Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Games People Play.

At the coffee morning yesterday, friend W and I sat drinking our coffee and chatting about things.   Usually there are a lot of people there and we tend to circulate, but at least seven regulars were away so folk were a bit thin on the ground.

We were watching two little brothers, aged about two and three.  The village hall is used for Mother and Toddler Groups during the week and there is a goodly stock of very smart toys - large plastic lorries, diggers, trains etc., little bikes with pedals on the wheels, sets of bricks - all kinds of things.  They must come to the Mother and Toddler group because they knew exactly where to go to get access to the toys and in no time at all they had the big plastic boxes dragged out and all the toys laid out on the floor.   They completely emptied the box before deciding which one to choose - then scooted round the hall playing with it before coming back and choosing a different one.

We began to reminisce about when we were children and how few toys we had then.   Not that we missed them - all our contemporaries were the same - maybe two presents at Christmas and maybe one at birthday.   But my goodness me, did we enjoy our pressies.

Friend W made me laugh when telling me about her presents and the favourite games she played with her brother and sister.  They usually had a stock of marbles, with at least one large one.   They also had a set of wooden building blocks.   They would lay the blocks out on the table and put a small marble at each block - these were the pupils; then they would sit the large marble at a large block at the front of the 'class' and then they could play schools!

Another favourite game was to 'borrow' their Dad's date stamp and ink pad and play Libraries, using their books - so that all their books ended up with a series of dates stamped in the front.

The only present I remember was an orange coloured Tansad doll's pram one Christmas - I do remember pushing it up and down the main street on Christmas morning, hoping that someone would ask to see my doll. (I don't think anyone else was up and about at that time).

By the time my son came along children had far more presents and I seem to remember he had a great pile every year.   But I do also remember when he was very small - around two maybe - that he would take his presents out of their wrappers/boxes and then play with those rather than the presents. And there was a long time when his favourite toys were the baking tins I kept in the bottom oven of the Rayburn cooker!.

But the point I wanted to make about all these things (apart from my pram, which I remember I rapidly went off and returned to my pencil and paper) is that they were inventive.

Are today's toys as inventive?   I am not suggesting they are not - I don't know enough about them to make a judgement - but perhaps someone could enlighten me.  Do today's electronic things (which are largely a mystery to me) encourage that inventive spirit?

On a closing note, my mother, who was a child at the turn of the 19th century and who came from a poor family, used to speak of how her mother would make each of the girls (she was one of eight - three boys and five girls) a new doll from a clothes peg, dressed in scraps of fabric she had kept all year.   The dolls would have dresses, knickers and little hats and they would just about last up to the next Christmas.   The boys would have little wooden boats made by their father.   And that was it apart from an orange and a brazil nut.

14 comments:

Jinksy said...

I too think toys are LESS rather than MORE these days. Lack of funds kept my kids to old traditions, like it or not, and the same was true of my brother and I. One can but hope with the latest generation...

Cloudia said...

Sweet reminiscence. Thank you.


ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Dave King said...

One heart-gladdening Christmas morning I recall one of my grandsons inundated with the latest electronic gadgets, ignored them all and played for hours with the boxes they had come in!

Great write on a subject probably more important than it's usually given credit for.

Heather said...

My parents gave our son a sort of wooden Meccano set when he was small. We were quite embarrassed as he preferred the box it came in. When my father was small - he was one of seven - at Christmas the boys shared one toy and the girls another. One year Dad was almost overcome when I bought a tiny gift from each of our children for him. With our gift and my mother's for him, he said he had never had so many Christmas presents at one time.
If they are encourage/allowed, I think children still enjoy being inventive with simple things.

MorningAJ said...

I was delighted to hear a young girl reciting a rhyme while she was skipping at the museum yesterday.

We used to skip a lot, and play 'ball' up against the side of the house. It was good to see the new generation keeping up those traditions.

shadypinesqltr said...

Thanks for the memories! Christmas was always low budget at our house but we always got a sock filled with an Apple. orange and nuts. Alas my children never appreciated the same in theirs when their peers were getting small toys and sweets in their's.

When my Mum sewed on her Singer treadle, she would give us pegs and fabric scraps and we would "make " doll clothes for hours.

A couple of years ago I collected cardboard tubes, boxes, etc of all shapes and sizes, added duct tape and dumped in the middle of the floor the next time I heard my grandsons say they were bored. Two hours later they were still "building ".
Joan from dreary Michigan.

shadypinesqltr said...

Thanks for the memories! Christmas was always low budget at our house but we always got a sock filled with an Apple. orange and nuts. Alas my children never appreciated the same in theirs when their peers were getting small toys and sweets in their's.

When my Mum sewed on her Singer treadle, she would give us pegs and fabric scraps and we would "make " doll clothes for hours.

A couple of years ago I collected cardboard tubes, boxes, etc of all shapes and sizes, added duct tape and dumped in the middle of the floor the next time I heard my grandsons say they were bored. Two hours later they were still "building ".
Joan from dreary Michigan.

Joanne Noragon said...

Months ago we banned electronics for the grandchildren who live here. When they sat engrossed, engulfed, their faces convinced us their brains were leaving through their eyeballs. Millions of children who have no electronics go outside to play. These three do that, now. Actually, they're out washing cars to earn extra money.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Our christmases as a young child in Alaska were sparse - but when we moved into "town" things improved a lot (I think my dad made more money in town).

Our grandsons love electronic games - and the ones they are involved in are magically, wonderfully imaginative. One is a mining game - you have to know the types of soil that you must dig through, to achieve whatever the specific goal is - and you have to know the density of soils and rocks so you can safely build a structure on it.

Both grandsons - ages 8 and 11 - sit across a table from each other, with their laptops and plan their strategies to accomplish whatever the goal is, either playing as a team or as opponents in a race to accomplish their goal. The cutest thing is that when they do this - they speak with an English accent - which is very endearing. I'm not sure why they do that - but that is their own special addition to the game. Ben is particularly good at imitating accents.

Electronic games - while not the only thing they do - enhances eye/hand coordination. Did you know that today's pilots are mostly people who were experts at electronic video games - they have the quick reactions and clear thinking needed to obtain a goal.

Sometimes the grandsons play action video games - Batman is one of their favorites - and when they play outdoors they use their minds to plan new Batman strategies. Ben has decided he will be Batman and fly over the world - dispensing peace everywhere. Playing Batman for them is a lot like playing Cowboys and Indians that little boys and girls did when we were growing up - taken from the movies they saw on television.

There are violent video games - which I personally feel are dangerous - some of the ads I've seen are scary enough. Fortunately our grandsons don't play those kinds of games - their parents are very particular as to what they have.

Our youngest grandson - at 19 months, is learning to read from electronic games that teach him sounds and letters - it's a wonderful world of fun and learning out there, available for the taking - just use caution, as in all things.

There are also Wii games - that require you to move - tennis, golf, dancing - you have to interact with the screen to make the game work - no sitting about and just clicking a remote. It is particular fun when the grandsons dance to the songs that we loved as teenagers - crosses generations and makes bonds.

All three grandsons love a rousing time outdoors as well and never fail to find something that engages them while outdoors. A balance of electronic and physical activities.

You did ask :-)

Pondside said...

I was very happy when our son asked us not to give the boys any gifts that were electronic or battery-operated. He asked that we stick to blocks, Lego, and books - things that required imagination. It makes me sad to see parents and children all with their heads down towards electronic devices.

Em Parkinson said...

It can be obscene seeing how much children get these days. I asked for a train set every year but never got one. Always a jigsaw that I hated but once a Sasha doll which was very, very exciting. Apparently people pay hundreds of pounds for them these days! Love your Hellebore by the way.

Bovey Belle said...

I can still remember my lovely printed-tin dollshouse, which I played with for SO long. Then there were my plastic horses, which I built stables for from shoe boxes, and jumps from lolly sticks. I still have 99% of the wooden jigsaw puzzle with horses on which I bought with my pocket money when I was about 10 . . . Expectations is the word I think. We didn't expect much and were happy with what we were given.

Em - I remember hearing someone say that their neighbour had spent £700 SO FAR on Christmas presents for their 5 year old son . . .

Jeri Landers said...

I don't think toys are as inventive, they are more about "entertainment". Children don't seem to need the use of their imagination, the way we did. I am so thankful to have grown up when I did. We girls played "jacks" all the time, hopscotch, skipped rope and made things with clay. We were very active outside, always playing tag or baseball or roller skating down the sidewalk!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting to read JoAnn's comments - there is obviously imagination there so perhaps one has to choose exactly what to buy. Thanks for contributing.