Gayby Toys

Wifesy and I were talking last night and somehow the conversation turned towards what kind of toys we had as children.

Now, Wifesy is an only child.  I have one cousin who is an only child and for the most part, only children are spoiled.  Sorry, sorry, don’t get mad at me – legions of only children – but, unless you grew up in the slums of India like that poor thing from Slumdog Millionaire, if you were/ are an only child, you had ALL of the toys the rest of us only coveted.

If you had this, I envy you. (Even if it was recalled for depositing warm plastic parts into cake bites.)

Wifesy had the Easy Bake Oven.  I longed for the Easy Bake Oven and never received it.  When I asked my mother for one, she said, “Make something in the feckin’ kitchen, we’re not paying for your baby oven.”

Such is the subtle ways of the immigrant mother.

Wifesy had one of those motorized cars that you can actually get in and drive.  She also had a feckin’ teepee.  A FECKIN’ TEEPEE!!!  I have to tell you, when you have a sibling, and have to – gasp – share things and the money is – how shall we say – STRETCHED, you start to form a jealously that can only be soothed by attending a string of happy hours in your early 20’s.  I’m not proud of it, but to this day, when I see a child in one of those cool, motorized, plastic cars…I want to knock him right out of it.  I want to tell him that the real world is not that easy.

It’s not that I was really deprived.  It’s that my parents always got us things that were slightly off, probably because they were cheaper.  When I was a teenager, I wanted a ten speed bike.  My parents got me a three speed instead.  You know, one of those, completely uncool three speeds with the super-wide seat in case you were some kind of huge, fat ass.

“Get on, phat ass. No one will tease you, surely.”

It sat in the shed out in the backyard and I never used it.  Why?  Because I would’ve been stoned to death as the only teenager riding around the neighborhood on a three speed while everyone else rode their Schwinn 12 speeds with glee.  And never mind what an a-hole I would’ve looked like trying to get up any type of hill whatsoever.  Eventually, my parents got a free 12 speed bike with their washing machine purchase.  It wasn’t the sturdiest of bikes, considering it was a freebie, but it looked cool and that’s all I cared about.  I rode it everywhere.

Now, that was all WAY back in the mid to late 1920’s when Wifesy and I grew up.  When I think about kids today, when I think about my future gayby, I wonder what kind of toys he or she will play with.  Will it all be computer games?  Will I have to learn how to disable the beeping noises on every single item that I give my child?  Will he or she grow up with any kind of imagination?  Or will these computer games turn his or her brain right into chocolate sauce before my very eyes?

I think imagination is important for everyone, but for kids, especially so.  And I think supported imagination is the most important of all.  Tell young kids a story and they take it SO literally.  I love this window of time you have where they’ll believe just about anything you say.  I nannied a kid once and the only time he was calm was when I had him hand drawing these maps.  I had him make exact replicas of the maps that were in an encyclopedia.  He was so focused, so entirely present in his project, that it was fun to watch.  It also kept him quiet and I liked him quiet because he was a hyper kid.  I wanted him to keep the map project going and not lose interest, so I made up this elaborate story about how we were going to make a book of maps and sell it.

I said, “Bobby, keep going with those maps.  They’re really good.  I think we should make a book and sell it.”

8 year old Bobby, “We’re going to sell it?!!  To who?”

I said, “At Barnes and Noble.  We’re going to sell it at Barnes and Noble.”

8 year old:  “What??!!  No one’s going to buy a book from me, an 8 year old, at Barnes and Noble and from you…you’re like in your 30’s.”

Me:  “Sure, they will.  I have an arrangement with one of the girls at the register.  She’s going to sell a few on consignment.  Do you know what consignment is?”

8 year old:  “No…”

And I could tell from his very wide eyes that I had him now.

Me:  “Consignment means no harm or foul to the retailer.  They put a quantity of our books up near the impulse buys and if one sells, we make some money, but if none sell, we get the books back.”

8 year old:  “And we can sell these like that?”

I could see the hope brewing in his eyes and I needed that hope.  That hope would keep him entertained for hours.

Me:  “Yes, we can.”

The thing I always feel bad about is not following through on that.  I left the job in the middle of the “map project” and I feel like if you make up this elaborate story for kids, you’ve got to follow through.  And I would have if I had stayed longer.  I would’ve talked to one of the girls at the NYC B & N and I would’ve thrown her some money to put on a little show of taking our ‘books’.  She would’ve done it, at least that was my plan.  But, I got a better job and left before I could make that happen.

I hope it didn’t scar Bobby too much, but it may have because it scarred me once.  I remember my mother did a similar thing.  When I was about 8, it was around the time of my father’s 40th birthday.  My mother – being a very smart woman – appealed to my 8 year old vanity.  She told me that a camera crew and a writer were coming to the house from the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens.  She told me that they were doing a shoot on our family and the house, but that I had to help her get the house ship-shape and in order.

I cleaned so hard for an 8 year old.  You have no idea.  I got on the chair and dusted the water glasses in the cabinet.  I cleaned everywhere.  I have vivid memories of doing so.  When the day came, I dressed up.  I made sure everything was in its place and I waited.  Waited for the camera crew.  They never came.  But, some people started to arrive and the house became lively.  They were friends and family invited for a surprise 40th birthday party for my dad.

Slowly, I put together that there was no Better Homes and Gardens and I was pissed.  The whole thing had been a ruse to get me to clean.  I mean, for feck sake, If mom had understood at all what it had meant to me, she should’ve told a friend to come over with a camera and LIED to me.  She should have told 8-year-old-me that Frank from next-door WAS a representative of Better Homes and Gardens.  I would’ve believed her.  I would’ve had hope.

That’s why I’m including this video.  It shows you how a kid can build a world with NOTHING.  (Sort of like us writers do…)  I saw the video on Mike’s blog originally and it made me cry.  Watch it, I promise, it will brighten your day.  My only hope is that I can nurture, feed, and follow through on my own kid’s imagination to this extent because I think it’s so important.  I think it creates a better world and better people.  Disappointment comes to us all soon enough.  But, hope, HOPE, now that’s an incredibly beautiful gift.  It’s a gift you’ll have forever.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

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Photo creds:  feature, easy bake, bike seat

72 thoughts on “Gayby Toys

  1. I was an only child for EIGHT YEARS. It’s very hard to change after EIGHT YEARS. I spent the subsequent years before college trying to be an only child again. But like a bad vase, the little bastard always survived my attempts to get rid of him.
    I did manage however to convince him for quite a while that he was a adopted. The child of the crazy bag lady that was always outside our local supermarket. AAAAaaaaaaahhhhh I can remember the pleasure now… when my mother would go out I’d say give me an A, now give me a D, and he’d start crying :D

      1. It was easy and I had anti-scientific evidence. You see, my mother has brown eyes and my father has blue eyes, but my brother has green eyes, which proves incontrovertibly that he could not be their child!!!

      2. My mom and I have brown hair. Mu sister is blond. Anti-scientific proof that she too was adopted! Lol

    1. That is amazing! I had my little brother convinced for about a year that he was adopted because he was the only one with red hair in the family. Oh yes….good ol’ days!

    2. pinky, this explains a lot. lol. ‘like a bad vase…’ hilarious line. and i think younger siblings are meant to be tormented. i certainly did it to my brother. we’re lucky he has a spine at all and doesn’t walk around like a hunchback broken by my orders… ay yay yay. but survived he has and turned out to be a pretty great guy too. xo, me

      1. and, you are all nuts. in the best sweet-mother-approved way possible. i am only disappointed that i didn’t think to tell my poor brother the same thing. he looks too much like my mother…it never would’ve worked! loool. xoxox

  2. I’m one of those only children who had most of the good stuff. Except I too did not have an Easy-Bake Oven and I wanted one DESPERATELY. But my mom thought it was silly so I didn’t have one. I also did not have Weebles–something that has scarred me for life and was one of the inspirations for my own blog.

    That being said, that video is awesome. It reminds me of how much fun I had with the box that our new refrigerator came in. All kids should be able to experience the fun of making a fort or castle–or if you’re Caine–an arcade–out of a giant box.

    1. omg! wifesy had weebles! she was trying to explain to me last night what in the feck they were because of course, i didn’t have them. i do remember the commercial tho, ‘weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down’. like me after a few martinis, but i don’t think that’s what they meant…lol! isn’t the caine video awesome? xoxo, sm

      1. The vid is awesome, and Caine seems like a very cool kid. Kudos to him.

        Check out my blog, you’ll see many Weebles pictures! I only WISH I could bounce back up again after too many martinis–instead I just fall down. Oh well. :)

  3. Wow, your mom was ruthless. I like her! Now I know how to get my kids to clean their rooms. But they’d never believe it. They know their mom well enough to realize I wouldn’t want a crew doing a photo shoot in my home.

    But it appears the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, what with poor, abandoned map kid and all…(oh, you know I’m kidding :) )

    1. she is ruthless and the best part is, she thinks it’s hilarious! still does crazy crap like that to this day. i love her for it. and i’m afraid i too inherited the ‘gene’ my would-be kids are destined to be very ‘confused’ the majority of the time. loool. xo, sm

  4. My little girl is an only child (and likely to remain so!) and I have to admit she is spoilt quite a bit (but in defense she is the first grandchild for both our families to), but I really hope she grows up with that kind of imagination! That is amazing! I welled up when he pulled up in the car and that huge crowd was there!

    1. i know right! isn’t it an awesome video? i was in tears when he pushed the little tickets through the slot of the cardboard box, i just thought it was so original and creative. i LOVED it. xo, sm

  5. Oh, God woman you tickle my funny bone! My sister had an easy bake oven and I wasn’t allowed to play with it. I finally stole the light bulb and held it hostage until she agreed to let me play with it. LOL

    That video was amazing too.

    1. ooooooooohhhhhh, i LOVE that you stole the lightbulb. that is just so hilarious. there might even be a post of some sort in that. isn’t it a cool video? i balled. seriously. xoxo, sm

  6. Great video and post that took me back. When I was about eight and my older sister was eleven, she tied me up in the garage and told me she was a secret agent who looked exactly like my sister (she, the agent had killed my sister). My favorite toy was a real Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist doll that was dressed in a suit and had one of monocles on one of its eyes and its eyes would shift around and close, along with its hinged mouth. Not sure why I wanted one (they’re creepy) but kind of glad that didn’t go anywhere. :). We had easy bake ovens as well — very cool to make tiny cakes by a lightbulb.

  7. I did have the Easy Bake Oven, but a 5-speed bike. And no, that was nowhere near cool. I’ve got three older siblings, but there’s 11.5 years between me and the closest two. So I started out with them around, but it wasn’t long before they were out of the house, and I was an “only child” of sorts. Spoiled rotten if you believe them. I don’t, by the way!

    Too much technology = bad for development, at least in my book. Start them with the simple basics first to stimulate the imagination!

    1. i agree, coloring, cardboard boxes…that imagination needs to be nurtured! so important. i always thought it would be cool to have a sibling so far apart in age because you get your parents all to yourself as a kid, but then when you’re older you still get those bro/ sis relationships…i don’t know…interesting, though! lol. xo, me

  8. oh, brig, this is great stuff. you have to write about it. that doll sounds NUTS. and i looooooveee the crazy agent-tale your sister told. it reminds me of a game my cousin and i used to play called, ‘this is what you’ve done’. the one kid would mock kill the other kid and that one would say there and play dead, then the one who did the killing would have to sob really dramatically, as dramactically as possible over the body chanting, ‘what have i done’ – when BANG the dead person would get up and scream, ‘this is what you’ve done’ and start ‘killing’ the other person all over again. we thought it was hilarious. i mean literally peeing from laughter. we must’ve watched too many telenovelas. for some reason your sister memory triggered that. so strange. xo, sm

    1. I think I will. :). Thanks, M and will let you know if you’d like to saunter over and read once I do. Glad I triggered a happy memory for you. Make-believe, oh it was so nice! Truth is stranger than fiction, isn’t it and you can’t make some of this s**t up, you know?

  9. Easy-bake oven? Bike? How very pleb of all of you! When I was little I wanted a Rolex. Then I visited Versailles and wanted that. Now I do research and wait for an opportunity to organize a coup in a small African country which I will one day name after myself.

    1. i wanted the rolex, but also the easy bake. i was high brow and kitsch all at once. an early indication of my gay male brain, gay female body, but gay male brain – i think…i mean if the trans people have diff brains…

  10. Super like it…awesome post…this video made me so happy Sweet Mom…
    truth is i too think that children need imagination and toys that arent machines like videgames or computer games… i mean sure every kid wants Playstation but sometimes i wonder if kids play Hide n Seek anymore…do they skip rope or enjoy making things from card board boxes or paper cups…?

    1. wasn’t it so sweet, little miss? i just loved it and sobbed like a child! they need to use their imaginations or we’re going to create a bunch of drones! lol. xox, me

  11. All I ever wanted was a sit-n-spin. That’s it. Never got one. One day when I went to pick up my son from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I saw a sit-n-spin in the corner. They had gotten him one. He didn’t even ask for it. He doesn’t like it. Is it wrong that I covet my son’s toy? I mean I pretended I thought it was crap, but I longed to put my oversized buttocks and start spinning until my brain hemorrhaged.

    1. oh, glory, glory. your comments are always so good. SO good. sit n’ spin indeed. i didn’t mean for you to do that, i mean i wanted one… and it is a-ok in my book to covet your son’s toys. you brought him into this world, you deserve equal time with the cool objects his cuteness bestows upon him. lol.

  12. Hi Mum, hi all :) That gorgeous video reminded me of when my daughter was that age. She’s another only and probably was spoiled for toys – especially the soft cuddly kind that her mummy loved – but what did young madame enjoy the most? Her teddies? Those horrible barbies that everyone just had to have? Her toy cars? Nope. Card board boxes that’s what. Boxes under the table as ‘caves'; boxes butted end to end as ‘tunnels'; boxes as mountains that her dinosaur figurines used to climb… Give a kid a garden, even a tiny one and some generic props and their imaginations will do the rest. Video games and DVDs are just a different kind of toy for when there’s nothing ‘better’ to play with :)

    1. i’m so with you! i’m pro videogames, but pro cardboard boxes too, you know? a kids gotta have both so the mind explores. i loved the video, made me cry. my favorite part was when he sticks the tickets through the slot when someone ‘wins’. i just thought that was so damned creative! lol. anyway, love you, ac. and good morning, for you, me thinks. ;) mum

      1. -hugs- yes, it’s just past 10:30am and I’m relaxing with a bowl of cereal after cleaning algae out of the fishpond. Btw how is the dread move going?

  13. I cannot believe she had an easy bake oven. She was obviously the cool girl in school. The only toy I really wanted that I got, was one I bought for myself. The game mall madness.

    1. totally the cool girl, meanwhile, i had knock-off jeans. everyone wants to beat the girl in lassoons instead of sassoons… or something like that. congrats on the fp, me dear. xo

  14. SM,
    I came here to laugh as usual, but I was deeply touched. There’s so much love in you… If gayby ever comes, s/he’ll be one lucky little fuck.
    Le Clown

    1. you’re so sweet, clowny and it makes mother mushy inside. wifesy always says that about me, but she may be the only one who has noticed…until your superior insight that is… ;) xo, sm

  15. I got a 10-speed bike–I think mostly so my parents could avoid driving me places–and my brother broke it soon after by treating it like a BMX dirt bike. I don’t know if this makes better or worse off than you were.

    And your parent’s selection of wide-seat cruiser bike totally made you a proto-hipster.

    1. ok, you and todd need to give me a ‘fiber rich’ pic. i’ll explain on fb or something. i want to do a profile on you two. since you’re two of my faves and i love reading your blogs, enjoying your art, and staying at your house…lol. xo, sm

  16. I didn’t have an easy bake oven!! And I had a very uncool no-speed cheap ass bike from Sears.

    I did have one of those old toys where you could heat up this nasty smelly plastic in metal molds shaped like creepy crawly bugs. The thing got so hot you could get 3rd degree burns if you accidentally brushed against it. Do you know the toy I’m talking about?

    When I’m diagnosed with lung cancer some day, I’ll know where I got it from.

  17. You know, it’s kids like Caine that make a great argument for bringing back child labour (that’s “labor” for you folks south of the border). That kid has worked harder than either of my two younger brothers, who are, coincidentally, a great argument against siblings.

  18. Your story about Bobby and your Better Homes and Gardens experience reminded me of a great family story about my older brother. When he was about four or five, my dad (who was possessed of the incredible ability to say complete crap with a straight face) told him that he needed to eat his green beans, because similar to how carrots improve your eyesight, green beans make your arms and legs grow longer. However, my dad continued on to say, “And you have to make sure you eat an equal number of the seeds and pods, otherwise your limbs will be uneven.”

    My brother did not discover the truth until junior high. This story still gets brought up at family events, and my brother’s nearly thirty.

    Thanks for the great post, as always, and for the chance to reminisce about my dad’s unbelievable ability to bullshit.

    1. i love parents that will bs their kids. seriously. i love it. i think these type of parents automatically raise non-a-holes and i think that’s very important for society. lol. and your poor brother. he must’ve been very ‘regular’. lol. xo, sm

  19. So tell me, did you ever end up preparing your family a hot meal?

    I think that many writers were deprived of something as a child: love, family, friends, money, attention. I think you’re right in that we had to use our imaginations to build a world, and now we do it in blog form.

    You have such squishy insides :)

    1. total squishy insides. ssshhhhhh! don’t tell anyone. you mean from the deveining episode? yes, a lovely and poop-free bbq was had by all. ;) now tell us all more about that nerd-fest you went to. xo, sm

      1. oh, i’m tarded. i did make some meals, but no one was happy about the ex-lax i kept throwing in. i thought they would understand – by the baby oven and get your insides back, but they never did. too much?

  20. THANK YOU for bringing this beautiful video to our attention. I’m crying. I’m elated. I am also hormonal, but that’s beside my point. What a great and inspiration film. Why aren’t my kids home right now so I can squeeze the pulp out of them???

    1. i know, right, winn? it’s a total feel-good vid and a feel-good-kid-story and we need more of those in the word to combat all the abductions and bullshit. seriously. i love that kid. just love him. wifesy and i are going to try and find him in east la. but, i heard on the interwebs he was gifted a real pinball machine now, so he might turn into some kind of mini-warren buffet nightmare. lool. xo, sm

  21. Don’t have me, but I had an easy bake oven. Mind you, after my idiot brothers ate most of the cake mixes I received with the oven, my parents refused to replace them. I think I got to bake 3 or 4 cakes.

    I didn’t have one of those cars. Those WERE for the spoiled. And I can so relate to wanting to knock the kid out of the car… :-)

      1. you are allowed any and all typos. after all, i’m not a grammar d*ck and you especially deserve them after working 12 hrs. god, reminds me of my doubles days back when i waitered. not fun to work that long. not fun. hope you get to rest today. xo, sm

      2. Another long shift last night…45 mins short of 12 hours…ugh..don’t mind so much the work, its the lack of time to do the other stuff on my schedule that sucks. :-(

  22. I work with kids now and its so true. They’ll believe anything, or so I’m learning.
    Its vastly entertaining.
    I love this video too by the way. I just saw it this morning as its been making the rounds on FB. Kinda funny that it popped up here too.

    1. i like to think i have my finger on the pulse of internet things. ;) not really. but, yep, saw it somewhere and made my other half watch it and that triggered a conversation, which in turn triggered this post. they do, ‘say the dernedest things’ and do them! lol. xo, sm

  23. Tears, yep, tears for sure! His face just radiated when they pulled up. Such a great story, and absolutely loved the Caine’s Arcade song! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Loved your post! My step-daughter had an Easy Bake oven and we burnt the one cake we tried to make all the hell. She then lost the little pan, so that was the end of the Easy Bake…That stupid toy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Motorized cars? Now THEY are another story of coolness…

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