A lot of people my age look for ways to relive their adolescence. Not me. I want to be a big baby. The toys for infants nowadays are that cool. When I was a kid in the 60´s, the most thrilling thing going was the bouncy chair, a spring-loaded infant seat that BOUNCED when baby kicked. Woohoo! Apparently, I had the DEE-LUXE model. A photo of me plopped in that wild ride reveals my chair boasted three striped wooden beads floating on a u-shaped wire attached to the front tray. Yeehaw! No wonder my generation embraced the concept of the pet rock. Anything more stimulating would have driven us insane! When I visited my great nephew the other day, I found myself overcome with jealously. Little five-month-old Matthew was gleefully perched in the epicenter of his Fisher Price Step & Play Piano, a miniature version of "Astronaut Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey." The sliding swivel chair gave Matthew access to every feature. While he executed a Fred Astaire tap dance across the piano key floor, his chubby fists drummed a syncopated rhythm on the top keyboard. There were boingy, noisy rattles to shake; a mirror in which to admire his chubby cheeks and budding new teeth; and colorful plastic shapes to manipulate and on which he could gnaw. Matthew blew bubbles, squealed, bounced and drooled, experiencing the baby equivalent of Mardi Gras. In the meantime, I coveted. I envied. I asked him to move over and let me have a turn, but he wasn´t having any of that.
I went home feeling gypped by the lack of imagination that was the hallmark of my generation. Then my husband reminded me of the Busy Box. The Busy Box! What baby of the 60´s didn´t have one of those things tethered to the bars of their crib? It was the Magic Rattle Pooh of our generation, without the batteries, giggles, or humming, but with a little bit of an edge to it. Its barbershop striped pole could hypnotize you if you weren´t careful to look away occasionally. Its spring-loaded door veiled a tempting mirror, but could snap your finger off or painfully pinch the tip of your nose if you got too close. Its dinging bell could drive your mother nuts, especially if you rang it continuously during her soaps. Its telephone rotary dial lulled you into thinking you could call anyone, anywhere, anytime. (Nights and weekends too!) Okay, so it wasn´t so provocative that we passed out from over stimulation, but it was still a good time. Ultimately, the memory of the Busy Box illustrates that not all my childhood toys were bland trifles crudely fashioned from bits of rock and sticks. Still, I wouldn´t mind having a crack at that Step & Play Piano. Maybe I´ll set up a play date for Matthew and me next week. If I do it just right, I can schedule it over naptime. Then when he´s not looking…
She endures eternal Minnesota winters by writing freelance articles, essays and features. Her two kids (a rich source of poignant, humorous, and most happily, free material) are the inspiration for much of her work focusing on the topics of kids, parenting, families, individuality and creativity.
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