I do not remember having as many toys, books, gadgets and games as my daughter does, but I do not remember asking my mother what to do when I was bored.
Because I was never bored. In fact, I always thought the day lacked hours because I always seemed to have so much to do. We played every chance we got, with dolls, with blocks, with the resident stray. We rolled on the ground, we sat in abandoned pipes, we climbed trees, we hid under blankets and called them tents. On school days we finished our homework and were outside at 5 o’clock sharp and we got home two hours later to a family sit down. We played carom and Ludo, we read books and we had discussions over dinner. We were a nuclear family of four during the weekdays and a joint family of around 16 over the weekends because that was ritual too… visiting and spending time with family.
So what’s with kids these days? I could easily blame it on the gadgets, because once I let my girl use the iPad or kindle, the hours fly by. Once the gadget is put away, I see an immediate slump in the mood or a spike in the temper. Yes, I could very happily blame technology and its evil spawn.
But I won’t. Because it is me, the parent who is at the core of it all. Not because I got her the gadget but because I did not teach her, did not show her how to use it sensibly. I did not teach her to think beyond the next prompt.
Monkey does as Monkey sees.
I am addicted to the internet. I love everything about it, from the information it has to offer to the people it connects me to… and I do not know when to stop accessing it. For a while, when I was technologically challenged enough to not look at buying a smartphone, we were okay, since over and above everything, I was too lazy to switch on the laptop after I got home. Now things stand differently. Even though I do not read every joke, motivational message, dire warning about a new virus… I still check the phone compulsively all the time and if a headline catches my eye, then God help me, I forget the existence of everything save what is happening in Bulgaria.
For the past couple of months, I put the phone away once I get home from work. For about two hours, I am just mamma who does regular stuff, like holler about the state of the house, the food that has not been consumed, the incomplete classwork and the reason behind why she thought it appropriate to stuff clay in all the keyholes. One would think she would be glad to have me go back to my smartphone. But strange things happen and she is okay with monster mamma person as long as she is the point of hundred percent focus.
And she is okay when I limit her access to the gadgets.
Because Monkey does as Monkey sees.