Miguel Arias Sanchez
HAVANA TIMES — Today in Cuba, like in the rest of the world, children’s toys have nothing to do with what they once were in past eras.
Back in my day, we still held onto the excitement of the “three kings”, and the gifts they would bring, which was nothing more than a fantasy, but very nice for all the children who used to go to sleep on January 5th, waiting for the kings to arrive with their presents. A selection of toys would be in our homes at dawn: ball games, all different kinds of cars, toy guns, costumes of famous characters such as Superman or Batman and Robin; it would be impossible to name them all.
Then, what happened? Over time, and as technology advanced, first the beautiful fantasy began to be lost that children used to have when they would hug their mothers and go to sleep early, because if they didn’t the kings wouldn’t go to their houses and leave presents. Afterwards, toys also began to disappear off the national market in a disastrous era of crisis here in Cuba. And we lived with shortages for many years.
Today, you can find toys at some fairs, which are quite expensive by the way and of really poor quality a lot of the time, and at hard-currency stores for unaffordable prices which parents who live off of their wages or pension can’t afford. Now, mobile phones, tablets, laptops (generally sent by relatives who live in other countries) are useful for children to develop skills, and you can see small children palying all kinds of games for hours on end. Sometimes, these games don’t contribute to the child’s cultural education or development at all.
A toy is something a child, depending on their age, needs to have for their own entertainment and to have fun, while also learning something.
The other thing with this is that not everyone has the means to receive one of these as they don’t have family members living abroad and their parents can’t pay for them from their salaries. So, visible differences between children are created, who will then grow up and become the adults that move this country forward.
There are toys and toys, independent of the era, children are always the same and need to be able to dream, play, have fun and make their fantasies come to life. This is something that has become an extremely difficult task here in Cuba.