You are never too old to play
A few days ago, Adam had the day off and Aimee was in preschool, so we spent the day exploring our new town. We ended up in this tucked back warehouse filled with vintage finds. Adam fell instantly in love with the huge selection of vintage printing press letters-less so infatuated with the price.
We were wondering around, when all of a sudden, we both stopped and stared at the same thing: A “vintage” Fisher Price Farm.We realized it was the same model we both had as kids. Mine at my grandparent’s house, and his at his Aunt Sophie’s. The model was actually a little older than the one that came out when we were growing up in the 80s. I think the model we both had was late seventies, early eighties at the latest. We just stood there in the store an talked. We touched all the pieces admiring how the cow and dog looked exactly as we remembered them. We laughed about how something we played with was “vintage” now. We stayed there for several minutes with the enthusiasm of a children examining a new toy, and the comfort of someone who has run into an old friend. Despite being only a year apart, Adam and I hardly had the same toys. It was fun to talk about the exact same one. There was something bonding about it.
Our vintage toy find made me instantly think of a dear friend of ours.. The first time I went over to our friend’s house, his living room was covered in early eighties action figures and toys. I held back a giggle. I thought it seemed odd for a grown man to collect toys. I never really understood the point of it. I used to love to collect rocks, and hoarded stickers as a child, but, as an adult, there is really nothing I collect- so I didn’t really have a way to relate.
But, as our friend began to explain to me the reason behind collecting the toys, I found it beautiful. He explained that you can bond with someone over a toy. You can be sitting in a room with someone that you don’t really know, you look up and see these toys and you can all of a sudden start talking about a specific toy. Maybe you both had the exact same one, maybe they didn’t have that model, but had a similar toy. Or maybe, they didn’t have any of the same type of toys, but your toys sparked a memory for them of their own. Either way, instantly you are no longer strangers. There becomes a moment of commonality, an almost universality of experience.There is a bonding in that moment that is based on something at once simple and emotional. Our toys are tied to very specific experiences and, often times, specific emotions.
I ended up spending a lot of time asking my friend about the toys he had growing up, and I shared with him the regret I had about not keeping many things from my childhood, especially certain toys. We talked about the delight that comes across your face when you stumble onto something that you once had. It ended up being so much more of an emotional experience for me than I thought. I went into his home skeptical of something I didn’t understand, and left, feeling very understood.
I had a penguin when I was ac child, that I loved more than any other animal. I have a few pictures with him and have even considered posting them, asking, “have you seen this penguin?” He is one of the ones I wish I hadn’t given away. I can’t even explain the attachment I have to him. Obviously, at some point I didn’t feel attached to him, since I gave him away. Perhaps it is not the penguin, as much as it is the time frame in my life in which I had the penguin, that I feel a loss for. Our friend let me talk about that penguin, about Puppy Surprise and Purrtenders and the toys I missed. The Fisher Price Farm, wasn’t even one I thought I missed, until I saw it at that warehouse staring at Adam and I, and it did exactly what our friend had said, it bonded us on that moment. Even though we weren’t raised together, or even in the same state- there was this piece of childhood we shared.
Adam and I can now be found in thrift stores and rummage sales digging to the very bottom of boxes to find old action figures and then sending pictures of them to our friend. We always ask him to tell us if the action figure we dug up is “a good find.” They aren’t even the toys we grew up with necessarily, but the idea that we could find a toy from our friend’s childhood, is just as exciting as finding one from our own.
Dear Readers: What toys did you love the most growing up? Did you keep any toys from childhood? Have you passed any down to another generation? Do you regret giving away toys from your childhood? If you could find one toy that you used to have what would it be? And, did you or someone you loved have a Fisher Price Farm? What model? I hope this blog posts brings with it fond memories of your childhood, and, if it doesn’t bring fond memories- go create some new ones- bring out your inner child- let them go vintage shopping for that one toy you always wanted but never got to have- maybe now you can have it!
Remember: you are never too old to play.