Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Normally, summers are different in our family. This summer I decided to come up with an inimitable way to make it even more different and give a unique summer respite to those tech-tired minds of my kids.
Instead of my kids visiting grandparents during summers, our home normally becomes the hub for a great family get-together. Those ten-fifteen days are not only much awaited through the year but also, irrefutably, the best! Although my kids are excited to meet and interact with their extended family, they still end up huddling with their cousins to play video games or watch TV/videos on smart devices.
As kids, our generation never had the technology to interrupt our childhood and we had simple, ingenious ways to learn, play and grow. I grew up playing traditional games like Pallanguzhi (Alu guli mane), Chouka Barah, Gutte, Chor-Police, Lock-and- key, and Lagori, to mention a few. They provided a means to train our senses; enhance fine-motor and gross motor skills; and, improve logic, planning, scheming, teamwork, interpersonal and decision-making skills. It is what I would like to call a holistic and natural development of children. All of these are either cut-short or eliminated due to technology and other modern day demands.
It was with this thought that I decided to revisit these simple, yet, effective ways to engage children while also igniting and sharpening various skill-sets. My elder one was already putting a few hours of the day to good use by attending a sports summer camp and I wanted her to enjoy the rest of the day with her cousins in a unique and productive way.
I searched online for some traditional board games and ordered Chouka Barah, Pallanguzhi and a few others. As the kids saw them arrive, they were quite skeptical and even unenthusiastic to open them, let alone play with it.
I was not the one to force them to play, was I? I didn’t even have to! As soon as I unpacked the board games, the next thing I knew was that I heard a lot of chatter, giggles, and laughter not from my kids but from their Aunts who, in a flash, had not only revisited their best memories but had become kids themselves.
Although the enthusiasm was initially confusing to my kids, it was very infectious. Our kids couldn’t understand how such simple things can bring about such excitement!
We elders started playing right away while our kids watched us having fun. It took a while for them to realize that even non-tech games can also give as much adrenaline rush, thrill, and entertainment, much like their video games and TV shows. Finally, they decided to give it a try.
The fun was contagious and it was just the beginning.
The thrill was real, the satisfaction of strategizing and winning the game was surreal and it brought about a high that they had not experienced before. They were dealing with real people, real problems, making some real strategies and were face-to- face with opponents. Winning the game thus became more personal, tangible, electrifying and fun, in its purest form. Those were the perfect ingredients to get them unhooked from technology.
For once, I didn’t mind them bunching up in corners with cousins and playing games for hours! They discovered what childhood meant to us, while we fondly enlivened our best memories. As we played as a family, what I espied beyond my mesmerized kids was the strengthening of family bonds.
When I ordered Pallanguzhi, they started playing the game with ground nuts which used to break easily. They thought hard for a couple of days, tried using various pulses, googly eyes and various other things as pawns. Finally, they decided on date seeds. Today after a few weeks, for the love of the game, my kids have collected about 100 date seeds out of their own accord. They generally sulk to eat dates every morning and now, they began to voluntarily pull out a few dates, just to collect them for their game. I guess each game has its own side-effect and this one surely was good!
Everybody carries their special childhood memories with them even as adults and I want my kids to etch these golden moments vividly into their minds. I positively hope these moments will help them discover the world outside their virtual realities and act as a reminder to have a broader vision of a family when they start their own. It will help them to value the charm that the simplicity of a non-tech life and close family relationships can add to one’s life.