November 14, 2011

On Recreating Your Own Childhood With Your Kids

Hint: This is a pony.
Like most people who had a good childhood, I always envisioned parenthood as providing the things for my children that I remembered fondly from my early years.

Yes, there's the obvious- love.  Lots and lots of love.  Hugs.  Family game nights.  Family car trips singing goofy songs or playing B for Botticelli.  Reading stories together, going camping, singing around the campfire.  Family dinners.

But there is more than that.  There's the mundane, physical things.  There's toys.

I understand that we live in a completely different world today than we did twenty five years ago.  A quarter of a century ago, when I was my children's age, things were not what they are now.  The internet wasn't piped into everyone's house, reality television basically didn't exist, the idea of a cell phone, or of a tablet computer, or even of a totally ubiquitous home desktop- let alone the multi-laptop family... those were all sci-fi concepts that didn't have much real significance in daily life.

When I was a kid, my dad would tell people they should teach THEIR kids to type, because that would be the most important skill they would need going into adulthood.  He had no idea how right and how wrong he was.  Yes, we pretty much all know how to type, but we use those skills to dumb down our own language into the shortest number of characters possible so we can rant about Glee and whether or not people will be eating live bugs on the new Fear Factor.

And here we are.  Totally connected.  Tweeting and texting about the most insipid and culturally devoid elements of our fascinating times.

And what am I using all of this technology to do?  How am I creating the childhood I want for my children with the vast telecommunications resources at my fingertips every day?

...I'm recreating my own childhood.  Embarrassingly specifically.

Glory of the 80s
I was trying to decide what to get for my kids for Channukah.  I'm making them one of their big things, divided into lots of little bits.  (More on that another time.)  They'll get it over the whole eight days.  But it's not the "big" present.  There always needs to be a "big" present.

And they're toddlers.  "Big" isn't particularly big.

So I got to thinking... what do they like?  Well, I didn't want to get them anything TOO big.  For their birthday they got so many BIG BIG BIG things that our house still isn't close to accommodating them comfortably.  The easel, the kitchen, the mega blocks... it's a mess around here.  No, their big present needed to be something emotionally big.  Something that spoke to their interests quietly, let them sort of grow into them, and then be around for the rest of their childhood.

Tall order, no?

I started with their interests.  What do they like?  They like the toy kitchen.  Well, that's totally stocked.  They like playing with blocks.  I don't need to get them any more of those just now.  They like drawing.  I think we've already covered that for a while.  They like Wall-E.  I am not getting them a trash compactor.

Then I thought to myself... they like brushing hair.  No, they are OBSESSED with brushing hair.  I should get them something with hair they can brush.

I thought it over.  A toy that they *actually* play with, that they can do a variety of activities with, that they can carry around with them, should they desire, and that they can girly up to the nines if they so chose.  Yes, this might be the thing.  But what?

I didn't want to get them another doll.  They have plenty of dolls.  And I was never too into dolls as a kid.  What's more, I don't want to get them into a hobby this young that can take thousands of dollars in accessories.

So what?

And then I remembered my own favorite toy.  The first toy I remember actually receiving as a gift.  It was when I was almost three, most of a year older than the girls will be when they get theirs, but still.  basically the same age.  I remember it being handed to me for the first time.  It was a gift that I was getting for my mother's 30th birthday.

It was a My Little Pony.

Not a plastic My Little Pony.  It was a ten inch high, plush, purple My Little Pony with long purple hair and white flowers on her rump.  Her name was Blossom.

Dancing with my father at my wedding
I loved that pony.  My father used to sing me "Blossom" by James Taylor as a lullabye.  I remember asking for that song so many times, that song by the same name as MY favorite toy in the whole wide world.  I dragged that pony all over the place.  I hummed that song to myself in my father's study, while the dust danced in the beams of sunlight.  I danced with my father to "Blossom" at my wedding.

I talk about Blossom as though she's gone, and as an adult that's proper.  But it's not true.  She's sitting on a shelf overlooking my bed.

Yes, almost twenty five years later.  She's been through some rough times.  Some hair cuts, a few unfortunate mud related incidents.  She can hardly be described as "purple."  But I still love her.  Every once in a while, giving her a hug just makes me feel... happy.

So I thought to myself... here's a toy that I KNOW holds up to decades of abuse.  Here's a toy with long hair that can be brushed, braided, adorned with bows and ribbons.  I could give each of my children a stuffed My Little Pony and a hairbrush, and they'd be pretty much the happiest little girls in the world, right?

I sure was.

So I started doing my research.  They make big stuffed My Little Ponies.  But they have CHANGED.  They look nothing like the My Little Ponies of my childhood.  They look like anime bastardizations that long ago ceased having any genetic similarities to horses.  Their hair is short and unstyleable.  And they cost almost $40- an outrageous price for a stuffed animal you can stick under your arm.

So I did the only thing that one can do when looking for a toy that might no longer exist.  I went to ebay.

The ponies I knew and loved?  They haven't been made in about twenty four years.  But lucky lucky me, My Little Ponies are hot collectibles.  That means that every obscure My Little Pony product from the eighties is being unearthed, cleaned up with expert care, and resold.

Ebay is flush with vintage plush My Little Ponies Softies.

I had so many to chose from.  So many ponies, so many conditions, so many prices.  So many options.

The books cost extra
I settled on getting ponies that I didn't know from my own childhood.  I thought it was just a little too weird to get my girl the exact ponies that Aunt Genocide and I played with (Blossom and Bow Tie).  I instead picked out four ponies- Cherries Jubilee, Posey, Cotton Candy, and Parasol.  I figure that at least one pony is going to be vastly worse than their description, so I should have a backup.  Parasol is from the last generation of ponies- the mouth open pony.  It looks like her legs are a little different.  But I'm confident she'll do in a pinch.  And if all four ponies are perfect?  Well, I can always squirrel the extras away for a rainy day.  Or another little girl.  After all, in my experience little girls love toy horses to love and squeeze and brush and kiss and occasionally give irreparably bad haircuts to.

And even with buying twice as many ponies, AND paying for shipping, I'm still paying about $15 a pony.

So I'm recreating my most beloved childhood memories for my children.  I'm getting them my favorite childhood toy.

Of course, if they don't like the ponies it's just going to break my heart.


  1. I think that is an awesome idea! I never thought to look back at toys I loved when I was a kid. You are correct though. Things that we had just aren't the same. You have certainly inspired me to take a walk down memory lane to find that perfect gift for my kiddos.

  2. I think that's an awesome idea :) I'm sure they will love it! I was kind of a terror as a child and mostly destroyed my toys. Haha. Hopefully they will treat their ponies with care.

    I wonder what kind of toys/games will be out there when I have kids... crazy!

  3. I love that your story! Our kids want to know what it was like "in the old days" of our childhood....isn't ebay a great resource for recreating memories? My "children" are young adults and solid citizens now....but they often ask about a toy they loved as a child that I could not convince them to save and share with their kids! I have replaced many a "tossed memory" for the sake of heritage, legacy and family history. Kindred spirits think alike!:-)

  4. I love that you're bringing back the 80s for them. I just got my 3 year old a ViewMaster - a childhood favorite of mine. She was so excited. It totally made my day.


  5. Maybe they'll even tattoo and pierce their pony plushes ;)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Vote for me!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!