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Out of the Box

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

TuesdayTorah@imabima.blogspot.com

It is amazing that we made it safely out of childhood with only some faded scars to show for it. Wandering unsupervised throughout the neighbourhood, our parents must have had some vague sense that we were having a good time and were out of harm’s way. No cell phones to track our every move. No chaperones to catch us when we fell. No schedules to prevent us from enjoying the bucolic days of our youth. Free time was yet to be regarded as evil and many an afternoon was spent lazily watching clouds float across the powder blue expanse.

And then there was The Box. Leftover from the move the summer after my Kindergarten year, The Box was laden with possibilities. Over the course of its lifetime, it was a house. A grocery store. A telephone booth. (Remember telephone booths??) And after being rigged to some kid’s skateboard, it even served as a Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica. Though now that I think about it, it is a miracle that no one got seriously maimed or injured given that we rolling down the street in our “Viper” with scant visibility and absolutely no way to steer or brake.

Today’s kids live in a reality filled with stuff. There is a Jewish word for that stuff. It is known as chazerai. Every time I turn around, the toys seem to have participated in some sort of reproductive swell. Due, in no small measure, to the proliferation of plastic junk distributed by McDonald’s – which is now the largest toy company in the world. A recent foray through my kids’ closets, playhouse, and dumping ground (which I insist on referring to as our living room) supports the statistic that one out of every three toys received by American children each year comes from a Happy Meal box. Birthdays, Chanukah, Pesach, visits to the goody box at the doctor/dentist. All understandable gift-receiving opportunities. But when did it become de rigueur for birthday party guests to walk away with swag?

I see that I am not alone in my desire to return to simpler times. April Capil, creator of the Fridge Box, recalls that “the most creative thing I ever played with as a child was a cardboard box.” Committed to keeping environmental impact to a minimum, Capil has designed an ecologically sound plaything that encourages “kids to spend a little time every day daydreaming.”

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Crazy, no? A business selling cardboxes in order to promote imaginative play? Eh. Maybe not so crazy after all.

In the meantime, I see toy recycling in the near future here at the Frummie House. And thinking they’ll be too busy playing in a cardboard box to even notice.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 16 July 2008 2:42 pm

    Considering most children prefer to play with the boxes (at first, anyway), I think it’s a great way to circumvent that pesky ol’ toy getting in their way.

    Actually, one of my favorite childhood memories was when I made a cottage out of a refrigerator box. I think it lasted several months before my father couldn’t stand the ratty cardboard anymore and threw it out. 🙂

  2. meira permalink
    Friday, 18 July 2008 12:34 pm

    There’s a great children’s book called, Not a Box. Our “not-a-box” sits in the dining room (aka playroom) courtesy of the desk chair my husband bought not long ago. Usually it’s a choo-choo train, though it occasionally doubles as a car, boat, airplane, or space ship. And best of all, it’s (kind of) big enough for mommy . . . .

  3. Frume Sarah permalink
    Monday, 21 July 2008 10:49 pm

    Rivkah — Thanks for sharing your box story.

    And Meira, what a great idea. Mommy needs a time out in the not-a-box!!!

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