Now that I’m over the hill…. err… past my teens and twenties, I often find myself reminiscing about my childhood and marveling about how different it was compared to my sons’! I also find myself drawn into conversations about our collective childhood experiences with folks of the same age group.
This weekend was another nostalgia fest! I was chatting with a couple I met at a birthday party, and while watching the kids squealing with laughter in a giant jumper organized by the host, we remarked how different our own birthday parties were, and from there we started on our journey back in time about how different it all was!
I’m sure most of us have had the same experiences. Summer holidays with our siblings and cousins, playing cricket, and hopscotch and kabbadi and all kinds of outdoor games; waiting for the ice-cream wallah and hoping against hope that our dads would buy us a cone; indulging in long games of Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders or Ludo; and of course, watching Doordarshan!
Of all the looking-back series, I realize how much of a role Doordarshan played in our lives! No matter how much we cursed the channel back then, now all we can recall is fond memories of Chitrahaar, Ramayan, Mahabharata, the Sunday movies, Buniyaad, Hum Log and the many others we watched!
After this love fest, the couple whom I was talking to then remarked about how unfortunate it is that our children did not get the benefit of being born back in the good old days. It was at this stage that I paused. It’s not that I haven’t heard this line before. I hear it a lot with my generation nowadays of how spoilt our kids are and how wonderful our own childhood has been despite not having a zillion of the comforts that today’s youth has.
But, I also remember hearing the same standard lines being uttered by my own adult relatives when I was a child! The harkening back to old bygone days when they didn’t have TV, when they only listened to the radio, or maybe to their moms and grand-moms telling them stories… heck! They didn’t even have running water, but those days were golden and they wished that we too could have had all the benefits of living in that era instead of the one we enjoyed. And, I remember thinking, “No thanks! Sounds like a major snore fest!” I may or may not have called them grumpy old fogies in my head!
My point is that children, for the most part, do enjoy their childhood, no matter which era! We enjoyed ours and did not miss any of video game playing or the latest electronic achievements of the past decade simply because they did not exist and so, we were not aware of them! But, do we not use them extensively now? If we were so against technology, then why do most of us Facebook and tweet? Haven’t we made meaningful relationships with our blog readers and others online? And, how many of us only have Doordarshan as our primary channel nowadays?
It’s not that I advocate our kids being left with their Wii’s and Nintendo DS’s all day. I completely agree with all the Parentous articles published so far of limiting our children’s online time and allowing for ‘real world experiences’! And, ‘real life friends’ will always be more special, no matter what! But, I dislike having to join the ranks of the ‘grumpy old fogies’!
Children will enjoy themselves, no matter if you hand them an electronic device or an old cardboard box! We can decide what we wish them to enjoy most of the time, but I balk against limiting them completely or having unrealistic expectations of them playing with one and not the other. I chafe against this presumption on our part, similar to how I chafed against the grownups of my childhood, that somehow our childhood was the best and the youngsters of today are to be pitied! The only pity I would feel is for kids who have had no childhood.
Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta and is now living in California. Her two rambunctious boys, Big A, age 8, and Little a, age 4, are the main subjects of her blog (http://www.bigaandlittlea.com) and she can be found tweeting away (@RoshniAaMom) in her free time (you may well ask, what free time?!)