I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. Dad was a taxi driver (and still is). Mom was a housewife (and still is).
We weren’t exactly living from hand-to-mouth, and there was always food on the table if we wanted to eat. But needless to say, we couldn’t afford all those fancy-schmancy toys that the other kids would grow up with.
What my dad would do was to bring home boxes. Cardboard boxes. Sometimes, the external packaging of all those fancy-schmancy toys that he couldn’t afford to buy for me.
I didn’t think I was deprived of anything. Far from it. From those humble cardboard boxes I could make race cars, spaceships and castles. I could spend hours upon hours making my own toys out of these humble boxes.
In fact, why stop at cardboard boxes? I made heavy use of the styrofoam packaging as well.
Styrofoam packaging like the one above could turn into all sorts of things. It could turn into a secret villain’s lair , for instance. One room could be the conference room, and another could be the armoury. Then I would have a group of ‘good guys’ breaching the exterior walls and engaging the bad guys in a shootout.
Don’t get me wrong; I was like any other kid who wished for Nerf guns and Transformers toys. And sometimes I did resent at having to play with the packaging of toys instead of the actual toys themselves. But I also do recall engaging in hours of fun with said packaging.
And I like to think that in some way, playing with all that packaging put me on the path to becoming a full-fledged mechanical engineer. Yeah, sure, it would be nice to play with a huge Mighty Max Skull Mountain playset…..
…. but I also like to think that my DIY villain’s lairs were at least just as much fun to put together. Those hours of messing around with cardboard boxes were more than just about messing up the house (sorry, Mom!); they would prove to be priceless instruction about how to make the best of things.
I am trying to inculcate these ideas into my kids, and it does seem to be working.
If you still do not understand the utility of a cardboard box over an actual toy playset, I recommend reading the following children’s book: