Toys to share

I like to share my sturdy, vintage Fisher-Price and Playskool toys with grandchildren. The unfinished wooden dollhouse stays home. Daisy likes the house so much that she bought it a miniature buffet for when she comes to play.

No dolls were needed for a recent visit with five grandsons and one nearly teenage granddaughter. I filled a tote with a variety of toys to share with twin two-year-old great-grandsons. I also took books for all ages, the board game ‘Clue’ and a tub of Legos for the guys who recently asked, “Can we take them home?”

“No you have Legos and Grandpa may want to play with these.” I may not want to give all my cool toys away, but we do know how to share our toys, so I brought them along.

The cousins’ parents set up an electronic video game. Legos and toys sat untouched as Titus, Henry and Sam played a few rounds of Clue. Sam, 10, played many rounds of Clue and asked, “Can I take it home?”

I handed him the box.

Trace and Tyler, who turn three this month, quickly found their favorites in the canvas tote. Trace repeatedly picked the wheeled toys. Time and again he brought us the hand sized back-hoe to manipulate. He also took ownership of the remote control for the choo-choo engine. He carried that engine around by its toddler proof antennae to grandpa.

“Push button,” he said and handed grandpa the steering wheel shaped control.

Grandpa pushed. “It needs new batteries.” He found some and said, “Let’s turn it on.”

The engine has two buttons. One initiates a horrendously loud song with toots, whistles and chugs. I clicked that button first and immediately slid it back to the off position. Any time that merry “whoo, whoo” jingle sounded, the nearest adult grabbed the engine muttering, “No way!” and slid the button off. We also slid on the motor button to make the red, yellow and blue engine move in straight lines and circles. Besides that awful song, simple maneuvers are all the train does. That’s quite enough for Trace who spent a lot of time pushing the button.

I heard Trace and Tyler talk about “choo-choo” a few times. A couple times Tyler wanted to play with it. An adult would insist Trace give him a turn. We watched as Tyler pushed the buttons, making the train go forward and in circles before we returned to our conversations. The next time we looked, Trace had the train again and Tyler stood at the toy box pulling out the magnetic building set – chubby plastic red and blue rods with magnets on the ends and yellow balls with iron inside.

He spent hours pushing the pieces together and pulling them apart. He never did figure out why the pieces refused to link when he pressed north pole to north pole. He just kept trying until someone turned the rod in his hand.

The twins played with toys. The big boys played video games until my son asked, “anyone want to play ‘Wing it?’” It’s a game where you get five cards with phrases or nouns and you have to use three to solve a challenge.”

“Sure let’s play it,” we said and spent a couple hours creating silly story solutions to the challenge cards’ impossible situations. For instance, “To get out of the sewer, I would take my 100 spools of thread and knit a cord using my baseball bat and hook it onto the plane flying overhead.” No matter how I tried, I could not find a way to work the ‘pancreas’ card into any solution. All the big folks enjoyed the game and hope he packs it the next time he visits. After all, if Trace has to share, so do we.