Monday, February 27th, 2006
Selling my Childhood Memories
How many childhood toys should I keep as an adult? As a parent? For nostalgia? To share with my child?
Growing up, my parents didn’t keep or display items from their youth. I remember only one item –an Official Boy Scout Twin Signal Set. Imagine an old tat-tat-tat telegraph unit transmitting messages to another unit attached by a long wire. Each click illuminates a small bulb on both units.
I recall one Christmas Eve excitedly discussing toy reconnaissance plans with my one brother who still believed in Santa Claus. House rules held that on Christmas morning we were forbidden to leave our respective rooms until 6 a.m. What are kids to do, locked away for eternity? Our dad must have been listening because it was then that he introduced us to his toy telegraph. We ran a test wire between our rooms and successfully clicked to each other. Unfortunately, meaningful communication was not possible for two kids not schooled in Morse code. Christmas morning we chose to whisper loudly across the 5 feet separating our doorways.
Meanwhile, on my mother’s side there was nothing. No toys, save some dolls kept at my grandparent’s house. I suppose she lost hope that she could share her youth after I, her fourth son, was born.
I, on the other hand, have a large collection of Atari game cartridges, Rubik’s Cube-type puzzles and Star Wars figures. I had much more, but have slowly shed much of my junk in the past 15 years.
I say “junk” because this stuff sits in plastic storage boxes in my closet. Every few years during a spring cleaning I’ll open a box and reminisce for 20 minutes, then return the toys to cold storage.
Two toys I hope to introduce to Little Miss are Lego blocks and Lincoln Logs. Recent purchases have doubled my supply of both toys.
Sell, Sell, Sell
I will be selling / donating / freecycling most of my childhood junk in the next few weeks. I have room to keep it all, but I’ve recently come to a couple important conclusions.
#1 Memories are better than the real deal. Sure, there is a moment of excitement in seeing a favorite toy again. I vividly remember the first night we unpacked our Atari 2600 and kept my parents awake with the sound of marching Space Invaders. But when I play Atari today it is not fun or challenging. I’m only playing memories.
Plus, I’m not sure I want to introduce my daughter to video games, but that’s another story.
#2 Parenting is about experiencing childhood again. Their childhood. Not yours. I will expose my daughter to things dear to me — camping, history, writing, photography, cycling, caving, board games and such. If she enjoys them too, great! If not, and even so, she will be leading me in her interests.
My own mother is not a rocker, but when her two youngest sons listened to hard rock on car trips in the 1980s, she listened too. It grew on her until one day an attempt to change the channel would result in protests from mom.
Don’t misunderstand. Little Miss will not be a mini me and I will not be a mini Miss. We will strike a balance somewhere in the mix, but that mix will not be dependent on Chewbacca, Pitfall Harry or Ern? Rubik.
But hey, that’s just me. Drop me a line if you’re interested in buying a boatload of Atari 2600/400/800/XL/Lynx consoles and game cartridges, handheld electronic games, Rubik-type puzzles or well worn Star Wars action figures. Not dolls. Action figures.
Timley coincidence: Who’s Going to Want Grandma’s Hoard of Antique Gnomes? (Wall Street Journal)
Quote from the article:
“Old-timers thought the next generation would love their stuff the way
they did. [...] Well guess what — it’s not happening.”