I recently got back in touch with an old friend of mine and we were discussing how fun it is, not just to see our parents (now as grandparents) interacting with our children, but also to see our parents bust out our old very awesome and now vintage toys. Even more amazing is how, even in today’s world of Ipads, Ipods, PSP’s and Nintendo DS’s, our children still flock to these toys like ants to a pile of spilled sugar.

As I  watch my daughter play with some of my old favorites, I can almost see her imagination growing, right before my eyes, like one of those time lapse videos of a seed germinating and growing into a brightly-colored flower in the span of just ten seconds. These old toys were minimalist compared to what you would find on store shelves today. There are few bells and whistles, no flashing lights, no loud obnoxious music or baby voices spouting gibberish or singing a Hip-Hop version of the ABC’s.

Looking at something like my old toy phone…

…and then comparing it to some of the modern toy cell phones they make for toddlers with all the loud beeps and boops and sing songy voices and flashing strobe lights, it’s starting to make sense why so many children today seem to have almost non-existent attention spans and are being diagnosed with disorders like ADHD. Seriously, whatever happened to letting kids use their good old imaginations? What happened to kids making up stories and singing their own silly songs and taking an old cardboard box and turning it it into the finest Barbie palace or G.I. Joe fort you’d ever want to see?

And don’t even get me started on the safety issues with toys. My old phone wouldn’t even make it out of the factory these days. Someone would most likely deem the short rope to be some sort of choking or strangulation hazard, and the whole lot would be recalled and destroyed. Perfectly good waste of a perfectly good toy if you ask me. I played with that baby for years and I’m still around. And I have absolutely no qualms about letting my daughter play with it either.

See, I believe in parental supervision, especially at this age (almost 18 months), because toddlers just don’t quite seem to have a firm grasp on concepts like cause and effect just yet. When you’re talking about toddlers, even something as innocent as a soft rubber ball can become a safety hazard, as my daughter discovered just this afternoon after she tried to stand on one, only to end up doing a hard belly flop on the dining room floor. Does that mean I should never let her touch a ball again? If that’s the case, I might as well just build her a nice fireproof, floodproof, germproof padded room and lock her away for good.

Instead, it’s my job as a parent to let her grow, and to foster her imagination and encourage her creativity and keep her as safe as I reasonably can. So, I’ll do just that, with the help of some of my oldest and dearest friends. Meet, Mr. Squeaky Bear (who has also stolen our dog Electra’s heart because he sounds, and even sorta looks like a dog toy)…

…the Fisher Price Chime Ball, the Fisher Price Candy Man wind-up radio, and–the crown jewel of them all–the Fisher Price Activity Center…

…and last, but certainly not least, the Jumpin’ Jimmy School Bus.

It just doesn’t get much better than these…well, except for our old Barbie bus, which is a whole other blog post entirely. You’ll just have to wait for that one!

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all those oldie but goodie toys we all loved during our childhoods, and to our fabulous parents for holding onto them long enough to pass them along to another generation. Tell me, what were some of your favorites?

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