“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.”
Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides
When I was a little girl I had crayons and imagination but today’s performing geniuses only seem to have laptops, Video games, X-box, portable music players, Television and Internet. While I took pride in my collection of pebbles, marbles etc kids today flaunt their gadgets. Six year old Suhas is addicted to his iPad. His life revolves around it. He throws a bizarre tantrum when told to keep it aside and parents give in just to calm him down. Now I am not against technology but I feel that there is a loss of innocence and wonder in today’s children.
There is now a whole industry of mobile software developers competing to help people scratch the entertainment itch. There are no long relaxing hours for mind.body and soul but micro moments filled with these gadgets which fatigue more than relax the kids.
I asked little Raghav if he read the story book I gave on his Birthday and he sheepishly replied. ” No, it’s too big. I saw the movie on Video.” Similarly, Abha finds it easy to read some recommended story on YouTube in 6 min rather than “wasting” time on a thick book.
It broke my heart but that’s the trend these days. Children prefer the immediate gratification.
Vaibhav’s life is like a chat room. He has hundreds of friends on the three social networking sites he is member of. Virtual life gives him a kick. I asked him if he would like to visit the science center and some other places on a Sunday, he refused. Reason- He had fixed some poker game challenge on Facebook and had to catch up with his friends. His blackberry continues to beep at all times. “It’s comforting to be connected to those who love you , you see “, he says with a warm smile. I asked him about his family and real-time friends. “They are boring”. Like Pavlov’s dog he runs to his cell every time it beeps.
I did not want to go into the details of how technology has dug its talons into our the very core of our being but sitting on the grassy slope on this beautiful winter day I remembered how we precious those simple joys of our childhood are. I watch ten-year old Ria, oblivious to the flowers and birds around her, tugging at her mom’s purse for the mobile to play.
I don’t think we can blame the children for getting lured into this tech trap. It is parental responsibility to create a balance. I think life was beautiful when it was simple.
I miss so many things I did as a child. Things I long to do but inhibitions stop me. I posed a question on FB today, At what age does going nude cross the line from joyful to uncomfortable? And, does that age then represent a certain kind of turning point in life, in our relationship to joy? I had read it somewhere and it stayed with me. Speaks volume doesn’t it?
Some of the beautiful memories are fairy tales from the backyard where I buried my treasures, the joy of hiding little things which at that time seemed priceless. The shells, colorful pebbles that were so painstakingly collected and carefully placed in old shoe boxes.
Running barefoot in the rain in the lawn , on the terrace, in the field , carefree and brimming with joy , splashing water with the toes full of mud and weeds. Making paper boats and watching them zigzag through the water streaming through the lanes.
Climbing on the trees and sitting for hours observing the world beneath, legs swinging to some unheard music.
Playing marbles, hopscotch and other local games till I was forced retreat to the comforts of home. Dirty sneakers, elastic running from socks, a bruise here and there, hair ruffled ready to face the howler which would split open along with the front door in shape of my mom.
Making tents out of sheets and blankets over the furniture and escaping into a magical world lit by torch, pretending to be gypsy child. Here a whole new world waited to explode. Boxes and bottles of magic potions , trinkets which could charm any heart, rag dolls and colors and a candy box with gummy bears, jujubes, lemon drops, candy sticks and much more. Sometimes there were half eaten cookies too. 🙂
Those moments of sheer bliss when I wasn’t so wise to the rulings of the world. Playing chess with dad, listening to his childhood stories. Those summer nights when the electricity would go and we would sit in the darkness playing “Radio station ” where I would be the radio station playing music, commercials and dad would in between say ” change the channel” I would voice over everything and his warm laugh would fill my little heart.
The day I learned to whistle from the blade of grass life suddenly changed. It was fun to make music in the most natural way. I also learned to make a musical instrument of sorts from dried mango seed. It was a cultivated talent to make different sounds from these lovely instruments.
When the silk cotton tree bloomed and the cotton puffs sailed along with the breeze I would run after them and collect them to fill little pillow/quilt for the doll. It was fun to catch a drifting soft cotton, resembling a snow flake, and softly blow it away. Blowing a Dandelion puff would fill the air with little dancing stars and make the heart skip a beat.
I loved making soap-bubble and ran with the bubble wands, made of wire hangers or straw and threads, as the breeze made it dance to its tune. It was a dream fantasy to watch a delicate bubble escape from the wand and waltz along the breeze with millions of rainbow colors.
Crayons ,water colors, pencils and papers, colored chalk (have you ever nibbled on the chalk or got sprayed with a duster full of chalk dust) would keep me warmed for hours. My box of wax crayons and later the oil pastels was a wonder world where each color told a story. I found immense joy in coloring and later watching my boys color their world with imagination was pure bliss.
Another thing I miss is the fun I had racing down the road rolling the old cycle tyre with a stick. There would be races in the lanes and by lanes as we maneuvered the wobbly tyre and ran at top speed to beat the others screaming with glee. Same was with bicycle races where one usually emerged bruised and sometimes with torn and muddy clothes. Tyres remind me of something I long to do even now. Hang and swing to the improvised swings made with thick old tyres. It was The Thing to do on a summer day and sometime when I watch the village kids screeching and screaming while they swirl around on the swing my just want to rush and join them.
Those were the days when one didn’t care about the our sexuality, dresses, looks, time, season, anything. The dirtier the better. A little disorder in the dress was the joy of being a child.
I did play the so-called “girlie games” with dolls and wooden kitchen sets but I was never stopped from those “strictly for boys” games and often returned home with a booty or a bruise.
Summer nights were spent on the terrace watching constellations and yearning for a shooting star. These days one hardly sees a star in the smog ridden city sky. I remember taking my elder one for walks and sitting under the star lit sky in Ranikhet during our visits there. Summer evenings spent under the shady Neem trees chewing a blade of grass and catching the glimpse of clear blue sky from between the branches was something I long to do. It was a time to watch the drifting clouds and spin stories around the figures one imagined.
Winter had its own charm. There is an insane joy in scribbling on a steamed bathroom mirror . This is something I carried from my childhood and when my boys were big enough , we left something on the mirror for the other person to figure out. A drawing, a slogan , a note , anything. It still is such a fun. I still finger draw on fogged windows of cars, on fogged glass doors , so do my kids. It used to be fun to roll a paper and smoke an imaginary cigarette pretending to be Don Corleone as the water vapor from the mouth condensed due to cold.
Wading through the creek, hopping after the frogs that croaked all the time during rains , wiggling the earthworms with thin sticks, digging holes ( just for the sake of it), catching a lady bird and watching it run around all over the hand-made life worth living. Who cared about heat and cold, rain or dust, summer or winter? Life as a kid was all one big carnival of color, sound, light and dark.
I loved to run along the train as a small girl. Trains are fascinating. I would hear the whistle and run out to watch it emerge from the bend billowing the steam and then it would zip past shaking the earth below my tiny feet. I loved travelling in the train too. On our yearly journeys to Pune I would stay glued to the window watching the kaleidoscope out side, the changing terrain, wind slapping against the face, the people, local food and the joy of straining the neck to watch the train turn around a bend. It is sight I treasure.
Sneaking away from home for an adventure is something we all loved as kids I am sure. My boys did it too and now I know that mothers have sixth sense and eyes at the back of their head and everywhere. 😀
There is so much we learn and enjoy in every stage of life but those things we did as kids never return. I made sure to do all the fun things with each of my son irrespective of what people would say about a young woman with little boys rolling down a grass slope or running from the shelter of one tree to another on a cold rainy morning in a hill station along with a little boy. Breathless, shivering, laughing and yet glowing just like kids. I wanted them to treasure moments which will be lost in time for good.
We are still a bunch of lunatics ( my boys and me) but we are all grown up now with so many issues about being oneself. Some day I want to relive my childhood, Do whatever my aging body permits. It’s a sad truth that we are all victims of growing up.
Play with your inner child sometime, let go, shed all inhibitions, don’t grow up so fast ..growing up is overrated anyway..