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Little People Play Set courtesy of Jennifer Grisham

toy set

“I wanted to be a teacher for longer than I can remember. Did the desire stem from the love of this toy? Or, was it the other way around? I can’t be sure.”

Jennifer grew up a child of 1980’s suburbia.

My parents divorced when I was young – that seemed fairly common to me as a child growing up in that era. My sisters and I participated in a lot of extracurricular activities: dance, soccer, choir, band, Girl Scouts, and so forth. My husband watches my old home movies and says, ‘Do you realize you’re the most suburban person I’ve ever known in real life?’

One of her favorite toys to play with as a child was her Fisher Price school set.

This is a toy I owned for a large part of my childhood. I must have received it when I was very young, because I don’t actually remember it coming into my life, but I do remember playing with it – a lot. I remember kneeling in front of the school, and moving the pieces around carefully.

It is not Jennifer’s childhood Fisher Price set on display here – it is a set Jennifer purchased in an online auction, as an adult.

My parents disposed of my set – they probably sold it at a yard sale, or donated it to Goodwill. One day, browsing eBay, it dawned on me to search for some of my beloved childhood toys, and this was the first thing I searched for.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing – I paid way too much to get this toy back, but it brings me joy to see my own children playing with it now.

When Jennifer purchased the set, she did not yet have children. She put it away for safe keeping – except for the teacher figurine, which she set out on a bookshelf.

Whenever I played with this toy as a child – although I had to move around all the pieces – in my head, I was always the teacher. I wanted to be the one standing at the front of the room. Little has changed – I’m not afraid to take the lead on projects, and I feel comfortable speaking in front of a room full of people. My family would probably say I’m a little bossy; I prefer to say I’m confident in my decisions!

As a child, Jennifer had wanted to be a teacher herself. She ended up following a different career path that allowed her to work from home, which often operates like a classroom itself.

I have always been excited to do crafts, sing songs, play educational games, etc. with my kids, which feeds my longstanding desire to teach. I love cutting and gluing and assembling bits and pieces together to make something new, or to add a personal touch to an existing object. I was either born drawn to arts and crafts, or this desire was fed by my toy – the one piece in the set that I have very vivid memories of is actually the craft table. Even before I repurchased the set, I probably could have drawn it by memory. My plastic preschool children were very often sitting around that table coloring, cutting, and gluing.

Jennifer’s own children not only sit at a craft table – coloring, cutting, and gluing, much like her Fisher Price children did, but today they also play school with the repurchased toy set.

I see a distinct difference between many of my children’s contemporary toys, and the simplicity of this toy. My son and daughters own lots of Fisher Price toys, and even some Little People sets, and the contrast is striking. The level of detail now is tremendous, probably in part to advances in manufacturing technology. I don’t necessarily think this is a good thing. As a child, I liked using my imagination to fill in the blanks. Playing with this set now, with my children, brings back a warm feeling of being a kid and getting enjoyment from simple things.

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