No, this isn’t going to be a post about how I’m like He-Man and Holly’s like She-Ra, though I toyed with that idea. Mainly I won’t go there because He-Man and She-Ra are brother and sister, and though we occasionally push the boundaries of good taste, that’s not a role-play direction we want to go in 🙂
No, this is a post about how awesome our cartoons and toys were from the 80’s and how today’s stuff pales in comparison.
We cut the cable this spring, and have replaced it with Netflix for a fraction of the cost. Except for occasional desire to watch NFL on ESPN, I really don’t miss it at all and our television watching has gone down considerably. Before we ditched the cable, the kids would have the opportunity to watch more dumb cartoons, with occasional good stuff mixed in like Super Why!, Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train. I think most of these are on PBS anyway, but we don’t really seek them out these days and the kids are a little older. Instead of the poison that is Spongbob (I think it rots their brains), when we got Netflix we introduced LoudBoy and Birdsnest to He-Man and She-Ra, shows we used to watch as kids. They. Love. It. The animation is crude, the stories pretty weird, but usually some lesson is taught. Only recently I introduced LoudBoy to the 80’s version of Transformers which I never really got to see as a kid. Much cooler than the “new” transformers and he seemed to like it.
Looking around our house, we don’t have a lot of “new” toys that get played with often. The kids are of an age where their friends have the latest Combaticon action figure from the planet Xebec, but don’t often pine for them at our house. Instead, the toys that get used most often are old-school stuff that I played with as a kid. Lego’s are probably a number one seed, followed closely by plain paper (any color) with markers, glue, tape and crayons. Lincoln Logs and Matchbox cars are also in the mix. Things that were popular but are losing their flavor are the train table/train set and the play kitchen, though occasionally they’ll get some use. For outside play, bicycles, tag, and ghost in the graveyard are what the neighborhood kids all do around our houses.
All of these toys and activities are pretty retro and focus on body movement, mental focus and spatial awareness. Even the games that line our shelves are the same ones we played: Candyland, Shoots and Ladders, Operation, Jenga, children’s Scrabble. With all the flashing lights, electric jeeps that go up and down the driveway, and general craziness that encompass most of the toys I see at the store, I’m actually really glad our kids are not heavily exposed to this crap. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we’re inundated by the next Justin Bieber, but for now it’s a comfortable place to be that takes me back to my childhood. Legos are awesome and Christmas time with the new sets is a great day in our house!
One other thing that I used to waste tons of money (I shudder to think how much) on in junior high and early high school were baseball cards. With the mass production of cards right around the time I started collecting, they aren’t worth the cardboard they’re printed on. I still have a monster box (about 30″x30″) full of common cards, and I’ll likely introduce that to the kids at some point. Right now, however, LoudBoy has found something even better to collect: business cards. It’s actually pretty awesome, I cleaned out my business card book at work when he showed an interest in these, and now everywhere we go, he’ll ask the shop owner, or person who’s running the show if they have a business card. Really cute, and he’s so excited when you give him a new one: “I’ve got 42 business cards now!!”
Our offspring are being raised in similar values that we were and I think we turned out pretty well with a good value system to lay the foundation for our lives. Love, discipline and retro-toys, games and play are the three pillars of our parenting philosophy. Now time to go watch some more reruns of He-Man…Man-at-Arms has been captured by Skeletor and I can’t wait to see how it ends!