Earlier last week, I discovered the equation to making a grown man cry. “Lice and nits?” You may ask? Heavens no! The Great Lice and Nit invasion of 2013 conveniently coincided with North Dakota Deer opener, and those sporting orange barely noticed the constant washing, drying, cleaning and literal nit picking.
A couple days before the start of the nit invasion, I came to learn that if you take numerous vintage old toy tractors, (most still in the box), a craft scissors, and a 3 year old with an considerable amount of determination, the end result is a grown man in (almost) tears. As we stood surveying the damage, looking down at our son with disappointment painted on our faces, he slowly turned his eyes upward to us, and said, “…What?”
As we were putting them back in their newly redesigned boxes, I was amazed at how heavy they were. These were real toys. Toys that lasted for years. In fact, some of them had been his dad’s toys. They were metal and not the plastic junk made today. These tractors had survived almost 40 years. Our son’s John Deere tractor lasted exactly 2 days after last Christmas before the axle broke. They don’t make stuff like they used to, and I think I’ve stumbled upon an unexplored reason of childhood obesity!
If I take the dog out to do her business at night and were to walk into a modern day pedal tractor, it would skitter across the garage floor and stop. Now if I were to run my foot into my husband’s John Deere pedal tractor, after my tears and expletives stopped flowing, the next stop would probably be X-Rays and/or stitches. Stuff was HEAVY when we were kids! It takes a lot of energy for my three year old to pedal that beast around. Think of all the calories we burned if we wanted to move our field of tractors from the living room to the dining room! You could only carry one at a time. Girls were not immune from the weight of things. Whatever latex/probably-now-carcinogenic/rubber that our baby dolls were made of gave them weight! If you were one of the lucky girls to get a Baby Alive, with her strange squishy vinyl limbs, you really burned your calories. Feed her a bottle of water, and she even became heavier, and then you really amped your calorie burn when she filled her diaper. We didn’t have to watch what we ate because we had toys!
Everything now is made for speed and aerodynamics. Bikes are made of space age materials and are light enough to lift with one hand. My pink Huffy bike, with its flowered basket (that no animal would EVER stay in, despite my attempts) had two speeds: slow and standing up. There were no gears to ease up the hills. There were playing cards in the spokes however that mimicked the sound of gears. I’m pretty sure our softball bats were lined with lead, and concrete shoes would have been lighter than wet moon boots. Though the roller racers we used in gym class didn’t take much energy to operate, the sheer anxiety we put ourselves in, anticipating running over our fingers at any moment, surely amped up our metabolism.
My theory doesn’t just end in childhood however. Once we got our drivers license, I can guarantee it took many more friends to push a 1979 Pontiac Grand Safari Station Wagon out of the snow than it does a Kia. And when your older brother is bequeathed that vehicle, it took even more friends to budge a 1964 Cadillac Sedan Deville. As teens, just wearing our clothes took more energy. I have no research that backs up the weight of material now versus then, but there was more volume to our clothes. Pirate shirts, high waisted jeans, brocade vests, and any prom dress from 1970-1990 are perfect examples of heftier clothing. And then there was our hair….. it took a lot of neck muscles to carry around the coifs of the 1980’s and 90’s… a lot of muscle and a lot of Aqua Net. My own personal experience that backs this notion is that I cut my hair into a very short style in 9th grade. I subsequently gained 20 pounds before 10th grade. It wasn’t puberty. It was the hair.
As I watch my 3 year old grunt and pedal the vintage pedal tractor, I think, besides his 85 pound brother sitting in the tractor trailer, there has to be something to this theory of mine. Maybe I’m way off, but I don’t think so. Things then had mass. Steal was our unknown diet aide. Toys were made to last for years… that is until a three year old comes along.