I bought a hula-hoop about a month ago after I had read somewhere that the toy actually helps in keeping the midsection lean and gets rid of ‘bilbil‘. I don’t really know if it actually works. It’s the mere thought of how fun it could be that made me get one, considering how much fun I had with it when I was a kid. Well, it turns out, just because you were awesome at something in your youth does not mean you’re going to be just as awesome at it as an adult. But that’s not the point.
It’s been years since I last visited a children’s toy store. I had forgotten how it has always left me in awe. How lucky kids are nowadays with the countless shelves of Legos, board games — old and new, dolls (!) — who knew Barbie had so many competitions already, bicycles of different sizes and colors, robots — various kinds of toys. The best part is, for specific toys in the store, children are actually allowed to play. It’s a far cry from how toy stores were when I was kid. It’s also a wonder how most kids nowadays would rather spend hours on their tablets and gadgets instead.
I remember those trips to the toy store with my older brother when we were much younger. My brother would instantly run to where the G.I. Joe’s, Transformers, or Legos were, and I, to where the Barbie was. At that time, and considering our family’s situation, those trips were a luxury, and most of the time, it would only be just to window-shop. When it came to toys, we relied on what our Mama (grandmother), aunt, and uncles sent us from the States. Those toys were gems to both my kuya and I, and later on, my younger brother.
Other than the toys and the trips to the toy store though, one childhood memory I am very fond of would be the trips to the bookstore at the old Everlast along Quezon Boulevard, just a little past Banawe Street. Every time my older brother and I accomplished something remarkable in school (or at least passed all our subjects), we were assured, not just a trip to the bookstore to window-shop, but a book of our choice each. My brother and I entered the bookstore with the same amount of enthusiasm, maybe even more, with a toy store — eyes-wide open with joy, with matching extra bounce in every hop. There were times when we would even bargain with mom for a second book, after asking her if we had enough money for it.
I cannot remember exactly how my parents did that – – – making my brothers and I appreciate books over toys at a very early age. That’s how our love for reading, and for me later on, writing, had started. From Bible stories, to all the fairy tales, and later on in our teenage years, Sweet Valley High, Spy vs. Spy, Mad, and Archie Comics — those were what we treasured as kids.
More than the trips to the toy store and the bookstore, or the toys and books we have acquired in our youth, those childhood memories and experiences taught us the value of knowledge, of hard work, of patience, and of giving importance to what we have.
Being taught early on to learn from everything — books, experiences, other people; to realize and work hard for our dreams or what we want; being taught early on that sometimes what we want isn’t always within reach, and that we would have to wait, at times, wait long; and when we finally have what we want, we take care of it.
Toys that can be manipulated, books that can be read and learned from over the years, and memories we keep going back in time for, these are some of the things that have helped shape and mold who we are now. The same things we hope to pass on to our children as well.
*Photo of some of the books of my youth. October, 2016.