Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top Ten Toys That Aren’t Really Toys

After reading yet another post commenting on the National (American) Museum of Play inducting “The Stick” into its National Toy Hall of Fame it got me thinking of how and why. My first thought; is the economic crisis getting that desperate? If so it’s going to be a crappy Christmas for the unfortunate children south of our border. Or maybe it’s just that the American Industrial Machine is just finally grinding to a halt. Either way, isn’t it kind of sad that you’re Toy Hall of Fame includes things that aren’t toys?

I know, it inspires creativity and imagination and requires the child to use his own brain but c’mon; it’s not a toy. At the most it is a part of a toy, or the basis for a toy ... but not a toy in itself. By itself; you got to admit; is pretty lame. This inspired me to create my top ten list of Toys That Aren’t Really Toys but Were a Lot of Fun Anyway.

10. Pots and pans. Wasn’t this the basis for everybody’s first set of drums? I don’t think we have any in our house that don’t have nicks and dings in them.

9. Ice Cubes. Somebody falling asleep for a nap in the afternoon was beautiful in my household. An ice cube positioned just at the top of the person’s pillow melts slow enough that by the time it slides down to the person, melts and wakes him up you can be long gone; giggling all the way. And who didn’t ever put ice down someone’s shirt or pants?

8. The rock. Hey, why not? It is the basis for a lot of other great things. Give a kid a rock and who knows where his imagination will lead. From breaking windows to pelting other kids; the combinations are limitless. Match The Rock with The Stick and you have anything from a crude game of stick ball or a combination of long range and short range weapons. We all know the saying, “It’s all fun ‘till somebody gets hurt”. No need for clocks, timers or referees ... when the other side starts crying, time for lunch.

7. Rubber bands. So cheap and yet so versatile; the rubber band did so many things from powering balsa wood airplanes, to firing paperclips at people’s butts in the hallway. Lacking some materials? No problem, just fire the whole rubber band.

6. Snowballs. If you’re putting together a list of stuff we used as toys that in itself was not a toy, how can you leave out snowballs? Ever wonder how many of us openly aspire to a non-violent society while our childhood games and toys seemed to always have something to do with hitting or throwing or launching projectiles at each other?

5. Bugs. Spider fights were fun. For those of you who I lost on this one, when you put two spiders together they generally fight and spin the looser into a webby ball. What fun it was searching through the backyard and empty fields for that special spider that could beat everybody else’s. And catching grasshoppers was something I enjoyed so much as a kid. I tried to catch some this summer for my boys and all I succeeded in doing was getting my pants dirty and bruising my knees.

4. Rotten Fruit. I’m sure this didn’t make it into everybody’s list but growing up in the Okanagan Valley we had fruit trees in the backyard and when you have access to all that fruit, you generally got sick of eating it all the time. Every fall there would be some nice and juicy fallen fruit in the backyard to throw at each other. Not as painful as a rock but can get really gross and sticky. What fun it was.

3. Little brothers. Now I know that we weren’t all blessed with little brothers; but mine was lots of fun. I’m sure we all have stories of things we’ve done and had things done to us. I could fill a novel with my own anecdotes so I’ll stick with one. In our old house growing up, the upstairs hallway was narrow enough that you could put one leg on each side and climb up to the top. Fun, but even more fun was getting the brother to try it while you pulled a leg out watching him fall. The trick was to not get a pile of little brother falling on top of you.

2. Keys. What babies didn’t have a plastic ring of toy keys? When babies are crying and we don’t have anything handy what do we do? We shake our keys in front of them. It’s probably a good reason why I have so many in my key ring; some kind of psychological attachment. Next time you’re boss leaves you with an asinine project or request that makes you just want to break down and cry, try jingling your keys in front of you. Maybe it’ll calm you down. I bet you couldn’t do it now without chuckling.

1. The Finger. C’mon admit it. Wasn’t this a lot of fun at the right age? Give someone the finger out the back seat of dad’s car. Didn’t it give you the chuckles knowing that the other guys couldn’t get you? Didn’t you get the giggles when a teacher would point with his middle finger? Especially when it got aimed at a friend you knew would share in the joke right away.

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