Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Imagination of Youth

On the scale of the world in general (ranging from data entry clerks and accountants to artists and poets) I feel like a fairly creative and imaginative person. I create characters and worlds and stories and put them down on paper and people pay for them!

But some days I long for the unfettered imagination of my childhood. As a kid, anything was possible. My cousin and I made a slide out of my grandmother's bathtub (with the help of generous amounts of baby oil). My friends and I used to pretend that the railing overlooking the run-off ditch on our school playground was Starlite from the Rainbow Brite cartoon.

My bathtub turned into a mermaid swimming pool when I had my Sea Wees, and I could play for hours pretending I was the queen of their underwater kingdom. (Do we see the first spark of what would become Forgive My Fins?)

Or, one of my favorites, a bathtub could literally turn into a swimming pool, or a bed into playground. Wish World Kids had a very limited life, but they were remarkable. Normal, everyday objects (like televisions and refrigerators) could turn into amazing things (like game shows and ice cream parlors). If only real life objects could do the same!

And the most wonderful and magical part of all of this imagination was that we believed it. I really could ride a horse across a rainbow or swim with mermaids or play on a swingset when I went to bed.

I have to wonder if some of the popularity of fantasy/paranormal fiction is an attempt to recapture that youthful belief in the impossible. Through books, we really can swim with mermaids and soar with dragons and live forever as vampires. Without looking silly for playing with dolls and toys.

By the way, I totally miss the 80s. Best. Toys. Ever.


Sharon S. said...

I think with creative people, they never lose that childhood ability to believe and create. I wouldn't go as far to say they never grow up, but in some sense the don't . Most people let real life and the stress of our lives take over and the imagination loses. If you don't use it, you lose it.

I loved the Polly Pockets. They are like your wish kids, but very tiny.

Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

Awww....I still have that Starlite and Rainbow Brite. They're hanging in a hammock in my daughter's room with the rest of the Rainbow Brite gang and Strawberry Shortcake.
And I totally forgot about Sea Wees.
Remember The Little Prince? Gummi Bears, Glo Friends, Moon Dreamers, Shirt-Tales, Silverhawks, Wuzzles? I can keep going but I won't. ;) And of course Jem!
Oh and the originals like Teddy Ruxpin, Pound Puppies, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Transformers & G.I. Joe...
And "By the way, I totally miss the 80s. Best. Toys. Ever."

A big part of my love for paranormal & fantasy is the imagination in it.

nymfaux said...

I am having such pangs of nostalgia right now...I saw your twit-pic the other day and had to go to target and look for Rainbow Brite...I saw one doll in the clearance. I had to walk away very slowly--Plus, they'd done something wrong to her...She wasn't quite the right colors, and she I don't think she had the soft body.

I feel bad for all the kids who don't have the '80s! I know I've sometimes been envious of all the new gadgets that kids have these days, but I wouldn't trade my '80s for anything--The fantastic colors, and worlds, and wonderment, where anything was possible...Saturday morning cartoons and Christmas were the only things I've ever loved waking up early for. I'd play with them all day, then make up stories as I fell asleep. I still make up stories as I fall asleep.

And Happy Meal toys were better, too!! My sister and I got the entire Shirt-Tales gang stuffed toys from Hardee's (Carl's Jr. in some places)! And for Christmas one year, Taco Bell had different colored plush Rainbow Brite Sprites that had an elastic loop, so you could bounce them, and when you bounced them, they squeaked!

@TLC and Crystal, I remember all those and more...remember Popples? And Cabbage Patch Kids! And Thundercats and Voltron!!!! I know you already said Gummi Bears, but they're worth repeating! And, of course, Jem! And She-Ra!

I just think about the '80s and a wave of calm and peacefulness washes over me.

BEST. TOYS. EVER. (and cartoons!)

Nicole Murphy said...

Everything about the 80s was great. The toys. The movies. The music. The clothes.

Ok, maybe NOT the clothes.

I don't see why we should give up playing with toys when we get older - why should kids have all the fun?

Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

@nymfaux; I know! I can keep going and going with all the cool shows they had. 80s cartoons dot net has a huge list of all the 80's shows and info on them. And too funny, I have the blue & red sprite in my daughter's bedroom from that long ago Taco Bell! I wish I would of saved all my toys from when I was little.
When we're in the store and I see an 80's toy that I played with as a kid I just have to get it for my kids. Even if they don't want it! LoL Kids have no appreciation for great toys & cartoons nowadays.

@ Nicole; you mean you didn't like the big hair, florescent sun glasses and leopard print spandex? Ok, so maybe it wasn't all cute but you've got to admit, Bret Michaels pulled it off!

nymfaux said...

OMG!!!!! do you guys remember those florescent/neon sunglasses in the funny styles they had at Pizza Hut for Back to the Future!?!?!?

Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

Totally agree! And now they're even bringing back some of the toys that I used to play with. Late 80s-early 90s. I am not happy with the remakes either, they totally cheapen the toys I used to play with.

The Rainbow Bright, Strawberry Shortcake. Other recent ones like Littlest Pet Shop and Polly in my Pocket.

I was always a Popples fan and they didn't do much with that when they brought it back for a short time. I still have my old Popples stuffed animal too. Along with all the other toys. Our basement is vastly over-crowded

Melissa said...

Not being the creative type (CPA) I read almost entirely urban fantasy / paranormal because it is so different from my life and allows my mind to imagine all the possibilities that I can't have in my professional life.

For those of you who love and miss the 80's, you can relive it through this blog. The two guys who run it are so great and have so much fun doing it. Their podcasts have had me in tears from laughing so hard.

Helen Lowe said...

When my first novel, Thornspell, came out, someone asked me how I could write Fantasy stories. My reply was that I suspected they came from the part of me that had never really grown up and so still saw the world as possibility ...

Claire Dawn said...

Is Crystal's pic JEM? Wow!

I miss 80's toys too. I totally agree about fantasy and paranormal. They're an excuse to fantasise and not be "childish" or "crazy!"

Brenda Hyde said...

I was ten in 1970- we didn't have a ton of money but I had a few Barbie and made clothing for them out of anything that was around. Man, I loved my Barbies. It's so funny to watch my daughter now, who just turned ten. She does the craziest things that I never did and I love it! Barbie is always rescuing her brother action figures. I'll find Barbie hanging from the string on the blinds with Batman in her hand like she's pulling him up. It's awesome!

I have always been saddenedd when I run across people who have never read any type of fantasy. They are missing so much coolness:)