The Day Your Childhood Died

This is a public continuation of a conversation I had with my girlfriend this morning.

Sjixxxy C. 1989

We were wondering how many other people can remember the moment when they realized that toys no longer were fun? Not your adult toys like jet skis, cameras, or hand guns, but the stuff you had while your age was in the single digits. Blocks, GI-Joes, a hoop with a stick, etc..

My moment came when I was about ten. My older brother’s friend came over and gave me this little toy metal truck he had to play with. I instinctively took it to the living room floor and started pushing it in circles. It took several laps until the newly forming adult parts of my brain woke up and sparked off some internal dialog.

Adult Brain: “Why are you doing this kid? It’s not any fun.”
Child Brain: “But it is a toy truck. I’m suppose to be pushing it around and pretending that I am hauling away sacks of grain from the imaginary mill to be delivered to the grocer under the couch!”
Adult Brain: “Do you really think the imaginary people under the couch need you shipments of invisible wheat to stay alive any more?”
Child Brain: “Of course! They’ve always relied on my grain!”
Adult Brain: “Not for long sonny. You’re childhood is being pushed aside much like your pretend mill and grocer will be once that Wal-Mart under the ottoman finished construction.”
Child Brain: “Waaaa! I’m just a kid! Leave me alone! This is suppose to be fun.”
Adult Brain: “Not for long. Face the facts boy. You are not finding this fun any more.”
Child Brain: “You’re right. My childhood is dying. What should I do?”
Adult Brain: “Check in the bottom of daddy’s night stand for some matches.”
Child Brain: “Then what?”
Adult Brain: “Burn things!”

At that moment, I realized my innocent childhood was drawing to an end, and my simple toys would no longer be fun to play with.

Does anyone else remember this exact moment in their life? Please describe it in the comments.

Some dialog may be embellished for dramatic effect.


Bad Cat!

about 15 years ago

Toys aren't cool anymore? Fuck that! Me and my Toys R Us Visa say otherwise!
Truly though, toys have always been a part of my life, I haven't really hit the "cool grown-up" stage yet (and I highly doubt I'll ever reach it).

Mark Ryan

about 15 years ago

The things we burned were usually our discarded toys. Stuff like model airplanes or anything else plastic like little army men. I still remember the "phissoooo" sound made by the flaming plastic as it dripped to the ground. Then we graduated into blowing things up with fireworks. We also used to make our own gunpowder (sulfur, potassium nitrate, and charcoal) and burn or blow up crap with that. Such innocent times.


about 15 years ago

Toys are still fun. For example, you can sort them by country of origin and have them go to war. The Chinese toy army is enormous, covering half the living room floor. Smaller satellite armies from Taiwan, Singapore and Mexico surround the Chinese juggernaut. Nobody has any respect for the American army, which consists of one red bubble pipe and a plastic sailboat lying on its side.


about 15 years ago

i have kids. toys will always be fun.


about 15 years ago

Childhood to adolescence was more of a transition from toys to games for me.  And I've never stopped loving games.


about 15 years ago

i'm in the "toys are still fun" camp, but i can relate to that moment - it's just that, instead of realizing toys weren't fun, it was more that i lost the ability to freely play and imagine and be in that world without feeling self-conscious.  this was pretty early, definitely not the end of childhood, but probably right around the onset of puberty. 

having kids let me not care so much because i realized it's not all about me.


about 15 years ago

I'm 39 years old, and my collection of Hot Wheels/ Matchbox cars is too numerous to count.

I tried maturity. Frankly, I don't recommend it.


about 15 years ago

I can't recall the exact moment, but I remember the final, fiery battle that befell my toys when I realized I had to up the ante.  My imagination wasn't cutting it anymore and I had to call in the ILM of pre-adolescence:   matches,  rubbing alcohol and what we in my neighborhood liked to call a "crick".  It was basically Gotterdammerung for both the G.I. Joe and Cobra armies.  Still feel the sting of burning plastic when I think on it long enough.

Also, your girlfriend's art is really good.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

I don't remember when I stopped playing with toys, but I do remember when I stopped watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. One day I turned on the TV and realized that I couldn't get any enjoyment out of any of them. But that had less to do with my maturity level and more to do with the enormous suckitude of 80s cartoons -- Strawberry Shortcake, Pac Man, My Little Pony, Shirt Tales -- they were all just glorified infomercials for the toys, and no creativity went into them at all. Even my childish pea-brain could pick up on that.

But much like the other rejuveniles here, I started watching cartoons again in my 20s when I realized they didn't suck anymore.


about 15 years ago

Pac-man/Rubik's Cube hours was the best thing ever.

Maybe not.


about 15 years ago

My sister and I tried playing with Playmobil (the castle set was my favorite toy) when I was about 15 and she was 18 for old time's sake. We honestly sat there for about 10 minutes trying really hard to have fun, going through the motions of playing with plastic little men and women, and then decided to give up.


about 15 years ago

Conversation between my housemate and I in college:

Me: (Putting Star Wars toys on shelf in our apartment)

Darrell: Hey, cool Star Wars toys.

Me: Yeah, they used to belong to my big brother. I, um, think they might be worth something. 

Darrell: Really? That's neat.

(Long pause)

Darrell: you want to play with the Star Wars toys?

Me: Yes. Yes I do.

(Half an hour and several lightsaber battles later, other housemate comes home)

Rich: What are you doing?

Me: Nothing.

Darrell: Nothing.


about 15 years ago

NPR Commentator Bill Harley: Fifth-Grade Cool Quashes Sweet Obliviousness

Heard this earlier this week and it seems to fit with the post.  I was one of those kids who never quite got over how much fun certain toys and games were. I just stopped playing with them (openly at least) because I was a little less ostracized for still wanting to play like a kid if I pretended I didn't like that stuff anymore. Circuitous thinking, I know, but, that's tweenage survival mode for you, all heart and little brains with constant looks over your shoulder to discern if its working or not.  

And today, in my adult mind,  I think the idea of what is fun, what is cool, and what is age-appropriate for toys and games might all just be a social construction and I'm tempted to just write it off with that.  But in my little boy mind, it still feels pretty real, it stings to think about how hard that time really was, pretending I was someone I'm not NOT in order to fit in, but just to dampen the criticism and taunting.  What a bitter pill. So ... I'm out to fight that medicine today.   


If anyone ever wondered what "Proud to be a Wienie" really meant, I think Sjixxxy just tapped into it rather nicely.


about 15 years ago

I distinctly remember systematically reducing my entire GI Joe collection to a molten, fireworks-induced pile of plastic over the course of one summer with my best friend, joHHHn.


about 15 years ago

But of course,no matter how old you get, its still ok to play with balls.Its called SPORT

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