I could spend hours with my toys. There were all these games, always titled with the same word repeated twice, like ‘ghar ghar’, ship ship, adventure adventure. And then there were my barbies. None of my friends had as many dolls as I did – there were the princesses, the regular ones, the male versions called Kens and I was in love with the Pizza Hut set I had.
I had quite a collection of mostly blond, very well-endowed barbies. But it didn’t happen overnight. Every summer my favorite aunt in America would take me to Toys ‘R Us and without fail, I would levitate towards the pinkest section and pick out a mermaid or a princess or a kitchen set for the mermaid/princess. Every birthday she would send me a doll.
I would also spend time reading books. Or skating in the terrace and singing songs. Or sprawled on the sofa, getting really bored. My time on the computer was strictly regulated (that is once computers came into our houses and lives) as was my TV watching. I credit my creative, well-rounded, optimistic personality on this relatively tech-easy childhood.
Back then, Toys ‘R Us was my paradise. I went to the super-sized store today after several years and I have to admit, it was still pretty cool. There was the awesome Lego section, the Crayola section where you could color in books or stickers or make your own stickers or bracelets… but then there were the more disturbing – and also more popular – sections. With Hannah Montana dolls and other teen celebrities turned into plastic. The frightening Bratz: over-sexualized and Goth as usual. And other toys and games that require less creativity, more batteries. That look cuter but don’t really teach you much and can choke you way too easy (Squinkies, anyone?).
What’s worse is that none of these old or new toys can be to kids what my toys were to me. They don’t have the attention spans for long-term relations. Laptops, cell phones, portable DVD players and all other bad-for-your-eye devices with screens that come in a million sizes… these are the things that matter now. And it breaks my heart, it really does. Especially when I see a seven-year-old girl picking up a Justin Bieber doll.
Sigh. I guess it might not be such a bad thing that kids have short attention spans now. So what if your little girl doesn’t believe her toys will come to life when she falls asleep at night – I mean, look at the four-year-old boy who can purchase new games on his mom’s cell phone! Woot.