“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” -Kay Redfield Jamison
“Mom can we play 30 minutes more?” pleaded my 10 and 6 year old boys. My instant reply was a loud and clear “NO”, which even altered the security guards. The other two boys playing grabbed their cricket bat and pedaled away as fast as they could. I asked the boys what was the time and they meekly agreed that they were late for lunch. Like any other mother I was in my best hyper mode. Walking fast ahead of them and mumbling until we reached the elevator. My younger one moved fast and stood in front of me, with hands on his waist and kind of blocking my way. He gave me a stern look exactly the way I gave them few minutes back. In an assertive tone he said,, “Mom, it’s OUR summer break and we can use OUR time whichever way we want. It’s fun to play cricket in the sun!”
Exactly, it is HIS summer break and he can use HIS time whichever way he wants. I panicked because it was noon with blazing sun and the boys were playing unperturbed by the heat. I noticed that there were very few children playing in the sun.
Another observation I made when I went for my run in the evening was ,only teams of boys playing gully cricket. As compared to Mumbai norms thankfully my housing complex has larger play area and various teams defined their pitch to play mini IPL there. I tried looking for girls but couldn’t figure out any. Going ahead there was a bunch of girls of few teenagers and few going to be teens. They were busy chatting, clicking selfies or seeing videos on mobile phones. This is a common site in the era of mobile-phones-taken-away-play-time.
The next morning again my boys picked up their cricket bats, tucked my pet along and went off to play. When I went to pick them up I was surprised to see comparatively more children than the day before in the park. I was happy and surprised too. My happiness didn’t last long as I saw vanity vans and it took me no time to understand that there was a shoot happening in the complex. These children were sitting diligently in the scorching heat waiting for the “CUT” .It pained me.
(Vanity Vans in the complex )
Summer break is a time where children explore freely. They should explore the nature, find new friends, discover interesting games , get into the world of reading or create painting master pieces by making their hands dirty . Children should learn things on their own either by creating a mess in the kitchen, or battling out with sibling. We have failed to structure our life but are keen to give a proper frame to a child’s brain in HIS/HER free time.
Summer camp information starts flowing in much before the school is ready to shut for the academic session. It is good that children learn something new and get inclined towards progressive learning, which these camps offer. But it is equally important to have unstructured playtime for children. Let them find their own team, have their own little quarrel over lost ball, face the victory and defeat together. Let them learn with messy hands , let them be untidy, non-systematic, lazy but Let them be. You can’t cushion them forever.
Summer break is for all irrespective of gender so make your girls rough. Not just mentally but physically too. Let them face harsh sun. Encourage them to play with boys. There is much more than dolls and indoor games. There is life outside selfie, pouts and Instagram let them know this.
It is their time with no school routine , no time-table , no alarms, no rush for school bus but let them enjoy this MY TIME. Trust me they’ll be a happier lot once the school reopens and just think don’t we all need OUR time? So do our children .