Monday, March 5, 2012

Prompt It

Happy Monday! It's the beginning of the work week and in the spirit of this, I thought I would go ahead and give you all more work to do. Don't thank me all at once. I do like small gifts like tacos or shiny things, like bits of crumpled aluminum, so if you do feel like being gracious, keep that in mind. Better yet, tacos wrapped in aluminum. Double gift.

So here's the work. I figure that if I have to write (no, I'm not being forced, but if I don't do it, crazy-making happens) then you all have to write as well. Mondays are now WRITING PROMPT DAY!! Yes! I know! It is exciting! Calm yourselves for a moment and let me explain.

We all remember writing prompts from school. Whether we liked putting words to paper or not, we got assignments that asked us to detail what we did over Christmas vacation or project aspirations of our future careers (no one ever said they wanted to be a fry cook, yet, look at all the fry cooks...). Loving or hating the prompts never really mattered. They got the juicy juice around the cerebrum sloshing about. They work for me. And honestly, doling out a writing prompt each Monday will get me into a routine for just a bit more writing each week. How will it force me to maintain routine, you ask? Because I can't possibly shirk my writing duties if it means not giving people who didn't ask for more work to do more work to do.

So here's the writing prompt. It's nostalgic and sensory and sad. You're going to dig it. Oh, and if you come up with something you'd like to share, please add it as a comment to this post. I'd love to see what you've written. It's only fitting that I should care about your productivity and output if I'm making you work. I'm grinning right now.

Writing Prompt #1

Describe, in detail, one of your favorite toys from childhood (you might have toys now, but really, I don't care). How old were you when you got the toy? Was it a gift or did you save up allowance to buy it for yourself? Why was it your favorite? How did it feel on your skin? Did it give off a smell? Would you have ever let a friend borrow this toy? Describe!

Now, once you're done describing the toy, relate what happened to it. Really dig deep and figure out where that toy might be at this moment. Do you still have it or not? And if you don't have it, why not (you may have commitment issues or don't like fun anymore...)? And if you have no idea where the toy is, make up a reality for it. Is it on some other child's bookshelf somewhere? Is it under seventeen tons of landfill? Or is it in an alternate reality, leading other toys of its ilk on a jihad against sprites or fuzzy slippers?

Oh, this is Nugget. He's stellar and I still love him. If you tell me your stories, I'll tell you his.


  1. this kind of counts:

  2. It does count! I like your pursuit to bring that unfettered desire to play back into adulthood. You go, lady!

  3. In 1985, the Sylvanian Families hit the toy market. I think I was about 7 when I was smacked upside the head with the craze for the little collectible figures. As you’d surmise from the name, the set consisted of flocked plastic animal families – raccoons, rabbits, foxes, bears, you name it. They were dressed up in Little House on the Prairie fashion and lived and worked in woodsy plastic houses, tree houses, and schoolhouses. I was slightly obsessed. It actually helped spark my interest in and understanding of genealogy. I wanted ALL of them, every family, every relative, every tiny plastic felt-swaddled baby, and I had the Sylvanian Family Tree Book to prove it. Black and white portraits of all the different family members filled the book, and each character came with a color portrait sticker to put in the book. I wasn’t satisfied until my entire Sylvanian Family Tree Book was in full color! Every time I saved up enough of my allowance or did enough extra chores to gain a few bucks, I’d hit up KayBee’s or Toys R Us and buy another critter to add to the collection. For birthdays and Christmas I’d make a list of which ones I still needed. My parents and brother never lacked for gift ideas. My dad actually wired the main house for electricity, so I had lamps in every room, casting soft yellow light on the plastic rocking chairs, bookcases, and thin cotton rugs. Over the hours I spent playing with the set, all the families developed stories, different jobs, different alliances and feuds with other woodland groups (bunnies and foxes never got along, obviously). But one critter in particular stands out in my childhood memories.

    My favorite of all the characters was a baby raccoon, Russ. In my mind, he was the rebel. He would trick or otherwise endanger all the other animals. He used his cradle, baby blanket, bottle, and white lace-trimmed blue onesie to lure in unsuspecting victims. He was capable of the self-confidence that I lacked. He made me feel stronger in the face of bullies at school, and I was likewise responsible for protecting him. His flocking was worn off of his nose, hands, and the tips of his ears from all the time he spend riding in the pocket of my maroon corduroys. He smelled like pocket and like plastic. All of my friends could play with the Sylvanian Families set when they came over, but no one could play with Russ. I remember telling kids that he was special, rare, and that he was fragile since his fuzz has started coming off. I let him sleep in a special spot on my nightstand, hoping the extra rest would allow his fur to grow back in.

    By the time my family moved to Idaho, most of my toys were attic-bound. The Sylvanian houses, furnishings, and dapper anthropomorphized residents were packed up and forgotten through my pre-teen and teenaged years. When my parents moved again, about 10 years ago, I had to go through and make decisions about all the toys in their attic purgatory. The vast majority were easily garage sale fodder. But I had trouble with the SF crew. I wanted them to go somewhere they would be important again. With my mom’s assistance, I found a home for the huge collection at the Children’s Home Society of Idaho, in the Warm Springs Counseling Center. It’s a huge stone building, an orphanage once in Boise’s past. The staff seemed pretty thrilled at the donation. I don’t know what ultimately became of my old sylvan friends, but I’d like to think they helped out some kids in play therapy, or at least came to life again in the waiting room.

    I kept Russ.