Anu looked at her mother with a dull face; “Mom, I am feeling bored”. Nisha felt helpless. She, Rahul, their daughter Anu, aged 9-years, and Arjun, their son aged 7-years were all traveling from Hyderabad to New Delhi, in a day train, to attend her cousin’s marriage. The parents were busy professionals. Rahul had booked in AC 3 tier so that the kids can enjoy a comfortable journey. They had a 24-hour journey ahead of them and an hour had passed. The children were playing with their gadgets. The kids got bored and their parents could sense it. Rahul tried telling them a story, but they soon became restless.
A young guy in his mid-20s and an elderly uncle in his early 60s had occupied the remaining berths in their bay. A soon as the train started, the Guy had occupied his upper berth with his iPod. Rahul was about to open a new game on his laptop. The elderly uncle called Arjun,” Hi! Hero, what’s your name?” Arjun introduced himself.
“Shall we play a game?” questioned the uncle. Arjun asked.” what can we play here?”. “Many “smiled the uncle. “Let’s start with the color game. The game is, I will tell you one color and you have to show me two objects you can find around you with the same color. Suppose I say black, then you need to show me two objects with black color in this train”.
Arjun and Anu were so much excited. The game began. It was easy in the beginning. The rules were; they cannot repeat the objects. They had to remember the objects pointed to them by others. They had to observe every nook and corner of the place to find two objects. After a few rounds of playing the game, it became difficult for them. The children took much time to observe, but still progressed happily. As the going got tough, the guy who was sitting in the upper berth of the train watching them, helped Arjun and Anu with the clues. Arjun requested,” Can I take help? “And the uncle said “yes”. The guy was helping them as much as possible and it was fun.
The parents were just observing happily as the elderly uncle has used the game to save them from the stress of putting the children to sleep. Nisha wondered at the simplicity of the game. Children had to observe everything around them. They had to remember the things which were pointed by others. This activity increases their memory power and keeps them engaged for hours without any gadgets. By the time they have covered all the small and big objects in the Bay, it was lunch time.
Once the lunch was over, the children didn’t want to sleep, as they were excited about the journey. They requested the uncle for some new game. Rahul told the kids, “Don’t bother uncle. I will play some movie on the laptop and you can watch”. They agreed half-heartedly.
Uncle interfered and said, “Sorry for the interruption, but Arjun shall we create a movie script with a new game”. Anu was a movie freak and she was exhilarated, “what is the game, uncle?” She queried. He said, “We will create a story”. Arjun replied,” I can tell a story”. Uncle corrected him,” we all will create one. That is, each one of us will tell a line. The first one starts a line and others should continue the story by adding a line. The sentences should blend, like a movie story”. He requested Rahul and Nisha to join. The young guy also joined them. They all had to get their creative juices flowing, blending together with others, so that the crux of the story remained the same. After few hours of contributing their story lines respectively, they were ready for a fantastic story with a stunning climax.
Rahul was impressed with the game. Hope his colleagues understood this. All his team members had great creative abilities, still, they all had to match up to deliver a fine product. The team spirit is not showing each individuals’ excellence, but to work in harmony with others. This game practiced kids for that team spirit, from an early age and he loved it. They all had fun and excitement. The time had flown before they knew.
The children were sleepy after a fun long day. Nisha told them to have their dinner and go back to sleep. Rahul probed the uncle with the questions in his mind, “How come, sir, you could know such awesome games? Who are you?” The uncle answers;” my name is Rajendran and I am just a father like you. I am blessed with 3 kids. I am a marketing manager in a logistics company”.
Rahul spoke to him about the problem which had been bordering him. “Even though I buy many books for my kids, they don’t read often. I tell them stories they listen, but they don’t read. I am an avid reader still, it doesn’t make any difference to them, and they are stuck to their gadgets”. Rajendran smiled, “When my children were young, there were not many gadgets. I was busy earning and giving them a comfortable life that I didn’t have time to spend with them. When they were very young, they always requested me to play with them. I used to play when I had time, which was very rare. We used to play board games like snake and ladders, Ludo and outdoor games like cricket. My son learned mental additions with snake and ladders. Each game helps kids learn many things. I thought they have company and will play with each other. I didn’t understand that they need me to play with them, so they can learn the many nuances of each game. As they grew up, they didn’t ask me to play with them and I was busy with my life. They all lead a successful life now. They work hard so that I and my wife can live a comfortable life. What we wish is, they spend some time with us. I can’t request them, as I know they are busy. The lesson I have learned is to listen to your kid’s needs. The outspoken words, the unspoken state of mind like their fears, insecurities, and all their other feelings. If they ask for our help for simple things, it means they desire to have our company. Whenever you have time, play with your kids. There are many traditional games in each and every culture. We used to play them in our childhood. So, instead of telling our kids to stop using gadgets, let us play those games with them or any other creative game which we can create on the spot. They will forget their boring gadgets soon. The best gift we can give our kids is wonderful childhood memories. They will reach their teenage soon. After they reach an age, they will not ask us to play with them. We need to utilize this golden time. Don’t tell them to stop using mobiles and tablets. Just give them enough alternatives, so they use it as a last choice. Limit their timings, don’t ban them completely. There is no perfect playbook for parenting, each family creates its own. So make yours and have fun.”
Rahul thanked him profoundly. He had a lot to think and plan. He will not waste the little time he had with his kids.