At this time of year the summer sun and warmth has started to slip away and become just another fab memory. Autmn slips in, quietly and without fuss and we start thinking seriously about Christmas and the New Year holidays. Those toys and pastimes that we so used to look forward to receiving. My sisters and I were always keen doll owners. The thought that we might just have another playmate to add to our family of dolls, especially if it came with a whole wardrobe of clothes and accessories. Our boy cousins used to sigh and eyes would go skywards at the very mention of such sissy, girly things. But they joined in eventually, especially if we were playing doctors and hospitals, or car mechanics if they had their garage and toy cars around. I now have several children in my extended family – I love toy buying for birthdays and Christmas!
I was reading a monthly magazine the other day when my eyes lit upon an article about the inventor of a particular brand of toy car from my youth. I had no idea this chap was local to where I have been iving for the last 40 or so years. The name of the toy is so well known, both here and overseas, that I naturally assumed it was a massive conglomerate from the US. This chap had started his toy empire many years ago after being injured when in his early twenties. In his frastration at not being able to carry on usual fun and sporting activities, he set about mending a few old toys of his own. He then produced some super duper fast track motor toys – based on the modern car of his day, these were fantastic working models – he had a ready market and never looked back. Folk stayed with a brand in those days!
There’s something wonderful about sharing a coach trip with several folk you’ve never met before but you find you have a lot in common with. this happens to everyone at some time or another when they go abroad for a short holiday. We all seem to go into over drive with the polite niceness. This definitely happened to me recently on a coach trip to germany, I knew no one when I got on the first of 3 feeder coaches . . . . . but after the first day of heavy travelling was over, and we wer on our first true excursion, I bonded with one couple who’s enthusiasm for life and anything new was utterly infectious. They had me trolling around looking at toy trains and model kits galore. Neither have I done much of before but with these new buddies, it opened my eyes to the fantastic world of model railways and everything that they encompass.
There are times throughout a year when playing near water is safer than at others. Now is just when youngsters and teenage men should not go near it. Why, year after year, do young adult men think it’s ok to jump into a largebody of water – to go for a free cooling swim? We are warned every single year about the dangers of unexpectedly deep water pockets, it makes the swimmer suddenly panic and they take in water with each breath. Very often cramp will get them aswell – the sheer cold and panic together make them move in unnatural ways, thus causing the muscles to move oddly. There are usually a lot by this time of the year. Swimming needs to be in safe public pools or lidos – never gravel pits, ponds, lagoons or lakes unless there are signs saying it is safe and legal to swim there. Get swimming lessons. If you can’t swim, don’t dump in anything!
Whenever I want to get the perfect present for my preciously picky grandchildren, I always ask for ideas from their parents. as there is always an anxious moment when the chosen gift is opened and you wait for a gasp of surprice, exitement, willowing disproval . . . The children know now not to moan or prattle on if the contents of said parcel are already in the child’s toy or book collection. This happened to me a couple of years ago. My daughter and I were going to stay with my grandson’s family for his birthday and having sought ideas for his present, my daughter queued for some time to get exactly the video mentioned. It was therefore very annoying, sad and embarrassing when the child more or less tossed it aside with a withering ‘got it already’ and not even a thanks for trying. We were not happy bunnies and words were said!
The way babies and toddlers develop has changed little over the years. Inf act there isn’t a grat deal that can change apart from the speed with thich babies graduate from blobby gurgling little lumps in a pram or cot and now seem to be expected to sit up and converse with the world at 6 months! I have connections with a relatively small number of children on a regular basis. My own have flown the nest and I see grandchildren – now teenagers and a couple of next generation great nieces. I luckily have neighbours with children aged between 6 and 12. This is a great joy to me because otherwise it can be very quiet once all your own throng have buzzed off! I love hearing the chatter of voices outside when they all come home from after school activities. The games have gone back to my youth – hopscotch, tag, british bulldog. they even do double dutch skipping – the curret phase.
I have spent a gloriously happy easter weekend away from home staying with relatives. There were no children around and although it was busy, it did seem to be missing this essential element. We made up for it though, happily joking and playing around as grown up kiddies might! The amount of chocolate scoffed was much less than in the day when my siblings and I managed to eat our way through 3 eggs before lunch! The children today seem less likely to be demanding of the chocolate egg – they seem perfectly happy with a new toy or a game that can be shared with pals. Outside my house beyond the normal driveway, there is plenty of safe area and children the other side of us really love this. Perfect for playing black jack, skipping and hopscotch. All these fabulously old fashioned games have come back into fashion big time.
Oh how playing games can be the most wonderful way of spending any spare time. Of course, as a child, there is no need for spare time. A child has to go to nursery, so play time is essential in their daily routine. Not necessarily to just make the child happy, but to help development and to bring a touch of social awareness into their lives. For some children, life at home can be a sorrowful experience and often the atmosphere at nursery school or child minder is their only escape. To playt a really close competitive game though would be absolutely out of the question. A child under stress will never be able to cope with that kind of pressure. Board games, gently explained can also present rather a challenge. Whenever a specific kind of toy or game is needed, it is worth speaking to a really good established retailer – they can advice best ideas.
There is a young neice in my extended family – and much fun is being had by all of us older folk who no longer have kiddies around to buy any presents or toys for. We have just had Christmas and of course, there were piles of presents to be shared around the gaggle of relatives. Needless to say, the largest pile by miles was for the smallest member. Many different kinds of toys were ripped open and looked at briefly, disgarded and left by the wayside in favour the of the cardboard cartons they came in. I’m ignoring any dictates on not buying girly toys. Every toy is worthy of its place and lots of life lessons start early – getting into the swing of laundry day with a toy kitchen set up that includes the washer and dryer, instilling picking up of clothes to wash them can work with boys as well as girls.
We have just enjoyed another busy Christmas and new year period – this time though we had the joy of a toddler to spoil and be enthralled by. It was hearing about the tot’s exploits, working out how to unwrap the gifts, the shortest route to success, that was the most amusing. Of course, as is always the case, the actual contents of the boxes recovered from the ripping and shredding exercise were less interesting than the cartons – nothing new there then! the point though for all of us somewhat jaded adults, was seeing the innocent joy on the toddler’s face when encounraged to show us all what was inside each box. The vast selection of toys was impressive, only one minor duplication! What pleased me was that each giver had thoroughly enjoyed looking for their gift, really remembering their own very happy childhood christmas experiences. They even recalled some of the reasons for the celebration !