The One Toy We'll Never Outgrow
My kids have been away for longer stretches of time this summer, giving me more time to cruise through their rooms with a garbage bag destined for the Listen Center or the actual garbage. It might officially be my favorite pastime.
The girls have begun to age out of certain things - preschool puzzles, cheap carnival prizes, costume jewelry - in favor of technological devices that we're all still figuring out how to use. But one toy in our collection will never go anywhere. It works a little something like this:
This is the Marble Game. It has no screen, apps, or batteries. My grandma had a similar one in her house that gave us hours of entertainment. My dad (the engineer) made this one for my kids, and my mom (the artist) painted it. It's the best of both of them; there is love in every layer. You can find similar versions today, but you won't find one like this. And every kid who comes through here loves it.
For every playdate or birthday party, we inevitably find someone tucked in the corner with it, mesmerized by the sound of the marbles gliding down the ramps, or racing to grab all the marbles from the tray as soon as they come down and cram them back into the top, culminating in a very loud and thrilling continuous marble flow. That is the ultimate Marble Game achievement.
So far, no one has swallowed a marble or lodged one in any kind of orifice. I think we finally aged out of that phase, too. Maybe.
It's simple, old-school fun. I think for most kids, it just doesn't look like anything they have at home, and that makes it cool. Or maybe there's something satisfying about a toy that has a clear beginning, middle, and end in how you play with it. Whatever the reason for its timeless popularity, I smile whenever I hear someone fire it up.
That someone will be me in a few years, dropping the marbles in as I cry on the floor with the dog, when the kids grow up and leave the house. Please send chocolate.
For now, it's still the best toy ever made.