Seems like only yesterday our family crouched in the crawl space beneath the stairs, anticipating the bedlam that was prophesied to accompany the arrival of Y2K. Yet, five years later, here we still are. Time sure flies.
When I woke up to the fact that it was indeed 2005, I came to two important conclusions--my kids are growing up, and I´m getting older. Neither of these facts makes my spider sense exactly tingle. Upon reaching this epiphany, I decided it´s time to turn this space over to someone younger whose children care about Barbies and aren´t dressing like one; whose kids are peddling a Kiddie Coup, not driving a 1992 Caddie; whose offspring say "Momma" instead of prefacing every sentence with the word "dude." But before departing for the ice flow, I have two things to say to toy manufacturers.
Gosh, are you lucky!
What incredible jobs you have. The essence of your vocation is bringing joy to children. You´re right up there with the Ice Cream Man, the Nestlé´s Quick Rabbit, and Santa Claus. "Toy Fair" is an important business meeting you must attend.
Now tell me that doesn´t sound like a job made up by a five-year-old? It´s like "Chocolate Candy Bar Tryer-Outer," except you grew up, and the job turned out to actually exist.
I´m not naive. I realize behind the colorful characters and logos hide serious businesses with profit-making intentions. I know you´re not all Willy Wonka.
But I also know that behind the spreadsheets and power ties, there beat the hearts of former kids. It´s to you that I direct these remarks.
For those who´ve been given much, much will be expected.
As you go forth and populate store shelves with every buzzing, bell-ringing, light-up toy you can create, don´t forget what it´s like to be a kid. Keep it simple.
Think about it. How many parents report that after spending $2000 on their child´s Christmas toys, the kid spent the entire day playing with the box it came in? There´s a reason for that. Kids love using their imaginations.
Simplicity shouldn´t go out of style just because the microchip came into being. Through the years, my kid´s favorite toys did not come with a 62-page instruction manual; require six D-cell batteries; or contain contact numbers for the National Guard when it looked like the toy might overthrow humanity and the troops needed to be called in to restore order.
No matter how awe-inspiring technology becomes or how expansive the evolution of robotics and electronics, please don´t forget the simple things. Just because you can, doesn´t mean you should.
Someday, I´m going to be toy-shopping for my grandchildren. I want them to play with dolls that don´t talk, walk, or wet themselves; to make their own "vroom-vroom" noises when they race toy cars; to pretend they´re a dancer or an astronaut without a computer doing all the imagining for them.
Thoughts of the future shouldn´t drive us cowering into corners, afraid of what tomorrow might bring.
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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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