Disclaimer 1: I’m going to curse in this post. Because I want to.
Disclaimer 2: This post is going to be a rant. A rant about how much better and simpler things were when I was a kid. “Bah… you’re old. Every generation thinks theirs was better than the proceeding one.” And your point is…? I used to say the same thing when I was young, but, fuck it, ranting makes me feel better so I’m going to do it. In fact I’m going to start this off by saying:
When I was a kid I didn’t get jack shit for toys. And, to be frank, I was completely happy. Now there are crazy play sets and whatchamacallits, and bilingual talking videophones. Maybe I will anger a lot of cognitive scientists with this statement, but kids don’t need complicated toys to be happy or to develop. In fact, many of my happiest memories as a child are of the silliest, simplest activities. These include, but are not limited to: walking to the park kicking chestnuts onto the road, running barefoot through the mud, and playing with boxes. I used to absolutely adore boxes (read: rocket ships, forts, 2″ thick steel-plated armour). A kid’s imagination is a beautiful thing. By overstimulating a child’s senses at a young age with flashy electronic gadgetry and bright colours, you limit the use this wonderful imagination.
I managed to dig up this photo from when I was 2 (and 1/2) years old. What am I playing with? A sunflower for fuck’s sake. No rattlers, teething toys, square blocks with round holes (I actually made the blocks fit years later- teaching me to use force when in doubt), laptops, walkie talkies, or any of that fancy shit. I was able to appreciate the beauty in something so simple as a bloody sunflower seed. Can you not see the look of rapture on my face? Am I not happy? Pure bliss!
Had I been exposed to the fancy electronic toys of today, chances are that I would not have taken to the time to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of such a seemingly mundane things as a sunflower. Call me stupid, but I think appreciation of nature and the beauty in simplicity has made me a better person. Actually.
Another thing that gets my goat is the belief that somehow more expensive toys are “better” for kids. This stems from the very American over-protective attitudes of parents. Somehow conglomerate-subsidiary toy companies have convinced parents to pay exorbitant amounts for “kid-friendly” toys that are supposed to prevent choking, head trauma, tripping, and general owies.
My first toy? An alarm clock. No, not a “toy” alarm clock. An old-school wind up alarm clock that ceased working so my parents gave it to me when I was around three (3) years old so I could take it apart and inspect it or try to fix it. Small pieces someone could choke on? Hells yeah! Unsupervised play time? You betcha! This is probably because I’m not a parent, but I tend to be in favour of natural selection. Maybe it’s because I was clearly a product of natural selection (ha! joking!), but to some extent I agree with George Carlin (RIP) when he said, “The kid who eats too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own.”
Okay – I like that quote mostly for comedic reasons, but I stand by it.
Kids are growing up fast nowadays. Somehow this has come to be seen as a good thing. Why this is the case is beyond me. Without a doubt the happiest of times I can remember are during the period of my life when I thought that girls were yucky and vagina was a bad word (I still kind of do, for the record). I was curious about the taste worms (bitter-meaty), and something so simple as seagulls flying backwards, caught in the wind could keep my attention for hours. Ice was an amazing thing to slide on, even after you face planted and left with a welt the size of a golf ball under your eye . Rain was wet but splashing around was well worth the gentle scolding afterwards. Mud was squishy and fun to touch. The life of adults simply did not interest me. There was too much to explore.
But now, kids seem to be thrust into the world of adulthood far too quickly. When you’re a kid the wold of grown-ups seems magical and great but, once there, you realize it’s actually pretty shitty; it’s a thoroughly depressing and difficult place.
I will cut this rant short, but there is definitely a lesson here. Well there’s more than one; that’s the nature of a rant.
- Keep it simple with the kids. It doesn’t take much to make them happy.
- Allow imaginations to flourish. Don’t overstimulate the senses!
- Adulthood sucks. Be a kid for as long as possible.
In conclusion, this is why I still have the maturity of a twelve year old child. And you know what? I like it!