Dear Readers, you may notice the dates of the Blog do not match the Flash Post dates which are in real time. The blog was written in 2009 and saw the light of day 6 months back when my younger daughter discovered it and decided to bring it to you here.
Different Childhoods | Flash Post 460

Different Childhoods | Flash Post 460

Button, watching a kid spin a hula hoop round her waist on Instagram brought back lots of childhood memories!

Like?

Of me doing the same at around the same age. I promptly forwarded the video to my sister in Kolkata with a comment saying—hey, do you remember what a pro I was at this?

What did she say?

Nothing. She was envious of me because I could spin the hula hoop around my waist and she couldn’t!

There must be many such memories that you revisit from time to time when you see similar videos or encounter incidents that take you back in time!

Button, my mother cooked our meals—to begin with—in mud chullas fuelled with coal and cow-dung cakes. She actually broke small chunks of coal from bigger blocks and made cowdung cakes to light the coal.

I can guess what you’ll say next!

What?

That you helped her out.

I did—not to break the coal but by making the cowdung cakes because it was so much fun! Mine were obviously smaller because of my tiny palms but I used to aim them really high to get them to stick to the wall upon which they dried.

More?

I was a pro at ironing my father’s shirts using a bulky iron that was heated on the same chullah on which my mother cooked our meals. Besides, I was also given the task of polishing his shoes and our school shoes and, believe it or not, I was so so good at this that the shoes shone so you could see your reflection on them.

There must be others!

Plenty. But the reason I chose to talk about this is because I find more and more kids spending time on their iPhones! What I don’t understand is why parents would buy these expensive gadgets for kids as young as 6-7 years of age or even younger and not encourage them to read or play an outdoor game or take up some kind of sport or make friends they can hang out with! These are some of the things I did after I got home from school. I‘d dump my school bag, change out of my uniform, grab something to eat and run out to meet some of my neighbourhood acquaintances to play hopscotch or skip using a skipping rope and return home to do my homework, have dinner with the family which was really special because we talked, laughed, and joked while sharing the day’s stories and falling asleep later with our grandmothers telling us stories about their childhood days or reading out fairy tales to us. I mean, can someone tell me what children watch on these machines all the time these days? Some play games, I am assuming, but to simply play games the whole time when they can go out for some fresh air and give their eyes a break from peering into those machines and make friends and play with them or play outdoor games or read a book is a very normal process of growing up. It was in my time, at least! I watched a kid at a mall a few days back who had his eyes glued to his iPhone while his parents shopped not lifting his eyes even for a second to look around him! After his parents got done and called out to him, the boy followed them out of the shop with his eyes still trained on his iPhone!

Like a robot!

Exactly. It seemed to me that he was simply following instructions blindly. Mind you, he was doing something on that machine with full concentration while his younger brother screamed and played with a pair of shoes by throwing it as far as he could expecting someone would pick it up and hand it to him so he could throw it again and again and again! Luckily the kid didn’t have an iPhone and he was actually having fun giggling and laughing out loud.

But I am guessing every generation grows up with its distinctive brand of traits—some imbibed from parents, grandparents and relatives and some that are clearly ones own. Your parents must have grown up with certain characteristics that got passed down from the previous generation which were passed it on to you. Some must have stuck, other traits were yours which you nurtured and tried to pass some on to your children. I find younger generations more independent-minded, fearless and self-contained!

But I was a little troubled seeing that little boy who was busy on his iPhone. Questions that passed through my mind were—is he friends with his phone? Doesn’t he share a relationship with his parents or his younger sibling! Is he lonely? But then, again, I told myself that maybe he was happy bonding with his machine and self-sufficient without the need to interact with the outside world! Maybe he wanted to be left alone—happy to be in the ivory tower he had created for himself!

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