In the afternoon, sitting with your friends on “otla”(front porch), playing games, singing songs, laughing your hearts out, eating snacks, telling and listening to stories while the adults took their afternoon naps (siestas)!
Aaah, hearts and minds filled with wonder, curiosity, excitement and tranquility. These were my summers growing up in India. Many of you likely have similar caches of fond memories. We waited for the mailman to bring our report cards with such anxious minds and felt joy when we placed in the top of our class. Teachers wrote us letters in the summer, and that felt so special—we had the sense that they cared about each of us individually.
Summers, by their very essence, are meant to be carefree; a time to explore, feel loved, feel cool, eat yummy homemade treats, spend time cultivating friendships, relaxing at every turn, and have that much needed ‘downtime’ hallmarked by no plans and no schoolwork or homework.
Oh, the games we played. There was Kodi (a homemade version of Parcheesi), Kuka (a stone game you can learn on our website if you like), Satodiyu (a seven stones and ball game), Carrom Board, Cricket, Kho Kho, Kabbadi…. the list goes on. When we were bored with games, we made up our own skits with a director, actors, audience, props…. the whole thing.
What happened to this carefree version of childhood? My cousin in India says kids in India do not play these games. It seems the games are becoming extinct. Technology and screens have replaced the carefree, free-range days of sitting in one place, hallmarked by a lack of personal human contact and connection.
With diminishing connective experiences, what also flies out the window are opportunities to hone skills like how to make adjustments, learning to compromise, feeling a rainbow of emotions and taking into considerations the needs and desires of others, giving selflessly. How will this generation learn these things?
As parents, we have the responsibility of bringing moderation and boundaries to our children’s lives. To support your impulse to do this, here are some pitfalls that are easy to fall into and some guidance to help you be strong.
You may aspire to give your children all the wonderful things you didn’t have. Instead, how about considering giving them what you DID have?
Feeling Left Out
You probably want your kids to feel included—an integral and accepted part of their peer group. This sometimes looks like giving them all the gadgets everyone else has access to. Over time, you will come to see these provide merely temporary fulfillment of desires. Your children will thrive in society if instead what you give them is the ability to make real connections, to stand confident in who they are, and life skills that actually help them stand out from the crowd and possibly rise above it.
There is an illusion pervading society today that the inclusion of electronics is ‘educational’. All of this is so much more valuable than just staring at a screen. You may be surprised to discover that ‘staring at a screen’ whether it be TV, computer, pad or phone, actually is known to cause what is called cognitive dissonance: a state of stress caused by the fact that the brain is over stimulated with no physical outlet in the body. While watching TV has the appearance of being ‘relaxing’, it turns out the end result is exactly the opposite: it causes unreleased stress to build up.
Instead, take some time to reminisce your own childhood, and share the stories with your children and create ways for similar experiences to show up in their lives. For some inspiration, watch this beautifully done video by Santanu Maity and enjoy reconnecting with your children by creating your own “Indian Summers’ regardless where you live now.