Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Child's Play This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
In my childhood I did what most children do with their abundant spare time: I watched CNN and caught up on the latest trends in the stock market. Just kidding-- unless you count Cartoon Network as a kid’s version of the Cable News Network-- I played with my toys of course. Every child has a favorite toy, and I happened to love my Barbies. Looking back, I feel as though playing with them brought me so much joy because of the freedom they provided me with. As a child I quickly grew accustomed to hearing the words “No, don’t do this.” or “No, don’t do that.” However, with my Barbies, I had the power to create a world of my own with no restrictions or limitations. Little did I know that in reality my creations reflected my perceptions.
Many adults often claim that ignorance almost always accompanies childhood innocence. A societal preconceived notion in the typical condescending minds of adults, namely parents, prompts them to actually believe that children cannot see what they see, or hear what they hear, because of the mere fact that they have not lived as long. These adults fail to realize that aging perpetuates not only a loss of sight and hearing, but also a loss of insight and understanding. Whereas youth, in all its glory, untouched by the acerbic, stale seasoning of age, illuminates a wide capacity for children to simply, humbly and clearly perceive the people and the places that surround them
Every day after elementary school I climbed up the laminate wooden stairs to my room and played with my beloved Barbies. Both the playwright and the puppeteer, I produced the plot of my dolls’ lives extemporaneously by reaching into the recesses of my mind and sprinkling my memories with bits and pieces of my imagination. When Ken came home from work I shouted in my husky pretend man voice, “Barbie I’m homeee!” I propped Barbie up next to Ken and made the dolls kiss each other. Naturally, I made sure to cover their daughter Stacey’s eyes. Barbie baked a sumptuous plastic turkey dinner and they all ate together as a family. After dinner, Barbie commenced her usual evening routine with her daughter and helped her with her homework: “2 plus 2 equals…?” Barbie asked her daughter. “Four!” exclaimed Stacey bursting with alacrity. On Fridays after school I plopped Barbie and Stacey into Barbie’s hot pink convertible and they always went to the movies to watch Cinderella, a childhood favorite of mine. On Saturday mornings I dressed Stacy in her park ensemble: jean shorts and a floral pink t- shirt. I interlocked Stacy’s thumbs with Ken’s because there were no spaces between their tiny plastic hands. The dolls merrily walked side by side to the park. Ken watched Stacy gambol about and when she finally tired herself out; he bought her ice cream and took her home. My dolls lived a life that put the picture perfect moments in every Kodak commercial to shame, but of course perfection never lasts for long.
In fact, nothing ever lasts for long. I believe that only change serves as a dependable constant in life. Soon Barbie got a job. I took one of my old shoe boxes and designated it as the real estate agency where Barbie worked. I placed the tattered brown box inconveniently far away from their gargantuan pink mansion. Unfortunately, Barbie’s new job prevented her from coming home in time to fix dinner, so they stopped eating as a family. Since Ken busied himself on the phone making important calls for work, no one ever helped Stacey with her homework. A frigid wave of loneliness washed over Stacy. For the first time it occurred to her that she had no brothers or sisters, no one to talk to, and no one to play with. Right there, in the middle of my cotton candy pink room, it dawned on me, a small ignorant child, that perfection is merely an illusion, a deceptive veneer faker than plastic. Many adults never reach this realization in their entire lifetime. I saw straight through the synthetic smile on Stacey’s face. A lump the size of a boulder crept up to the center of my throat. My eyes began to sting like microscopic pins and needles as I drew tears under Stacy’s eyes with my blue crayola marker.
The days went by and I began to play with my Barbies less, and less. They lost their enchantment and TV proved to be a better, more reliable source of entertainment. One day I came home from school grinning from ear to ear. Rather than running straight to the television set like I usually did, I ran into my father’s home office and launched into a detailed account of the day’s events. I attempted to explain to my dad that I received a sticker from my first grade teacher Mrs. Miller for being Student of the Week. “Not now honey,” he said gently pushing me aside. “Daddy’s really busy. I’m on the phone with a customer. Why don’t you go upstairs and play with your dolls. Later I’ll order us some pizza. Who’s the best?” Normally I would reply “Daddy!” and jump for joy at such a delicacy, but pizza for the billionth time this week sounded less than appetizing. I stormed up to my room and slammed the door. Then, like the obedient little pet my parents trained me to be, I began to play. I kicked down Barbie’s precious pink mansion and stomped all over it. I snatched Barbie out of her shiny hot pink convertible and colored her whole entire face with green marker. I ruthlessly ripped Ken’s head off and flushed it down the toilet (to this day my parents still haven’t forgiven me for the plumbing bill).
Fast forward this story by nine years and you can see my dad picking me up from school. Instead of learning my ABC’s and 123’s I now engage in though provoking discussions on the works of JD Salinger and the European philosophies of Jean Jacques Rousseau. I managed to fail another AP European History test today so I took the time to brace myself for an imminent earful from my dad. The very second I enter the car my dad begins lecturing me about college. “You can’t get into Harvard without a perfect unweighted 4.0 gpa.” he reminds me. “ Every time you mess up you jeopardize your future do you know that?” he asks me. I have heard this rhetorical question time and time again. By now, I know well enough not to answer because that lengthens the lecture by at least half an hour. Instead, I reply by perfunctorily looking out the window and up to the sky. “Stop rolling those eyes of yours. Mark my words, one day you will regret not listening to everything I told you.” He drones on interminably about my ungratefulness. He emphatically states that he does not pay $23,000 a year for me to socialize with my friends. For the umpteenth time he reminds me that I have a responsibility and a duty to achieve everything that he never had the chance to. “We came to this country to give you a better life, a life that we never had growing up and we are not going to let you make a complete and total waste of it.” He continues to disparage me with these heartening inspirational words. What was that well known phrase we all used to chant in grade school to our bullies?... Oh yes, now I remember, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. For me, this wise maxim proves rather difficult to live by at times. I feel that my heart has reached its limits, and its brittle fragmented pieces are incapable of bending over backwards like the flexible, perfect, plastic Barbies I once knew. I have played this game for so long now and it has barely changed except for the fact that I have grown much older now and I have a new toy in my possession called an IPod. Eventually I grow weary of hearing the same old song from the same old broken record. It’s time to press play, ear phones in, volume up, tuning out. He never listened to me, so why should I listen to him?




Join the Discussion


This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

ohteatoe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm:
Thanks I really appreciate that : )My parents can be so frustrating sometimes. Even if they really do want whats best for me I still wish they'd listen more instead of jamming all of their thoughts and concerns down my throat, I tried to capture that in the story.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Seelix said...
Mar. 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm:
You are an excellent writer. So many teenagers can relate to the feeling that their parents are living vicariously through (while still managing to care so little about) their children. You are so gifted, do not  let your parents iron it out of you.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback