I sat at my third grade desk, with my hands hidden inside, and my light brown eyes lit with wonder at the magical pen between my fingers. It was a special pen, not one of those fancy, felt tip or gold-lined pens, but better than the average.
It came with five different colored inks- red, blue, green, black and purple.
What eight-year-old child- especially one obsessed with writing- wouldn’t find this splendid thing fascinating?
But as my teacher babbled on about the different types of clouds, my mind mingled with them- afloat in the sky, lost in the throes of creativity.
You see, my multicolored pen was so much more than a writing tool. Yes! It was something magnificent.
It was my pen– The Defender of the Universe!
I had loved the very popular television show, The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers at the time. Each of the Rangers had their own specific fighting dino-robot. If the villain of the week was too difficult to defeat with just their fist and feet, they would summon their robots and battle. And if the bad guy still would not fall, the robots would combine to form a single, powerful entity called Megazord.
I had been an expert at taking my pens apart and putting them back together again. What little kid didn’t find excitement in the destruction and construction of objects by his/her own hands? While my teacher was busy reading from a textbook, I undid the casing and pulled out the individual colored inks.
And I’d put on my creativity goggles. In my mind, the inks were five separate warriors much like the Power Rangers. They always had an enemy to face. It was usually a big eraser or a stapler. A thing that dishes out metal shards strong enough to forcefully bind other objects together against their own will? Staplers are the villains of school supplies.
Every day during class, my colored inks and stapler battled.
“Can anyone name which type of cloud hovers closest to the ground?”
Sorry, Mrs. Jones. There’s a raging stapler trying to destroy the galaxy. I’m a little busy here.
Most often, the stapler (or whatever I decided was the bad guy of the day) proved too strong for my inks to defeat, and they had to combine into a single, ultimate fighting force. I put my pen back together, and the stapler never stood a chance.
My pen saved the galaxy day after day!
But I fear it may not be able to save creativity.
I look around at kid toys today, and I fear the world has made imagination more and more obsolete.
With the rise of reality T.V., and toys that restrain creativity, a world-wide blackout on imagination has dawned.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an old geezer complaining about being left behind in the dust of present day progress. I’m only 25-years-old. “Kids these days!” isn’t a phrase that’s always on the tip of my tongue.
But, damn it, kids these days!
Around Christmas this year, my girlfriend and I were in Toys ‘R Us to buy a present for her nephew. I came across the Video Girl Barbie. Unlike Barbie of days past, this doll comes with a camera inside that records everything she sees.
Let’s ignore the obvious creep-factor of this toy. My problem is that it lessens the amount of creativity a kid uses to play with it. No longer will Barbie’s eyes be animated by the power of the child’s mind. Now, the doll literally sees things the way they are through a lens.
It’s all rather boring.
When my third grade pen looked at a stapler, it didn’t see a stapler. It saw what I saw: a villain that would darken all the stars across the galaxy. Nowadays, children see what the toy sees. Place a stapler in front of that Barbie, and it only sees a stapler.
It’s as if toy makers have to make toys as advanced as possible, today. When I was a child, whether it was a pen or a piece of string, I could easily play with it. Okay, maybe that makes me a cat, or, well, a kid simply being creative.
People would rather see life through the eyes of others. People would rather take a break from reality by grabbing the remote control and watching reality.
This isn’t always a bad thing. I admit to being a fan of Bridezilla (which is a topic for another piece). I love my iPod Touch and its applications (Pocket God!). But every now and then, I get the urge to reach for my pen and save time and space. Maybe I’ll have it battle the Video Girl Barbie and rescue creativity from its prison within the doll- the power button.