By Susana Fletcher
My child wants a Lego Mindstorms kit. He’s a teensy bit obsessed with getting one. He’s been watching YouTube videos on all the amazing things that Lego Mindstorms can do. Go ahead, Google it….Yeah, you read that right. $350. In his room right now are bins of Legos, Hexbugs and their habitats, K’nex, Beyblades, Erector sets, microscopes, science and chemistry kits in every shape and size, a Kindle Fire, board games, sports equipment, and way more books than I ever read in college.
I’m pretty sure I can count the number of toys from my childhood on one hand. When I was his age, you want to know my favorite toy? A pile of bricks in the backyard. Best toy ever. My sister and I, along with my four brothers, would concoct some new plan for the bricks, draw up blue prints, and go to town, using the smaller siblings as worker ants. We made brick forts for war, leaving small gaps in construction to push our stick guns through, with peep holes to spy on the enemy. We reconfigured them into a mini-golf course, with rocks and sticks for our balls and putters. So there you go. That’s three of my five childhood toys. Bricks, sticks, rocks. I had a stuffed animal or two. And my aunt bought me a Barbie for my 13th birthday, because I had never owned one. (We had some good times, California Dream Barbie, when no one was watching. Thanks, Auntie.)
When I talk about my childhood—and consider it the best ever, because it was—it sometimes hits me that I didn’t have a “real”Cabbage Patch Doll (the fake ones don’t count), or a thousand My Little Ponies like my other 80s-kid friends. The sting lasts about four seconds, and then I remember my brothers dropping bricks on each others’ feet, and I laugh and laugh. Oh, bricksies. You were good toys.
As for my kid with the aspirations for programmable software and Lego hardware to create robots for world domination? He’s taking out the trash and mowing the lawn to earn the money. And if he gets bored with his other toys in the meantime, there’s a scrap wood pile in the garage that’s calling his name.