I have been reading Laying Down the Rails–with much enjoyment, I might add. I have a question about one of Charlotte’s quotes from Vol. 1, p. 131, which states, “Nothing vulgar in the way of print, picture-book, or toy should be admitted [to the nursery]–nothing to vitiate a child’s taste or introduce a strain of commonness into his nature.”
I know word meanings change over the years, and especially throughout time from country to country. In Charlotte’s day, what would’ve been considered “vulgar in the way of print, picture-book, or toy”?
In translation, what would you consider to be “vulgar” in today’s time? I may be naive, but surely CM wasn’t implying that parents in those days were giving their children perverted or lewd toys and books. Also, I’m positive the parents on this site do not allow any of those sorts of things into their homes either.
So, two questions:
1. What were “vulgar” toys and books in CM’s day?
2. If CM were living now, what sorts of toys and books would she classify as “vulgar”?
I’m just really curious to know what this word meant then, and what word we might use instead now.
Lindsey, at the time “vulgar” would have also carried a meaning of low or common or coarse, as opposed to edifying or high-class. So “vulgar” toys or books would have been cheaply done, crude, poorly done, mawkish, overly sentimental, the opposite of edifying or uplifting–instead coarse or coarsening. I might draw fire for this, but I can’t help but think that if Charlotte could see Spongebob Squarepants books, she’d think them vulgar. :-) Or all the endless movie tie-in products. Happy Meal toys. :-) The dumb little 99 cent books they sell in supermarkets on ultra-cheap paper with bad art and miserable text. Black velvet posters of dogs playing poker. LOL All the cheap, cheesy junk that surrounds us now. So we might today say “junk” or “trash” or “cheap” or “cheesy”.
LOL!! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about all that junk, Bookworm. I was also thinking of Transformers and the like too.
I’m also glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about SpongeBob. We have never let our kids watch that. Also, we don’t buy books that are based on movies or cartoon characters, but my ds does love Buzz Lightyear… (Tongue in cheek here.)
Ok good. Vulgar=cheap, cheesy, junk, trash, twaddle, coarse, and crude. You’ve answered my questions!
O.K., so I have a question that is sort of a continuation to this subject. What toys do you let your kids play with. My Son really wants Transformer action figures. A friend of ours has them and he loves that you can take them apart and turn them into something else. Also, when I was a girl, I played with barbies. Is that bad? I loved making a whole little miniature family out of them. I made my own furniture and and set up the house and made the barbie “Moms” rearange the furniture and acted out whole scenes of parenting and little “family moments”. Now my daughters do the same things. Would Charlotte consider Barbies “vulgar”?
Back in our day, Linabean, Barbie was something we used to act our parenting roles (I even had a Ken but he slept in a separate bos!). Barbie had decent clothing that actually covered her body and was a career type woman with classic clothing, nice shoes and briefcases, nursing outfits and so on. I think it is up to the parent to regulate not only what her child plays with, but how she plays with it. I remember making things for my Barbies too (my mom sewed them outfits on her sewing machine) and we used our imaginations!1 That’s what is missing from the toys of today – they don’t require imagination, problem-solving or anything…just push a button! Boy, sorry about all that…as you can see it’s a hot topic with me….now where were we?
I agree with cheryl. The Barbie of today is a different woman than she was even 10 years ago. It’s very difficult to even find modest Barbie clothing.
Linabean, allowing Barbies isn’t a problem, I don’t believe. What’s the difference in a Barbie doll or a baby doll? They’re both dolls. But, as cherylramirez said, it’s all in how they’re played with and what clothes they’re wearing.
I have the Transformer question too. My son LOVES transformers and has 3 of them. They’re not particularly my favorite of his toys, but he can take one apart and build it back over and over again, especially when we’re in the car.
I have been convicted of this “toy crisis” lately, which is why I asked the initial question. My ds is your typical boy; he loves action figures and super heroes. I don’t really care for them, but then again, I don’t know what else to let him play with. He does love blocks and legos and toy dinosaurs and cars, but he also loves Buzz Lightyear, Batman, Spiderman, and Transformers.
What to do?…
I know what you mean. It’s hard to explain to little boys why we don’t think these are the best chioces for toys. My son usually replies with something like, ” but they are GOOD GUYS! They protect people and help them!” One thing that I have tried to do recently with him is when he shows interest in something that I do really approve of (for us it was an interest in knights) I try to encourage it as much as possible and try to replace the others with these new ones. We are learning as much as we can about noble knights. What they stood for, truth, justice, good etc. So we got him a playmobile castle with knight figurines and an interactive book on knights with projects that he can do. He is only 5 so we don’t really go into the fact that there were bad knight as well. We just say that if the knights didn’t live by the code of conduct that all knights were given then they were not allowed to be knights anymore. I do think, though, that toys nowadays are getting trashy. Some of the boys toys out there look downright evil!
Thank you for answering the Barbie question. I always did supervise how my girls played with them and what kind of clothes they wear. I found the safest thing to let the barbies wear are long, ball gown type dresses! It’s not exactly normal housewife attire, but it is modest and the girls think that they are beautiful! Other than that most “sets” of barbie clothing are rather inappropriate. It is better to sew your own clothes for them. It’s a nice little project for the girls to help with as well. My mother did this with me when I was a girl. We also have a “no naked barbies rule” in our house. For my girls I find that this reinforces modesty with them. If it isn’t even appropriate for dolls to not wear enough clothing then it certainly isn’t good for girls and women to not wear enough clothing! They are only allowed to take off the barbie clothing if they are changing them into something else. They may not be left wearing no clothes! Some people laugh at me for these kinds of rules and think that they are silly but I think it leaves a lasting immpression on your children and that is what I am going for! Thanks for the discussion ladies. Nice chatting with you!
I really like the knight idea! My ds also loves pirate stuff, even though the only exposure he has to pirates is Hook on Peter Pan. My dh and I are happy to get rid of the few toys that are “vulgar” and even replace them, if only my ds weren’t so sentimental about it. I can’t even get rid of baby toys unless I do it without him knowing, and he’s almost 6! Just today, I was cleaning out many of his unused toys and some toys and books I don’t care for. He was so upset. We’ve already had the other-kids-who-don’t-have-toys-would-really-enjoy-yours-to-play-with discussion. I don’t get very far.
All that said, if anyone knows how to deal with this sentimentality, I’d really appreciate it. One thing I do not want is to raise selfish kids. Or kids who think Transformers are the coolest things ever.
P.S. I don’t even know how he knows about Transformers or Batman or Superman. He’s never seen the movies!How does that happen???
I love this topic. It’s so nice to hear that we’re not the only ones who refuse to let our kids watch Spongebob and shows of that nature! My husband’s family thinks we are so weird, we’ve gone round and round with them. We also dislike Barbie and hopefully his family will abide and not get our girls any… I also can’t stand any electronic toys and yet every Christmas or birthday they would show up with some vtech toy or electonic something or other. I even passed on what our speech therapist (Shaoey was cleft lip/palate, so speech issues) told us about how detrimental they can be to speech and using imagination and thinking. FINALLY this Christmas was the first Christmas with NO electronics!!
I’m not sure how I feel about the superhero stuff. My boys watch the old cartoons (I know, not the best, but it’s fun time to lay with dad and watch netflix cartoons) with spiderman and justice league, etc… Thankfully they aren’t obsessed with it, so it hasn’t been an issue. They just have a few figures that they battle with and incorporate into their plastic army men. They are sooo into Legos and coin collecting.
Just so happy to hear other’s suggestions!!
Ok.. so we don’t do cartoons, and I hate Sponge Bob. (Now my dh thinks he’s fine .. so we have a bit of different oppions there).
Now the boys and toys here are not a problem. Per say. But what would you do if you have a son who is 3.5 and is in LOVE with Thomas the Train? Or boys who are in LOVE with Star Wars “legos”, they will build and play all day if I would let them.
Or let’s change this a bit.. if you don’t mind.. does this mean you don’t let your kids watch disney movies? Only christian ones? Cause for us.. if we see it first and nothing pops out at us and we’ve looked at all the pros/cons then we decided what they watch. Just wondering thoughts on that one.
I love that we can come together and see where people stand on thoughts/ideas.
tanc.. why don’t you let them play with leapsters etc? Is it just an electronic thing? Cause for us we find them very educational options for in the car (which is the only place they play) with all the math games, ABC, etc? Just wondering.
I’m so with you on the electronic stuff! I told all of our family this year: “If it has to have batteries, don’t buy it!” And they were surprisingly cooperative. My mom also thinks we’re kind of strange for not letting our kids watch certain TV shows, but she has finally stopped sharing her “opinion” on the matter. I hate cartoons too. Before we knew anything about CM, I allowed my kids (who were then 3 and 4) to watch Dora, Diego, Little Einsteins, etc, and I regret it to this day. They still ask if they can watch those shows!
Iamasahm, I don’t think Leapsters are necessarily “bad”. Our nephews have Leapsters that they are only allowed to play with during car trips and plane rides (they live 1300 miles away from us). Unfortunately, there are those parents who allow to much electronic time with other things like Wii, PlayStation, Nintendo, and the like and not enough time outside or playing with more educational toys like blocks, Legos, etc.
What’s wrong with Thomas? The man who wrote the stories was a reverend, I believe. And to me, Legos are Legos, whether they have Star Wars on them or not. Now, would I buy the Star Wars Legos over the regular ones? Probably not. But if you already have them, I don’t see any reason to get rid of them. Do your sons only like Star Wars Legos, or are they happy to play with any kind?
I’m actually pretty proud of our censorship of books. It’s just the toys that I don’t know how to change. It’s like, before we knew any better, we allowed this stuff into our home. And now I don’t know how to get it out without breaking tender hearts!
I love the older super heros, “Truth, Justice and the American way!” I know it is probably twaddle but we have a 4 disc Looney Tunes set that my children (7 and 12) just LOVE to watch. These are the same cartoons I grew up with! Cartoons nowadays are so violent, crude and insinuate things that children have no business thinking about (ala Sponge Bob and Bikini Bottom!) Super hero things are a constant struggle for me too! My husband pointed out that he’s a little boy and his taste would be different than his sister’s. I do remember my brother and all his friends were really into Superman, Batman and all that jazz and they all turned out to be responsible adults! I really like the idea of knight too.
As for Disney, that is something else I get all worked up about! I know you are probably tired of hearing me say, “In my day…” But Disney was a different company back then…you could trust anything Disney and not have to worry. Those days are long gone! I am very weary of anything that comes from Disney. I saw the move “Toy Story” when I was single and childless and I loved it. I bought it for my first child and was appalled at the rude behavior and disrectful speech (the word “idiot” is used at least a million times!) Same with “Cars” we do have this one and he gets to watch it a couple of times a year, however he has stopped asking for it. Yay!
They espcially love “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet” and things like that! There’s a travel video called “Over Alaska” that’s a favorite too. Ihave noticed that the children’s movie market has improved recently. We also have the set of Moody science videos. My daughter’s favorite is the one where the scientist has electricity coming out of his fingers! I have purchased the Desperaux (sp) movie. It’s very beautifully illustrated and the title credits are breathtaking. As with everything one just has to be discerning with video entertainment. They are not permitted to watch much television, just the Weather Channel and TLC when the “18 Kids and Counting” show comes on. I just love that family. She has 18 children and has never raised her voice…I only have two and…
I so agree with you about Disney movies. You even have to be careful with the older ones (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty-which our kids are not allowed to watch). The new Disney movie that just came out, The Princess and The Frog–we had some friends take their daughter to see it, and even the adults were appalled by the witchcraft in that movie.
Our kids love Planet Earth. And we no longer have any kind of television programming, but when we did, we loved to watch 18 Kids and Counting. If only I could spend a week w/ Michelle Duggar…
Has anyone thought of any ways I can get rid of toys without breaking my kids’ hearts? I’m still stumped on that one!
I have thought about the Leapsters.
Coming from a Montessori background and pre CM, I still new I didn’t want this stuff, but caved and let the boys get handheld games for our trips to China… I mean they were good for the trips and quite the lifesavers, but it’s dealing with it at home. I appear to be one of the more strict moms of my friends, as they can only play for 1 hour on Friday and 1 hour on Saturday, unless they do some serious work to earn extra time! Then the problem comes when the subsequent children come along and see brothers playing… that’s the one reason I’m thinking of a Leapster. Dh’s family was buying all the different Vtech things, electronic cash registers (not one, but 2 b/c we have 2 girls???? Hello, ever heard of sharing?), the list goes on and on.
I think my biggest problem is dealing with the repercussions of getting stuff and then seeing that I want to undo what I’ve done! LOL
Also, how do y’all work it when you feel one way and your husband is less restrictive than you are? That’s a biggie in our house. Example–I am against anything leaning toward witchcraft in movies, etc, but dh doesn’t see a problem with movies like the Princess and the Frog for example.
Oh and Star Wars Legos…my boys ARE addicted to them… One son has Aspergers and he has to make them and then he doesn’t like to take them apart. They HAVE to be made the way they were suppose to be… Anyone else with an Aspie? I’ll ask that in another, b/c he’s driving me bonkers!
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