We had toys when we were little… lots of toys. We had a whole playroom full, but nothing specific stands out in my mind. What I have the most vivid memories of is afternoons spent playing make-believe – with just a few pieces of fabric we could be princes and princesses, ninjas and knights, ladies and gentlemen, mothers and fathers. There were no limits. It was usually outside, with the grass as our floor and the sky as our ceiling, the trees our playmates and the mountains our guardians. We built “secret” forts in the woods, dragged our teddy bears around in sleds, attended (or, in my brother’s case, were forced to attend) tea parties on the porch. The most powerful thing we had was our imagination.
It wasn’t what we played with that made the days special. My friend and I could have just a pencil and a piece of paper and spend hours making up characters with personalities, storylines, love interests, and families. We would then spend the rest of the day pretending to be those characters in the backyard, roping our little siblings into supporting roles and running amok over our acre and a half and the neighbour’s forest.
It’s not as if we were unique or anything. Almost every small child has that imaginative capacity in them – I see my younger brothers playing the exact same games we used to, maybe with a bit more shouting and pretend explosions (they are little boys, after all). They have toys too – cars and trucks and costumes and swords and Lego – but they breathe life into the plastic forms with their fantastic young minds, knowing no boundaries and not caring how realistic it is for a Hot Wheels to drive straight down a wall into a boiling pit of lava and make it out unscathed.
I haven’t said anything revolutionary, or that you don’t already know, but it’s what I was feeling. Toys are fun, and they add a colourful element to our play. But they mean nothing without imagination – it’s what makes the world go ’round.