When my daughter was barely out of diapers, we left her baby brother home with dad and had our first mother-daughter date to see Toy Story 2. At the theatre, I treated her to popcorn, which I think was $3. I had to get her one of those booster seats so she could sit up and see. Even so, she climbed out of it into my lap a few times out of fear of Zurg. Afterwards, I took her out for her first Starbucks hot chocolate. With whipped cream, of course.
Back then, Andy was about to go off to Boy Scout Camp. Now, Andy’s off to college, and my daughter and her brother are also a few weeks away from their own sleep away camp adventure. Luckily, we still have their youngest brother around this summer. He wasn’t even a glint in our eyes when Toy Story 2 came out.
No booster seats were needed for this latest adventure with Woody, Buzz and the gang. My daughter, now 13, hasn’t sat in my lap in years and reached out for me only to plead for another handful of M&Ms. My sons preferred the popcorn. A large popcorn is now $8.
As I watched the movie, I thought of the speed at how my children are growing up, even my six-year-old son can no longer be classified as a baby, and wondered about the fate of all of their toys.
I remember even into to my tween years playing in the basement with my brother with all our toys. We would spend hours creating our own universe with classic 70’s play figures. Harrowing dramas would be played out among Weebles on their treasure island. The treasure Island with the plastic palm trees complete with a treehouse and hammock.
A nearby cruise ship – really one of my brother’s large dump trucks turned upside down, was about to sink, only with the Pirate Weebles nearby to save the passengers.
Old-school Fisher Price people – the kind today’s kids might choke on — were trapped in the elevator shaft of the Fisher Price multi-level car garage, the one with the rotating car platform on the top level. My brother would take a few fire trucks from his vast collection to save them lest the poor painted figure that was still made in the USA would be crushed! Somehow, a Barbie doll would always wind up unclothed and tied up, hanging precariously from my dad’s recliner. That was my brother’s doing. I think Luke and Leah flew in to her aid.
And now? What do the makers of Toy Story 3 offer our children as a way to “play” with toys? In the 40-minute, commercial-filled video that preceded even the previews, to accompany the movie, there are not actual toys being marketed to our children, but a Toy Story 3 video game.
Yes, a video game where children can “play” with Jesse, Buzz, and Bullseye and create their own stories. The Toy Story 3 marketers know, and even mention in this commercial, that kids don’t really play with toys anymore. According to a January article in the New York Times, if our kids are awake, they are most likely looking at a screen. Why play with a plastic action figure, or slink a slinky down the stairs when you can do all that with the help of a mouse, or a joystick, or whatever contraption they use to move images on a screen these days?
Serving a rescued Barbie a tray of food in first class in her Barbie Friendship Cool Airplane – the one that came with its own food trolley — just seems like a lot more fun to me.
Kids, play with your toys. Even if you leave them all over the floor after you’re done.