…Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When ev’ry thing old is new again
Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Put it in backward when forward fails
But leave Greta Garbo alone
Be a movie star on your own…
What a lovely song…from my favourite movie – All That Jazz
But to get to the point, don’t you think that there’s just so much for our kids to learn from old things? And by old things I mean, my mom’s toys, clothes, perhaps even food – when she was a kid.
Take toys. What’s with all the noisy, battery-fed colourful plastics that our kids get overdosed with on every single festive occasion? Toys today get bigger, more colourful and noisier with every kid I pop. When I go to a toy store I get a headache. It’s a Cirque de Freak where even clowns will feel disorientated.
But when it comes to kids and all these elaborate, modern toys, I notice one thing. The noisier the toy is, the less time my kids spend with it (does that happen with your kids?). But, when it comes to my kitchen utensils or a cardboard box – the browner it is, the better – kids can play for hours. Toy researchers must be childless, colour-blind, deaf misanthropes who think that mince meat looking machine of a toy with orange and red and green plastic flowers sticking out of its base is awesome in all its noisy, colourful, multi-lingual glory. Well, it’s not. We have one of those and, I tell you, it’s a big pile of plastic puke to my kids.
On the one hand, these elaborate, modern toys spoil kids and mash their brains because kids learn to expect everything else to move, sing, “do something” by the push of a button. Like that kid of an acquaintance of mine who got wooden blocks with the alphabet on them for a present (guess from who). He looked at them and blurted out “that doesn’t do anything” and shoved the blocks aside.
On the other hand, some parents expect miracles from these elaborate, modern toys – your kid won’t learn to read Shakespeare from a singing, plastic caterpillar.
My husband and I wanted to buy a bike for our son. We thought about it well. The choices out there were overwhelming – colours, accessories, things “they do”. I wondered, are we buying a bicycle or a house? I said, no, forget about the musical ones, the flashy ones, and the plastic ones. Our son isn’t going to live in it or party on it. Our son will ride it. And we discovered Radio Flyer. Sturdy, metal, classic (old!), and our son is just wildly in love with it. Everything old is new again!
And this is what throws me in bewilderment: how can I teach my kids to appreciate the new objects and understand their meanings and use (and this way, with everything else later in life)? Will they expect that everything will get done by itself? That everything will sing, dance, and speak different languages at the push of a colourful button? I don’t want to reject the elaborate, modern toys completely. Their fun cannot be renounced. But I also want to introduce the old – the old wooden blocks – because everything is in them that my kids could learn, without sound effects and other “stuff”. The simple wooden blocks arouse their motor and mental skills. My kids start piling the blocks over one another, build things and create their own imaginary world. They get immersed in it. What’s more, they are the ones who begin to add the sounds, the languages, and the colours to those blocks. Not the other way round.