They Didn't Make that When I Was a Kid.....or the Adventures of Riding Rody
I have never really grown up in some ways, as many men I suppose. I still like to play with toys. I find it amazing how toys progress, leaving me wishing for eternal youth for summers of fun and Christmases of toys under the tree forever.
Sure, my toys may be more expensive now, but like a baby with the cardboard box ignoring what is in it, I am pleased most by simple toys - particullarly those labeled for between the ages of 5-12.
Now in my third generation of childhood (mine, daughter, granddaughters), I still find magic in playing with the kids and their toys. Most of the time I am a desired playmate for the kids, maintaining the energy levels and stamina to run, pick up and play with a five and two year old.
Fun can be as simple as our Music Day, where the granddaughters and I rock out, dance and make noise with the drums, guitars, keyboard and horns they have been provided with in my basement, or flying a kite.
It is the constant creativity of toy companies that never ceases to amaze me. I was a poor artist, but these Wonder Crayons and other wild crayon and marker sets are just fun, no need to be artistic. They come with stencils, and feature crazy, color- changing inks or papers. I have a hard time sticking with the five year olds plan for the work when I have my own ideas.
My favorite expression for the last 20 or so years has been “they didn’t make that when I was a kid”, as I wandered the toy store, watched commercials and see my kids and grandkids get new toys. Legos have come a long way, the Fischer Price
Railroad is perfect fun and may lead to Lionel trains later. Raising a child and having two grandchildren assure I have never run out of childish enthusiasm for checking out new toys.
Over the trials of fatherhood and grandfathering,a simple, yet unwritten law has developed which is “dad/grandpa gets to play with and test all toys brought into the house”. Normally this isn’t much of a problem, but sometimes the kid in me just can’t wait either, and it takes time to learn these rules as I discovered this past Christmas with my two-year old granddaughter Ashley.
Rody, a small bouncing toy that my two year old granddaughter bounced on at a local toy store at a mall all the time, waited under the tree downstairs. When my wife brought it home, she said it could hold up to 400 lbs. My first thought was, “I only weigh 185, cool”, as I looked at the small rubber horse, wondering how it could hold me, much less another 215 pounds, as the ears on this thing stick up to the knees on my 5’ 10” frame.
Rody was left under our tree downstairs with the musical instruments, which stay down there for some reason. Once Christmas arrived and the main show was over upstairs it was time to head downstairs. Alyssa, the five year old spotted Rody right away, Ashley started hopping and grandpa asked if he could ride.
“No, it’s my Rody”.
A few minutes later as the guitar and keyboards were opened the mind of the two year old left the Rody, but the mature, 47 year old mind of grandpa was not so easily distracted from something I had been wanting to ride since my wife brought it home. Seeing my chance I scrambled over and grabbed the litte rubber horse and began hopping. The five year old ratted me out.
“Ashley, Grandpa’s got your Rody”
To which the little one chases grandpa down on the Rody, telling me to “get off, it’s my Rody”. I tried to hop away as quickly as I could, but fell off. So everyone, including Ashley got a laugh, as she took back Rody from under my legs and then hopped back to the tree.
Now Ashley teases me with Rody, but lets me ride it for her entertainment watching the silly, gray haired, grandpa hop like an idiot until he falls or wears out. She often hops on Rody, saying she is riding Rody to the ranch, which is in the girls’ room. She recently tried to ride double on my back while I was on Rody, we fell off laughing, the horse is just too small.
Being two, Ashely is at that selfish age where everything belongs to her, my dog is her dog, and so on. But she has learned
that Grandpa is always willing to play - and will play with the toys, whether they’re mine or not.She gets it now and likes to tease me, noting with a smile that they have a new playground at their house and "you can't play on it".
Riding Rody has become an adventure for all, riding to the ranch or store - and I am not allergic to this horse. A magical adventure that can only be shared with a two-year old.