Back to Barbie basics

This Halloween when trick-or-treaters came knocking, my childhood memories came with them.

Six o’clock brought a Bratz Doll, an unidentified superhero and Harry Potter. I missed the days when I was hurried out the door at six o’clock along with Barbie dolls, Batmans and Sabrina Spellmans.

Once, my dad made me a paper maché Franklin the Turtle costume that made my whole preschool class incredibly jealous. Another time, it was so cold my sister had to wear so many layers she looked more like a football player than the bride she intended to be.

Buying half-price candy two days after Halloween can’t compete in thrill value with emptying a hard-earned pillowcase full of it.

Halloween brought long-buried feelings to the surface. I miss being five. I miss being six. I miss it all.

I miss how my mommy could write a note to my teacher if I hadn’t finished my homework. I miss weekends that used to consist of trips to the zoo, soccer tournaments and board games. I miss spelling class, social studies, class parties and field trips.

Having a boyfriend used to mean you said “hi” at recess. A tough assignment used to be a Bristol board display about lions. A bad Saturday morning meant toast instead of pancakes.

When did everything get so much harder? I always thought at some point you were given a guidebook—maybe even signed a consent form—and only then could you become a “real person.”

It doesn’t work like that—or maybe my transition manual got lost in the mail.

It snuck up on me. First it was high school, then it was first year in res. I should have seen this coming. I didn’t.

Joe Moran writes in The Journal of European Cultural Studies, “the myth of childhood innocence...was produced in the 18th and 19th centuries as a result of a series of factors: the rise of the bourgeois nuclear family, which meant that parents had closer relationships with a smaller number of children; the expansion of formal education for middle-class children, which created a specific period of life cut off from the responsibilities and concerns of adulthood; and the consolidation of markets for children’s literature, entertainment, toys and clothes.”

Regardless of what caused it, I think almost everyone these days misses their childhood—at the very least, aspects of it.

Regardless of individual circumstance, childhood was a time when the strongest of friendships could be formed over a shared love of Lego and picture books were part of the curriculum.

I’m just saying that I’ll take Playmobil, Barbies, Lego and dump trucks any day over textbooks and midterms. And if any first grade classrooms have an opening, I’m your girl.

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