My sister and I never had a dress up box. As immigrants, my parents had any idea what the heck a dress up box was. They were just happy to be able to feed and clothe us. I don’t remember having a lot of toys until we were much older. Both of my parents worked a lot so my sister and I were left to our own devices quite often.
We didn’t have cable tv so we couldn’t sit for hours in front of the boob tube. What did we do? We played pretend. I’m not sure if the pretend games we played were games other kids in our generation played at our age. As first generation Vietnamese-Americans, we drew upon what we knew.
My parents loved watching the equivalent of Asian telenovellas. Along with my cousins, we pretend we were flying kung-fu super heroes of ancient China (most of the films were Chinese dubbed in Vietnamese). In this world, women warriors kicked ass just as well as the men. Sometimes even better. We took turns saving each other. We fought pretend villains. It was kind of like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but better.
Instead of tea parties, we got “drunk.” These same kung-fu warriors fearlessly travel the dangerous world of ancient China. When they reached a city, they stopped at an inn for a bite to eat and drink rice wine. So my sister and I poured water into teapots or sake-type bottles and drank “wine” out of teeny tiny cups. Sometimes we would pretend to be drunk (like some of the warrior-heroes) and “fall” out of our chairs.
I’m glad I missed out on the princess craze until I was much older. In fact, my first Disney Princess movie was The Little Mermaid. I grew up watching these strong female characters kick ass and take charge of their destiny. Of course there were always damsels in distress but I couldn’t stand hearing them whine. The women warriors were tough yet feminine. Some were even tomboys. And it was all ok.
I’m glad that we didn’t have a lot of tv and toys growing up. My sister and I made up our own games. We imagined many different worlds and characters together.
In The Costume Trunk, Courtney and her friends discovers the magical world of Paddywhack Lane where all they need is their imagination to have fun. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. You can read other members’ posts inspired by The Costume Trunk by Bob Fuller on book club day, July 28 at From Left to Write.