Favorite childhood toy?
“Sesame Guys” (Known to the rest of the world as “Little People”). My sisters and I would set up Little People villages and spend weeks upon weeks playing out the detailed lives of the people in our community. We had a lot of the popular sets—the Sesame Clubhouse, the Neighborhood, the Castle, the House, the Airport (with airplane-very cool), the Barn…and we would set them all up along the rug in our family room for maximum playing ability (and for the built in streets that the curves of the rug’s multicolored threads created).
Favorite childhood game?
Tag! Of course! At recess my friends and I would play a traditional version of the game within the borders of a circular maze that was painted on our playground’s asphalt. So much fun!
Favorite childhood candy/cereal/treat?
My parents weren’t much for treats of any kind so I rarely had them growing up, but I would say my favorite treat, when I actually got a treat, was hands down chocolate meringue pie from a local pie pantry (that has since closed, unfortunately). Now that I’m older and have a more sophisticated palate I go for the Chocolate Cream or Tollhouse.
What of your interests, preferences, obsessions (movies, TV, toys, food, clothing, etc.) might be considered childlike or childish? Why do you love this stuff?
Well I’m a big Disneyworld/Disneyland fan and go as often as I can (which, given my current address is not as often as I’d like). I love old-school Popeye Cartoons and PBS shows like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street (pre-Elmo’s hostile takeover). I have a collection of child-geared board games (“Pretty, Pretty Princess”, “Barbie, Queen of the Prom”, “Mystery Date”, “Candy Land”, etc.) that I love to play. But I don’t particularly consider any of these things to be “childish”. I think that word comes with too many negative connotations.
As far as why I love these things, I would say I’ve always remained very connected to the person I’ve been throughout all the ages of my life. I don’t see aging as a mandatory transformation from an old, expired version of one’s self into a newer shinier model. I’ve just no interest in sloughing off activities that bring me joy, as these do, simply because the current societal norm might suggest that I’ve passed their expiration date. So, I suppose I play what I enjoy playing like everyone else does and for me that just happens to involve playing in a way that some people perceive as “childlike”.
Did you have these interests as a kid? Were they developed as an adult, were they denied to you as a kid?
I did have many of these interests as a kid, but certainly there are some child-like things that I’ve only now come to enjoy as an adult and some things that I enjoy more now as an adult than I did when I was a kid- my appreciation of them deepening as I’ve realized how special they really were- things like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I can appreciate the Neighborhood on a whole new level now that I can see how finely crafted a show it really was.
Ever feel any stigma from colleagues/parents/friends about childlike tastes or mindsets?
Of course. But I find that most people enjoy being with someone who is playful. It frees them up to play—something that many adults haven’t felt free to do since they were young children. It’s funny but allowing someone to be playful—really playful with you—is a very tender thing. It’s embracing in a really primitive way. It’s like saying, “I know you’ve got a goofy, embarrassing kid inside—but so do I. It’s OK. You can let her out. It won’t take away from everything you’ve accomplished. It will help you enjoy everything you’ve become.” And it really does help you enjoy the person you are now to think like the person you were once.
Do you think childlike tastes are related to childishness -- i.e. are rejuveniles more gullible or easily manipulated, less responsible or self-sufficient?
Not at all. That’s why I don’t like the word “childish”. I think it tends to evoke in people’s minds a person who is immature and irresponsible- the negative traits of children rather than the positive ones. I consider myself to be extremely responsible and self-sufficient. Not only that, I actually enjoy doing “adult” chores. I like paying my bills. I like going to work. I enjoy my adulthood because I can remember how much I wanted it and I don’t take the freedoms that I longed for for so long for granted. If anything, my connection to my childhood enhances my adult life.
Are you a grown-up? If so, when did you become one? If not, when will you become one?
I’m a continually growing-up-and-down-and-all-around-grown up. It’s great.