toys and childhood

monkey at play
Gouache and poster paint on sandpaper, 2004

I saw Toy Story 3 two days ago.

I thought it was a good movie… and as a dear friend would say, may puso (it has heart).

My childhood wasn’t abundant with toys, or toys that I got attached to though. I think after a poltergeist attack by a stuffed koala at age 4 or 6, my brothers and I stayed well away from toys. My favorite times as a child were sleeping in blanket houses (bahay-bahayan), complete with bulbs from broken down toys as night lamps, and biking around the village, looking for old houses to make into our clubhouse. Come to think of it, we kids stayed outdoors a lot, played kickball, swam, got filthy and sweaty, as kids are supposed to get.

The movie that I connected with more than Toy Story 3 was Bridge to Terabithia. For me that captured the imagination of a child at play and it touched me deeply; I cried lots watching it, and probably because the play that it featured didn’t involve toys. Having a five-year-old niece in my life, I’m now wary of toys and giving kids toys, that there’s something unnatural and limiting about playing with toys (modern toys especially).

When I was in late grade school, I always used Peter Pan to describe myself–the boy who didn’t grow up– and I was nene that way. Always with lit up eyes when it came to fantasy and role-play. I honestly believed I was never going to be a grown up, maybe because I also believed the world would end by 2000. I don’t think I ever bothered with adult things until college itself…

In that way I’m grateful for my childhood. I wasn’t a precocious child who was in a hurry to grow up… and even boys were a hovering but still distant concern.

I hope all the kids in our generation’s care–our children, nieces, nephews, godchildren–still grow up with the familiarity and accessibility of imagination. Watching Toy Story 3 with my niece was promising. I especially loved it when she would sit up and down in her seat, then clap, or raise her arm while rooting for Woody—reminded me of myself and how I reacted to Falcor and Bastian flying together in Neverending Story (and this was when I saw it again last year! hahaha…)

Hugs lots, friends.  Let us remember our childhood (with or without toys) not just with fondness, but with deep thanks, for the wonders and vividness we took from it, and now pass on to the new kids in our lives ;).

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