What do kids do today?

I'm scarily aware that I have started sounding like an old person, who keeps talking about how lovely things were in his or her childhood. But I do have lots of questions and issues with young kids today.

The end of fantasy - My four year old is a fairly innocent kids, for this day and age, and still believes in Santa and Mickey mouse. He watches Mickey Mouse Playhouse on TV and believes that "Mickey tells me everything'. He even believes he knows how to skate because he saw Mickey do so on the program. Shockingly, no less than three of his classmates and friends have been at him, telling him that mickey is not real. How do they know? Is that what their parents or siblings have been telling them? And why? Why take away magic and fantasy and imagination at such a young age? The realisation of what is real and what is not comes soon enough. Why take that power away from a four year old?

Boredom - I remember when I was a kid (many moons ago), we used to travel down to the south and stay at a relative's house for two months - either my grandparents' or uncles'. We had few toys and almost no spending money - the day we got 5 or 10 paise to buy the sugar coated jeera or saunf was a big day for us. We had access to libraries but our parents could not afford to buy too many books. We didn't plan on excursions on a daily basis, watch TV, play computer games or have summer learning camps. And yet, we would be busy from morning to night and went to sleep with great reluctance. We never had time to get bored. Today, when every conceivable input is available to play and learn with, my son complains of boredom. He is bored at school, bored during morning yoga...bored. Is it the age-old axiom of having too much? I think so. And this is despite our fairly strict and restricted buying of stuff for him, apart from books which I believe is a splurge out category. Or maybe it is the complete change of scene that used to do it for us - the shift away from home into a somewhat unfamiliar milieu and the company of same age cousins. Today, holidays are much shorter, and that too often spent in hotels, perhaps with no cousins or other kids nearby.

Reckless TV watching - Most of my son's friends' moms are homemakers, not working women. They prefer it if he goes to their homes to play since they are on the spot to supervise the kids whereas at my place my two maids would supervise them. And yet, every time my son returns from visiting his friends, i find that he has been watching TV for a considerable portion of the time, that too channels and programs unsuitable for four-year-olds, be it Jetix or Spiderman or a Hindi movie. He has also usually had some junk food or the other - coke, french fries, chips or cake, none of which we stock at home regularly. Surely, if the pbjective of staying home for your kids is to ensure that they are brought up and cared for properly, these are no-brainers. How much effort does it take to insist your son watch a Mickey Mouse or Noddy rather than a program full of violence and weapons and evil people? or that he eat fruit or vegetables or even a dhokla as opposed to sugary, nutrition free junk?


It seems as if the act of staying at home for one's kids has become the hallmark of good parenting and therefore actively taking part in what the child is doing is not required, 'because I'm always there'.

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