But despite these toys, my favourite way of passing the time was playing with the magnets on the fridge.
The tiny inspirational magnet was always designated as the baby. The large rectangular one, a freebie from a fridge repair company, would be the father, while the slightly smaller one with the smiling City Council representative was the mother. The duplicate pizza store magnets were the identical twins, who later became identical quadruplets. The family grew quite a bit over the years as we picked up more magnets–Jon and Kate Plus 8 had nothing on this crew.
They traversed the farthest reaches of the fridge doors; sometimes on their own, sometimes in the ‘people-mover’ (i.e. arranged nicely)—which became a minivan, and finally a full-fledged tour bus. They went on holidays to the beach and the snow, and sometimes went visiting the crazy old aunt that no one actually liked (who was a particularly odd looking and slightly warped magnet). Other times, they simply sat around and had dinner.
They had fights. Of course they had fights—what family didn’t? Magnets got sick or injured, celebrated birthdays, and even got sent to military school sometimes. There were messy divorces where the kids had to choose sides, before the inevitable reconciliation. The lives of the Magnet family were a long-running soap opera.
I wonder, sometimes, what form creativity will take for the children of this technological era. Will they be able to imagine so vividly when everything is already imagined for them on their TV or tablet or computer screen? Will they create their own stories when there are so many just a finger-tap away?
Will they be a generation of creators, or consumers?
I always try to hope for the best. Perhaps technology will still encourage creativity in new and profound ways. But there’s a small part of me that withers in despair each time I see a child complaining of boredom because they are deprived of their computer or gaming console, or when I see them completely indifferent to the enormous potential for fun offered by a large, empty cardboard box.
There is so much still to be drawn from the depths of the sometimes brilliant, sometimes strange, sometimes sorrowful, sometimes joyful thing of neural connections that is our imagination. I just hope that it isn’t becoming a rare skill. I hope that there are still those out there who can continue the Magnet family saga, no matter what shape or form.