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Saturday, November 23, 2013


A cranky opinion for Cranky Opinion Saturday
The following is the opinion of a cranky old man.  Opposing opinions are welcome...they are wrong, but welcome, and please, no name calling and that means big stupid head. 

When I was growing up (a process as yet to be completed) we did not have the stuff that kids have today.  What the hell did we do?  We obviously didn’t have computers and all the neat computer games that kids have today, and we also didn’t have many of the board games or toys that were developed sometime after I grew a hair on my chest.

We played games that were not yet “invented.”  We didn’t invent them, they were passed down from generation to generation until Parker Brothers invented (patented) them.

With paper, pencil, and 5 dice, we played Yahtzee, a game taught to us by my Grandmother’s friend, Aunt Bets.  The rules were in our heads.

With a book as a barrier, a pencil, and some graph paper, we played Battleship.

Paper and a pencil was all we needed to play Hangman.

We used a rolled up sock and a bent coat hanger as a hoop and played Nerf Basketball before a “Nerf” anything was invented.

Ten “C” batteries and a golf ball was all we needed for an indoor bowling game.

We could turn a sheet of paper into a glider plane that could sail across the street.  Twirled just right, a piece of paper became a dart, and when huffed through a rolled up comic we had a dart gun which could fire that projectile from the living room to the kitchen with surprising force.

When we were older, roller skates and a board became a skateboard.  Some wood and baby carriage wheels became a downhill racer, and even later a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine powered the racer.

A lot of the stuff we built or games we made up did not work real well.  The fun was in the invention, the anticipation and success or failure, the end result was always good for a laugh.

When we did have toys, they did not come with instructions.  Erector- Sets, blocks, Lincoln Logs, and Legos were just pieces for you to use to build and make up stuff.  They did not have specific pieces and instructions for making specific structures.  You put something together and then took it apart to build something else.

Every toy today has to teach.  Pull a string and some voice tells you “Cat, a cat goes meow.”  Press a button on any game and you get a lecture, “It’s fun to share your toys.”  Drop a ball and the child gets instant self-esteem,   “Oops…nice try, you’re getting better, next time you’ll catch it for sure.”


I cringe when I see a kid struggling with a toy and a parent running over to demonstrate how to play with it.  DAMN!  The fun is in figuring it out.  The fun is taking something and playing with it the way your imagination sees the way to play with it.  These are toys…these are games…there are no rules when you are a kid, and if there are rules it is because the kids make them up.  They make them up, they adjust them and they are just fine.  Leave them alone.  Leave them alone and they will learn that a cat goes meow, it is fun to share your toys, and that they will eventually catch the ball.

Leave them alone and their self-esteem will be earned and will be real.  Leave them alone and they will develop imagination and problem solving. 

Leave them alone.

Let them develop their imagination. 

It is the one thing that Parker Brothers can't patent.

The preceding opinion was from a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management...Mrs. Cranky. 


  1. bar-friggin-arf! ha ha! love that!

    i loved blocks and builder sets. my farm yard barn, animals, tractor, wagon, dump truck was well used. i played hangman and tic-tac-toe. and i fixed picture puzzles as soon as i was old enough to do so.

  2. No kidding. Every parent these days wants little Johnny or Suzie to develop into geniuses, when the fact of the matter is, if they don't figure sh*t out on their own, they ain't gonna develop into too darned much at all.
    And then they grow up thinking the world owes them a living.
    I'll settle down now.

  3. My parents' never changing last words: Go figure it out.

  4. Didn't you make stilts out of coffee cans and twine? Or, if you couldn't wait for the coffee drinkers to down those mountain-grown grounds, out of pork'n'beans cans?

    We built a miniature golf course out of the fine gravel along the road when parents' cars were off to work, using marbles and twigs. Don't get me started on the running backyard baseball games and the dugout we tried to dig all summer. Not in my yard, of course.

  5. Too true. I have to laugh when I see the kind of toys an ex-neighbour used to buy for her kids. It taught them how to develop everything except for their imagination.

  6. You make an excellent point and I couldn't agree with you more. The proof is why so many kids have more fun with boxes and packaging than they do with the actual game or toy.

  7. Amen!! my favorite game invention of all time was Newsprint Arena. I stretched an old bike inner tube across fenceposts on either side of the driveway, soaked some newspapers in water, and made huge j-wads that I propelled using the inner tube.

    No joke- the neighborhood kids loved it so much that they would ride their bikes by and beg me to knock 'em off. Good clean 'mercan fun.

    Those were the days ....

  8. Too right. When my kids were little it used to really annoy me how every toy seemed to come with a sound and light show. I used to take the batteries out of half the stuff so the kids could play with the things the way they used to be (and more to the point because the voices and bells were so annoying!)

  9. I actually remember playing with a barrel hoop and a stick. It kept me engaged for all of two minutes. Building a dam across a stream and fitting it with a sluice which drove an old dynamo and powered a lamp was much more fun. Now if I'd has a computer...

  10. simple toys are the best as they stimulate imagination and creativity. i can say this with some authority based on various bits of research i was exposed to during my undergrad degree.

    on a personal note when i worked with very poor children of squatters i saw how anything a kid could find became a plaything, sticks, rocks, rags, whatever. i believe god made children this way so even the poorest child could play.