Some people say that when you look into a child’s eyes you can see the future. Now normally after those people say something like that, we usually ask them whether they have taken their pills, and most of the time, their response is, “No, not yet.” But regardless of whether those people had neurotic disorders, there is probably some truth in that statement.
So it got me to thinking: Can you really tell what will happen to a person given their actions as a kid? I mean, George Dubya did some drugs as a kid, and he ended up being president. And that’s not just a Republican phenomenon. Many of our past presidents have experimented with illegal substances—Clinton with the wacky tobacky and Eisenhower with gin and tonic (hey, he grew up during prohibition, people). So does that mean that if I do drugs, it will strengthen my chance of winning the New Hampshire primary in 2024? Because if so, that would be a great excuse for parents when they find out I was doing something illegal.
There has got to be some sort of tell-tale sign that will show us just how this child will turn out. And then I realized, you know, I used to play with that board game Sorry all the time when I was a kid, and as it turns out, I happen to be apologizing for lots of things in my life. So that’s got to have some sort of connection. The toys that a kid plays with have got to be telling.
Now I’m not talking about “kids” as in the people who live in my dorm who play X-box seven hours a day and who think Tom Clancy is “this guy who keeps coming up with great first-person shooter games.” I’m talking about kids between the ages of “oops, I wet myself” and “what is this bumpy pink thing on my face.” Now those kids have lots of influencing what happens to them. Who’s to say that a kid’s older brothers should have more influence than the Milton Bradley brothers?
I did a nationwide survey of influential people and received some very interesting results: Toys are very influential on kids.
Donald Trump said he played a lot of the game Monopoly when he was growing up. Risk, the game of world domination, was a childhood favorite of our very own commander in chief (although he did mention that holding onto North America for more than four years always proved pretty difficult for him). And of course, when Oprah was seven years old, she would go nowhere without her traveling set of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
While there was so much more, what was truly interesting about all these retrieved surveys was a consistent “no” answer to the question, “Do you play with these toys anymore?” While some celebrities said the occasional yo-yo trick would prove amusing, they rarely had time to sit back and play one of their childhood games. Now that’s got to be a tragedy.
Some of us are already making important decisions in life, like what to study, who to date or what light beer to buy. And for the rest of you, one day that time will come when you will have to make a decision, like whether to spend that extra 59 cents to Biggie Size it. But all of us need to be aware that when we get out into the real world—a world where you may actually have to pay for drinks, a world where AIM is just a word for sportsmen with rifles, and in that world—we might get lost. And you might get out of Duke and grow up a little too fast. Chill out, cub scout. Have a nice quiet night at home and whip out that Scrabble set. Find those old dominos or, dare I say, Magic cards? Pogs?
So maybe I poked fun at the kids down the hall with the high scores in Mario Tennis, but perhaps we need a little of those kids in each of us when we get out of here. Go for that law-school-Fortune-500-cure-cancer-heal-the-world-govern-the-country-do-whatever-you-want lifestyle, but don’t get so swept up that you lose the big picture. Play Monopoly. What’s the fun in life if your life isn’t really that fun? (And stop giving Buzz Lightyear toys to kids. We have way to many unemployed astronauts in the world).
Yoni Riemer is a Trinity sophomore.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.