As a 30-something mother of two little boys, I don’t get to play with dolls very often. When I visit my neighbor who has two little girls under the age of five, I walk into a pink fantasy land of glittery, girlie wonders. Barbies, princesses, baby dolls, My Pretty Ponies, Polly Pockets - it’s awesome! Were I 20 years younger, you could never make me leave that house.
As a little girl, I loved two things. Fashion Plates and Barbies. My younger sister and I played with Fashion Plates all of the time. In fact, we named each ‘plate’ girl head and then renamed her when we switched her outfit. We had about 30 fictitious names committed to memory. When we got bored rubbing the girls onto paper, we started writing books. There were plots, personalities, do-gooders, evil characters, etc. We spent hours and hours coloring them and laughing at their silliness. I’m pretty sure my mom still has pages upon pages of our creations stored in a dusty forgotten box somewhere. Boy, would I love to see those again!
My other childhood obsession was Barbie Dolls. My sister and I each had about 15-20 Barbies and two small suitcases full of outfits, coats, dresses, gowns and teeny tiny shoes. To save time, we referred to single pieces of clothing as “clo” - pretty innovative, huh? I probably played with Barbie Dolls until I was 13 or 14 years old. That’s how simple my life used to be. My main concern was whether ‘Kim’ could wear her ruffled yellow dress with her matching yellow shoes. The vacuum cleaner was not a friend to Barbie’s shoes.
We had winking Barbies, posing Barbies that came with a camera, Malibu Barbies, fake Barbies, Ken Dolls, fake Ken Dolls, the Barbie dog that was really really fluffy… the list goes on and on. We named each one and gave them a story and their own special personality. ‘Sue’ was my sister’s most prized Barbie and ‘Kim’ was mine. ‘Julie’ was the most hated Barbie, ‘April’ was the ditz and ‘Star’ was the unlucky stunt Barbie that got stuck in trees on more than one occasion.
We had the townhouse and the yellow corvette, jeep and the horse trailer. Ah, those were the days. We certainly had lots of Barbie stuff, but we usually bought it ourselves with our birthday money. Aside from the toys, what I remember most is the laughter. The completely spontaneous genuine 100% heartfelt goofy loud laughter. My sister and I had some of the greatest times ever playing upstairs in a room covered with Barbie paraphernalia.
When I think about my boys, both of whom celebrated birthdays recently, I hope and pray they have wonderful memories of their childhood too. As grown men with children of their own, I wish for certain toys to spark a flood of delicious memories. Because in a crazy complicated world, great childhood memories may be the best gift of all.
What sparks your best childhood memories?