As a little girl growing up, my two best friends were both boys. I did have dolls to play with but the influence of my male friends meant that I also had a fondness for tree climbing and the more traditionally 'boy' toys.
One of my treasured possessions was my Matchbox car collection. I may have had very little appreciation of make and model and horsepower, but I loved the colours and shapes and designs.
Not many of my childhood treasures followed me into adult life but my Matchbox cars in their collectors case, marked with my name in indelible ink to claim it as mine, did.
It never took pride of place, it was just tucked away and forgotten until I stumbled upon it from time to time. It truly was like discovering a secret portal back to my childhood every time I opened the lid and gazed upon the familiar die-cast metal contents.
When I had children of my own, the cars were offered as playthings. Each of my four oldest daughters now has a memory of discovering mummy's toys and maybe connecting with the child I once was.
As my girls outgrew toy cars, the collection was once more packed away.
After the irretrievable breakdown of my first marriage, I had a ruthless sort out to prepare for moving from the family home and starting a new life. The car collection did not fall victim to my streamlining. I saved them for the day when future grandchildren would visit and I could say to them "These cars belonged to granny when she was little girl."
Little did I know that my new life would include the miracle of two more children of my own.
My older girls were as excited as I was when the car collection saw the light of day again for their siblings to enjoy.
My fifth child was another daughter and it was something of a surprise to me with child number six, to give birth to a son. He is not yet two years old but it has already given me such pleasure to experience the world through his eyes. The way he plays is so fundamentally different to the way my little girl plays. In the example of the toy cars, she will name each of them and have them make friends and go on adventures. He will park them in neat lines then zoom them across the room with suitably enthusiastic 'brooming' sound effects! He loves wheels - spinning them and gleefully shouting "Whee-yals".
My Matchbox cars are taking a serious hammering in the hands of my son. He is really a little young to be playing with toys with 'small parts' but he absolutely delights in them. Six little girls (myself included in that number) have used them in their games with very little deterioration in their condition. One little boy, in a very short time, has bent axles, dislodged windscreens and removed large chunks of paintwork. These cars that spanned a generation, will not survive another. My future grandchildren will not hear those imagined words "These cars belonged to...."
I am not sad about this. When I see my little boy heading purposefully off, crying "Tars! Tars! Tars!" (he isn't good with the 'c' sound!) I can't help thinking that my Matchbox collection has waited 40 years to be played with exactly like this.