Sometimes I wonder when I compare the times we grew up in with the present days – did we live in more dangerous times, where we had more freedom or is it better now with parents hovering around us the whole time? I mean did we really live in dangerous times or our kids being more protected and cloistered by un-neccessary caution?
Play time was freedom time – freedom from studies, freedom from parental supervision , freedom from the shackles of expected behaviour. We could play anywhere; the world was our playground. As a child I remember my brother and me would play in the pits dug up in the vacant plot next doors for laying the foundation. We would imagine it to be some maze where we were lost. Or the labyrinths of by-lanes in a long forgotten ancient city and we the daring explorers. The scenarios changed everyday depending on our imagination. Our mother was blissfully unaware of our adventures.
Once inside the park, we were unstoppable. The monkey ladders, Tarzan ropes, merry-go-arounds, slides, everything captured our attention and had to be experienced. Once my brother fell down, head first, from the monkey ladder and hurt himself badly, and our primary concern then was how to evade the attention of the group of grandmas enjoying a gossip session in the park and continue playing. Their attention meant acknowledging the injury, being taken back home for first aid and more importantly being told not to go back to the park. Not acceptable.
Our electric blue unisex bicycle was our ride to freedom. We would take turns riding it around the park or through the lanes of the neighbourhood. We found new mango trees to loot from or made some new friends from the other lanes or get updates about who’s new in the neighbourhood. I mean there was so much to do by ourselves. In case of accidents, we had to fend for ourselves so that’s how we learnt the basics of first aids.
Now if you go to the park, you’ll find more mothers/nannies/supervisors than the children. Don’t climb there, don’t sit there, don’t jump from there, …thats all one can hear. Their bicycles are loaded with features and gears fit to be on a spaceship, but they can ride it only within the park or even worse around the building. And of course, clear instructions about don’t try any new stunts and don’t let go of the handle bars.
The basic right of every child to play freely is crushed by the adult supervision. How unfortunate. Our rapacious need to control the lives of our children is depriving them of such simple joys of childhood. As we grow up, each hurt, injury, scratch has a story to tell. And as we grow up its these childhood memories that are the most cherished.
Oh please, let them be. Let them explore and discover the world in their own ways. They will outgrow their childhood but the memories will remain forever. And it will definitely bring a smile every time they reminisce about those beautiful times.