Wednesday, December 29, 2004

down with the kids

I said 'Christmas isn't the same without children or grandparents'. I mightn't have said it here (you can check) but I said it to Vic and - I tend to recycle conversations - probably to a few other people too.

Christmas isn't the same without children or grandparents, but toys, actually, go a good way to compensating (even though, unexpectedly, this was a Christmas where children and grandparents did fleetingly feature).

I spent Christmas along with my parents in Marlow, with old family friends. The children of the 3 families involved are too old for toys, but the parents, thankfully, are not, so this year's toy successes were, in reverse order:

5. Hovering remote control flying saucer toy (useless, didn't work)
4. bouncy ball (a classic and ever reliable)
3. tiny rubber chicken gun (enormous fun until we broke it)
2. ...
1. 'Bop It' toy (I am currently suffering painful pangs, withdrawal symptoms, put it that way).

2. Before we went to Marlow, on Xmas Eve, one of my mum and dad's neighbours called by with her seven year old son, who, entrusted to my care for 10 minutes while the 'adults' talked, was agreeably enthused by a Christmas spirit I had pretty much forgotten.

When I was younger, a teenager, I was good with little children. But I was surprised to realise, courtesy of a little jolt of panic, that I can't really remember what to do to keep a kid amused. Toys, I suppose.

My dad has a display case of tin toys but I can barely remember playing with them, although I must have. They are mostly clockwork models of cars, animals or robots, often originating from the Far East, India or Russia. And they are very satisfying to play with; clunky, yet surprisingly graceful - simple and yet mysterious. I know this because over the course of an eventful three quarters of an hour, we played with all of them, and ended with the distinct and fearful impression that we had poisoned our young visitor's mind against any toy which dares to employ batteries, LCD displays or flashing lights in its design. I imagined him the next morning unwrapping his hand-held Sony Nintendo, X Cube Game box and saying "Plastic! I was hoping for tin". We offered him a can of coke to drink and his mother suggested that coke wasn't allowed. My mother struggled not to adopt a wounded look - I was raised on the stuff. I can take my teeth out just like that.


In Marlow, the hit of the holiday was a hand-held toy upon which you had to beat out a rhythm. Five things to press is too many for me so me and Kumi divided up the responsibilities. We scored 26, a high score. And if anyone is reading this blog and has managed better, I salute you. But you must have cheated.

1 comment:

Simon said...

I got 90. The trick is to try and do it in time.