What were your favorite toys as a child?

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.

# # #

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.

1966

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.

# # #

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).

# # #

3/4/1987

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?

3/5/1987

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.”

# # #

Thank you for visiting my blog.

About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What were your favorite toys as a child?

  1. restlessjo says:

    I’m amazed at how much you can recollect from childhood, Helen. 🙂 🙂 And what a proud and happy Mum!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Jo. Interestingly, A lot of things, that I had forgotten, began trickling in while I was writing the story. It’s an emotional process for sure, but it is also quite rewarding.
      And yes, I am a proud and happy Mum 😉 I believe all mother are like that 😉
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox says:

    I had white plastic building blocks that I never touched unless I was sick – then that was all I wanted to occupy m time. Other than m chemistry set, I think sports, like skating, archery,and swimming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, GP. You are the second person who has mentioned Building Blocks. I bet that was a popular toy; I never saw one until I became a mother 😉
      Chemistry set? My jaw dropped. I just read a blog post on Madame Curie, and was amazed how each of us had had totally different interest; isn’t that is wonderful?
      Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. brenda says:

    Your story reminded me of recess during those early Spring days when marbles, jacks, jumping ropes, chalk (hopscotch), and baseballs suddenly appeared on the school playground.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Brenda. Your comment reminded me of recess in my school years! 😉 I seldom participated any group activities, only when they really needed someone and I was under peer pressure 😉 I remember I was so happy when I swung particularly high one day. The world was beneath my feet — that was exciting! 😉
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful heartfelt memories. 🙂 We also played hide-and-seek, and the game with two teams and hitting people with the ball. It could be painful indeed. We called it “Between two fires”. Our game with elastic was called “gumitwist” and there was no swinging it by the holders. They simply held it still around their bodies, in various heights which grew during the course of the game, and the jumper jumped on or between the two lines, depending on the set routine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      I don’t know how to thank you, Manja. I always wanted to know if children in other places play the same kind of game, but haven’t had a chance to ask. If they do, I would like to learn the English name of those games, and you told me. I am so happy. Thank you!
      I don’t think we played “gumitwist”. It is more in Europe, right?
      Have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I played with dolls, but I also had a toy farm which I asked for one Christmas. My parents were fine with that, but other people told me it was a “boys’ toy”! Grrrr…

    I enjoyed your memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Anabel. Come to think of it, I don’t remember buying any doll for my daughter when she was young (oops ;-). But one time when her dad was sick, she made him a doll. How did this come to my mind after reading your comment? It’s interesting how we remembering things…
      I think you should write your story down, too. ha ha.
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great post! Oh what fun .. I too loved hula hoop, roller skates and marbles! And I wasn’t too fussed with dolls either 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting memories and story!
    Well, I didn’t have many toys, I’d say just 2: one doll and 1 large big blue truck.
    I started to draw very early, on anything, like empty pages of books, wrapping paper, any empty space on any paper was used for drawing. I was also a lot outdoors and we also worked a lot, it was kind of countryside, so, there were always things that needed to be done. By 10, I could already cook and by 12 I was sewing all my outfits on mom’s sewing machine. When I was 14, I took sewing orders for other people since the stores had absolutely nothing, not food, not clothes and nothing from luxury items or similar. However, we had excellent children’s books with great illustrations and I could learn a lot from these. I also started to read adult books quite early and by 14 I had read through the town library, although, they initially objected my taste in reading. I read a book a day, staying up to 4 or 5 am and I also drew 1 drawing a day. That allowed to develop photographic memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      WOW! I wish I had your childhood! I love drawing, but spent a lot of time daydreaming instead. I took a sewing class, but skipped a lot of classes, because seeing my friend and figuring out my life purpose was more important at the time, even though I wanted to be able to sew. My life is full of things that I would like to do, but I didn’t. What went wrong? Or we just never satisfied? (Do you believe we had a previous life? I think a lot of unknown came from our previous lives, yes?)
      Have a great day.

      Like

  8. serendipity says:

    Hello, Helen,
    Want to say thank you for visiting my blog very often. Wish you well and great health!

    Liked by 1 person

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