Sunday, 30 October 2011

When I was young...

When I was young I looked a bit like this...

...happy, slightly grubby, playing outside with plastic toys. In fact, come to think of it, that's how I spent a lot of my childhood. Have things changed much?

Just today I was talking with the sales assistant in my local shop about "the good old days" (and I'm only 32!). A child of the 80's, or 1979 if we want to be precise, my childhood wants and needs were pretty basic and my career aspirations simple - post office worker or librarian, basically any job where I could stamp and sort stuff all day long. My 5 year old, clearly having cast her eye on one too many issues of OK magazine would like to be "a lady in a car".  Whilst I used to wish and hope for one of those guns supermarket assistants used to label up the produce, she wishes for a "mobial fon" or a mobile phone to you and I. (See exhibit 1 below).

(Apparently you colour the other bunny eye in when your wish comes true. It's going to be a long wait until 2021 sweetheart...)
When I was a baby, and I whilst I was probably busily chewing on the bars of my lead painted cot, my mother chose a rather attractive brown and orange pushchair. (I told you - it was the 70's, wasn't the whole of that decade brown and orange?). It was a cheap basic stroller, merely a means to an end, a mode of transport. My parents, having to go back to work straight-after I was born, probably couldn't afford much more than that and they didn't need to did they? It did the job perfectly well. As a child someone bought me an exact replica of that pushchair which I still have to this day, in near-perfect condition considering it's nearly 30 years old.  

(Mine is in storage, I had to borrow this from Google Images...)
When I was pregnant I found there was so much more to consider than a) does it work and b) can I afford it. When it came to buying a pushchair or a pram it was all about features - 3 wheels or 4 wheels, adjustable handles, shopping baskets, clocks, cup holders, straps for putting around your wrist when you're on your morning job... Somewhere in the past few decades a pushchair has become more of a fashion accessory than a necessary evil!

And then there are the toys, oh the toys. I had toys of course, but nowhere near what my children have today. For years I longed and yearned for an A La Carte Kitchen. You know the one, I've probably mentioned it before, it's still a sore point 25 years later. It's the one where she makes beans and swiss roll for her dad's breakfast.
Yeah that one. I never got it and I was gutted. Hence, my daughter was furnished with a toy kitchen for her 2nd birthday, and obviously hasn't appreciated it nearly enough. Then there were the other things I wanted but never got like a Mr Frosty and a Barbie Dream House.  I had to make do with one lonesome baby doll, a couple of Keepers and a secondhand Casio keyboard but I did however become the proud owner of Dream Glow Barbie. Does anyone remember her? Oh how I cherished that doll. It now sits on the shelf in my little girls room and get this - it still glows! My daughter obviously has about 27 Barbie dolls already, and still wants more...
(Okay, so she's a bit grubby and she's lost a press-stud on the back of her dress but she still glows...)

Time in front of the TV was limited, normally only a short period after school or on a Saturday morning, watching He-Man, Dangermouse and The Pink Windmill. We only had a small window in which to watch TV because there were no dedicated channels and no real choice - if you didn't like The Mysterious Cities of Gold it was pretty much tough as there was no flicking over to see if there was something better on Cartoon Network!  For my children, they have TV programmes for them that are on 24/7 with endless dedicated channels and I regularly get asked to "pause it" whilst they go to the loo.

Most of my weekend time was spent outdoors, either in the garden or outside in the street riding bikes, collecting conkers or playing french cricket with the local kids, we were left to our own devices a lot and if we were ever bored it was up to use to entertain ourselves, not our parents. These days I feel that I am constantly trying to find things to occupy my children and sometimes feel like an underpaid, undervalued version of Mary Poppins.

Looking back on my own childhood and comparing what I had then to what my children have now, one thing stands out for me. We had less, but what we did have we loved, appreciated and took better care of.

Would love to hear about how your childhood differs from that of your kiddies!

love & kisses
Mrs M x


  1. I HAD A DREAM GLOW BARBIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I could have written your post word for word (well, except the age bit - I'm 37). It is one of the reasons I put my kids on a toy diet this summer. So much stuff and not enough appreciation or interest in it. How can I expect them to play with everything when they have so much? They've played with more since they've had less!

    My mum doesn't understand my need to make sure they are entertained and frankly, neither do I. I moaned to her once about it and she asked why I did it. I'm still trying to think of a good answer.

    I never had a Dream Glow Barbie, but when I was 7 I got a Pink and Pretty Barbie and it was the best Christmas ever :D

  3. I was always desperate for an A La Carte kitchen - even now, when I'm thirty, I still get a pang thinking about it!

    My brother and I used to spend hours making up plays and stuff, or having secret club meetings in the branches of our apple tree. I really hope my nine month old nephew grows up knowing that a great imagination is far more important than technology - no matter how advanced. Or is that naive ???


  4. Wonderful post to read.
    I always wanted Sindy or Barbie, but was never allowed. I loved going to my cousins, she had "hundreds" and she didn't even like them! It was heaven for me.
    My children have far too many toys, and its something I am determined to resolve. Particularly with number four on the way.


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