This is the third week since we started StoryWorth project. The question I received on the first week was: What was your Mom like when you were a child? And the second week was: What do you like most about your siblings? This week’s question is: What were your favorite toys as a child? Here, I am sharing what I wrote in this week with you. The format I am trying to follow is: I will answer the question first; then, I will answer the question from a mother’s point of view; and finally, I will end with an old journal entry (entries), just for fun. I just want to give you an idea of how this goes. I want to add that I will revise them later. In other words, I know there are plenty of English mistakes… sorry about that.
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When I saw this question, my first reaction was: “But, I didn’t have any!” Come to think of it, growing up I had no idea what toys were. The good thing is that since I didn’t know what they were, I wasn’t missing them either.
When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, one of my dad’s students gave me a doll with eyes that closed when lying down. I was more amazed than excited. But after watching it 3 or 4 times, I became bored and put the doll aside, never played with it again. This may not be easy for those, who have played with dolls, to understand. Let me explain… we, particularly kids, learn by watching. Back then, housewives did the chores while carrying babies at their back or in the front; babies, often, were not even in a comfortable position. I had not seen any woman holding babies in their arms, showering with affections. I didn’t get a feeling that having a baby was such a great thing; I didn’t know what to do with a doll. (I couldn’t put Candace down after she was born. On the second night, nurse forced me to leave Candace in the nursing room with other babies; she gave me a sleeping pill so I could get some sleep. I am glad a part of being a mother does come naturally – no need to google, I mean 😉
When I was in high school, we had a Hula Hoop. I don’t remember where it came from; suddenly it was there. I was pretty good at it, could keep it going forever. Sometime we had to take turns – your game is over when you dropped the hoop. I remember feeling embarrassed because the hoop just wouldn’t fall off. (I bought a Hula Hoop a few years ago. To my surprise, I couldn’t keep it on for 3 seconds. After practicing, it was improved to 3 minutes… no way near my previous record.)
Another toy we had was a paddle with an elastic string attaching to its center and a ball attaching at the end of the string. I played once in a while, wasn’t too crazy about it.
Instead of playing with toys, we listened to the radio and played games.
We tied the rubber bands together to make a rope. Two people held two ends and threw the rope into big circles; we would take turns jumping in the middle.
We also roller skated for a couple of years. One could rent the skates at facilities. Karin and Shao were pretty good at it. They did some dance routines.
Kids in our neighborhood (11 of us) often got together to play Hide and Seek. We defined a home base – usually it was an olive tree. The seeker would stand by the home base, closed his eyes and counted to 10, while everyone else was scurrying off to find a place to hide. If you were able to touch the home base while the seeker was away looking for hiders, you won (the seeker, often, hung around the base.) If the seeker found you, you and the seeker were in a race to see who could touch the base first, and whoever touched the base first won. The game would be over if someone was caught by the seeker, and this person, who was caught by the seeker, would become the next seeker. We played this game on almost every holiday for many years. Thirty years after coming to U.S., when I went back visiting Taiwan, I had a great time meeting all my childhood friends.
Marble-Ball game was another fun one. We dig 5 small holes on the ground: one in center and 4 holes are 5 to 7 feet away in north, south, east and west from the center hole. One of those 4 side holes was defined as the home base. We started the game from the base, shooting the marble to the center hole by using thumb and index finger to squeeze the marble out. The first person who could finish visiting all holes, and return to the base would win the game.
In the marble-ball game, if your marble was near your opponent’s marble, you could use your marble striking your opponent’s marble, sending his marble far away from his destination to slow him down. Many years later, Jeanne, the girl who lived next door, still remembered how we all prayed hard not to land our marble ball next to Chris’, because it would take us two shots to get back to where we were.
Since our front yard was a rectangle shape, we played Badminton from time to time (just hit the shuttlecocks back and forth, no nets). Since Chris and Karin were much older, they could keep it going for a long time without dropping shuttlecocks. I enjoyed watching them play.
We also played a game called “Avoid Ball” (not sure how to translate it). We were divided into two teams. The team who owned the ball would throw the ball toward the other team. If a member got hit by the ball, but was not able to hold on to the ball, he would be eliminated. On the other hand, if this person was able to hold on to the ball, then his team could start attacking the other team. At one of those games, Shao’s ball hit right on my face, so I cried. If I remember it right, that was the last time we played the game.
We also came up with a bicycle game: two people riding on bikes, trying to force the one another to get off the bike.
Sometime, I would ride my bike aimlessly on streets: if I saw a green light, I went forward; if I saw a red light I turn to the right. Sometime we simply rode bikes back and forth in our yard.
On New Year’s Eve, we played heads and tails with Dad. Dad would give each of us some quarters. He then spin a quarter; we put our bets on the table (one quarter usually) and guessed head or tail. If we were right, Dad gave us a quarter (whatever the number of quarters we had bet on); otherwise, we lost one. (Chinese has an old saying that if the children stayed pass the midnight on New Year Eves, parents would live longer. Playing a game was a nice way to keep us awake. 😉
I have very little feelings toward the toys I had had, but the game I enjoyed the most was “heads and tails” – that was probably the only time of the year that I saw Dad relaxing and having fun.
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When Candace was little, like all other parents, I wanted to buy every “good” toy for her, but, at the same time, since I didn’t grow up with tons of toys, I didn’t really understand what toys were for, and ended up spending a lot of time at a teachers’ store that was full of educational stuffs. One day, during my lunch hour, I saw a singing lion singing “You are My Sunshine”. I stood there for at least 5 minutes, kept playing the song, thinking how lucky I was to have a lovely daughter. It was clear to me that there was no way I would leave the store without the lion, so I did.
Later, we bought one “My Little Pony” for her; she really loved it, and that made our lives easier — we started buying all little ponies in all stores and soon she had more ponies than any toy store combined.
We also played a few games with her: we use quarters to play math game (she thought it was a game ;-); we played hangman while waiting for food at restaurants (or working on math problems).
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My “big” alarm clock wakes me up again this morning.
Around 5:40, every morning, Candace starts squeezing her body against mine and a minute later, her head would be on top of my chest. Trying to make her sleep comfortably, I quietly get out of the bed.
Since she was born, Candace is a black-belt blanket kicker. After we cover her with a blanket, it only takes a second or two for her to kick the blanket off. But, strangely, after squeezing me out of the bed, she sleeps like a baby. But, is that a tiny victory grin on her face?
I told Candace how she woke me up every morning. She laughed and said, “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I tried, but no matter what I do, you wouldn’t wake up.” I lied. How could I? She needed sleep!
“Mommy, don’t you remember?” she said, her face brightening with a mysterious smile. “You have to tickle me to wake me up.”
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