to the ER! I always enjoyed catching my children making up their little stories (not at the Iran contra level) always put a smile on my face. It’s hard to imagine that type of play lasting much longer. It is so sad to see kids “playing” quietly with their heads down looking at a screen.

  7. lentomoderato says:

    Oh my goodness… From the barn that moos to the skates with keys, I played with every one of the toys you mentioned. I must have good parents! I think you’re right: technology is a powerful tool that cannot capture the innocence of simplicity of Lincoln logs. I suppose that will just have to be the blessing and cursing of this new generation.

    • Coming East says:

      I love all the technology stuff, Lento, but I’m glad that I grew up without it. I kind of wish today’s kids could experience what it’s like not to have it until they are adults. I wonder how different they would be as adults?

  8. My children (1.5 and 5 yrs) are happiest with a big pile of Lego. So far the Leappad we bought them is collecting dust.

  9. Oh Susan, what an inspiration – a hula hoop would be such a fun implement for exercising, but perhaps you’re too young to remember when they too were the latest ‘must have’ item under the Christmas tree? 🙂

  10. pattisj says:

    Love the hula hoop comic, Susan. I wish I could still make one go! I never knew what to do with Barbie, she was too far from my world. Maybe I have no imagination. Your son emulating the hearings made me smile. Interesting how you can see their career leanings at that age. I assume he’s the attorney…

    • Coming East says:

      You would assume. Patti, but he is the neurogeneticist. Go figure. I actually have a hula hoop and use it several times a week. Still love it!

      • pattisj says:

        Now that was a surprise–I picked the wrong son. Good for you and your hula hoop, that exercise would work a lot of different muscle groups. Hope you had a good trip north. Looks like you might get some snow flakes for Christmas.

      • Coming East says:

        We made good time, Patti. Only eleven hours instead of the usual twelve. Might see some white stuff Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to you both.

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