Toys don't mean as much when you're not allowed to play indoors.

My siblings and I did not take good care of our toys.

We did not keep track of pieces. We were never careful with fragile parts. We smashed and crashed and broke our toys at every turn.

We would throw our toys out of our second floor bedroom window onto the driveway just to see what would happen. We would tie rope to action figures and drag them along the road as our mother drove down the highway.

Considering that we had very little growing up, this has always surprised me. I’ve often wondered why we didn’t take better care of the little we had.


I watch the way that my wife takes care of our children’s toys today, trying to keep every piece of every train set and Lego set together and repairing toys when they break, and it makes me wonder about my childhood even more.  

It has baffled me. Why were children with so little so careless?

Then I had a thought.

As children, we played outdoors at every moment possible. We were sent outside after breakfast and invited back inside only for lunch and dinner. We were sent out in the rain and the snow. Only extreme weather kept us indoors.

We has few restrictions on where we could go, so the world was our playground. We had fields and orchards to sprint across, trees to climb, forests to explore and ponds and rivers and streams to splash through. We had a barn in our backyard that we used as a clubhouse, a poorly maintained pool for swimming and bicycles that could take us anywhere.

We never had time for toys. When you are required to play outside all the time, toys quickly lose their meaning. Action figures, stuffed animals, board games, and Matchbox cars are nothing compared to a fishing pole, a bicycle, a length of rope, a baseball glove and acres of unsupervised forest and field.

Perhaps we didn’t take great care for our toys because we never had time to play with them the way my wife did as a child and my children do today. We were so rarely inside our home that we never even saw most of our toys on a daily basis.

Maybe we threw toys out of our bedroom windows in the same way that our parents tossed us out of the house everyday.

This makes sense to me. It feels right. I think I’ve found an answer.