Talking Down Memory Lane

You know how people say, everything old is new again? Well, at my house that is definitely the case! For a couple of years now I’ve been waiting for my daughter to be the right age to enjoy playing with my childhood toys. I wanted her to be able to use my toys for imaginative play and exploration. I didn’t care if she used them the way they were intended or not because I just wanted her to have fun while playing with the toys like I did as a child.

And fun is exactly what she had! The first toys she really took an interest in were my rather large Barbie collection. These dolls were my absolute favorite toys growing up. I loved pretty much any doll, but my Barbies were special. My sister is 6 years older than me. When I was little, I wanted to be able to play with her and her friends, but I always ended up being the annoying little sister that tagged along. They never let me play Barbies with them, which I REALLY wanted to be allowed to do.

Memory Lane 1Once my sister had moved on to different toys, she let me have her Barbies. I was still in that phase and was SO excited to finally get to play with them. In her collection she also had Donnie and Marie Osmond dolls. I unfortunately wrote all over Marie with blue pen when I was very little. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why my sister never let me play with her Barbies! Anyway, Donnie was the only male doll that I had, so he got renamed to Ken as soon as he was mine.

My grandma knew how much I loved my Barbies, so being the awesome seamstress she was; she sewed clothes for the dolls. She even made me a couple of matching outfits to wear. Yes, you just read that correctly. I had outfits that matched my Barbies!

So when I drug out my container of Barbies for my daughter to play with, I was very excited to watch her have fun with them like I did. What I didn’t expect though, was how much fun I myself would have with her as well. I didn’t realize how many memories my silly Barbies made for me as a child. I mean after all, they were just dolls.

Dolls that made me remember things from my childhood though. For instance, my daughter grabbed my favorite Barbie one evening. This particular Barbie was awesome in the 80’s, with earrings AND a ring. As soon as my daughter started playing with her, I instantly thought about the dress that I always used to put on her. I dug through the tub of dolls and voilà, I found the dress! Blue pleats, floor length, and just as regal as it was when I was little!

Each time my daughter pulled out another Barbie from the container, I talked to her and told her what outfits I always put on each doll. I told her stories about the outfits my grandma made and how special those outfits still are to me. I showed her Donnie Osmond and told her that he had a sister, but that mommy had been naughty and wrote all over her. My daughter’s eyes got huge and she continued to just stare at me in wonder, soaking up every story and memory I told her.

Memory Lane 2That evening and many evenings after that, both of us had a ton of fun playing with the dolls. We played for long periods of time making up stories of them dressing up for a party and living together in the dollhouse. I showed my daughter outfits and accessories and she asked me questions about other toys I had when I was little. I told her that someday I will get out the box of Cabbage Patch dolls, my Strawberry Shortcake collection, and my awesomely 80’s Rainbow Brite set. Just talking to her about the toys I have stored away in our basement brought a smile to my face and to hers as well.

I never expected to share so many stories about toys with my daughter. I didn’t even know that my toys held such a special place in my heart and were so connected to many happy memories from my childhood. I’m so glad that I was able to talk myself and my daughter down memory lane and I can’t wait to do more of it in the future. It’s true, everything old is new again and now we are going to make NEW memories together with my OLD toys.

Melissa was born and raised right here in Iowa. Although she grew up in southwest Iowa (about as close to Missouri and Nebraska as you can get!), she has called eastern Iowa home for 15 years. She and her husband Eric live in North Liberty, along with their 4 year-old daughter Kennedy. Melissa attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her BA in Early Childhood Special Education and her MAE in K-6 Learning Disabilities. She currently teaches kindergarten for the Clear Creek Amana School District, where she has taught for 14 years. In her spare time, Melissa loves to be outside playing or working on projects in their yard, spending time with family and friends, and baking up goodies for her family. She also enjoys taking walks with their two dogs, plump beagle Lenny and shy dachshund-beagle mix Cooper. Life as a full-time working mommy keeps her very busy, but Melissa wouldn't have it any other way!


  1. I never had nor liked Barbies when I was a girl. But watching K play with them and telling me how to play with them has sparked a weird kind of interest! The clothes and accessories are what intrigue me the most. Such detail! And being a(former) seamstress myself, I was impressed with your grandma’s skill at making such cool outfits! Here’s to many more Barbie parties with K!


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