bringing up children today in today's world is definitely not child's play. when i think back to my childhood days (which is too far back for comfort) it seems as if i had a fairly easy time growing up and had a ball while at it! (some people might remark here that it definitely shows in the way i've grown up... and not in a generous sense :-) ).
let me list out a few things that starkly bring out the differences between our own childhood and that of our kids today -
1. i learnt to swim in a 'nalah' or an irrigation canal, where a friend taught me how to breathe and stay afloat. we used to have a whale of a time during our vacations where a group of enthusiasts used to travel on our bicycles to this nalah next to the empress garden in pune. i was in the 7th or 8th standard/grade then.
my son started his swimming classes right from his play school days. he agonises over it, refuses to let go of his floats and kick-board, knows all about various strokes, and takes a shower before and after he's done with the swimming session.
2. i used to walk to school and back with a gang of neighbourhood friends. i would look forward to school each day just for this walk. each day used to be a new adventure. and then when i reached secondary school (6th standard/grade) we used to drive our bicycles to school. which gave us a whole new sense of freedom!
kids go to school by the school bus and i doubt if most would ever ride their own bicycles to school.
3. i never attended any hobby/activity classes till my 9th standard/grade. i used to be part of the school choir and was also on stage every year for plays, dances, choir-singing, etc. once we got back from school our time was occupied with completing our home-work and playing scores of games with all the neighbourhood friends.
kids today attend all kinds of classes almost every day of the week. these include music (instrumental & vocal), dancing, chess, karate, swimming, art, etc.
4. during our summer vacations we used to travel to someplace within india or to our own native place (where my parents were born). we used to travel second class, bear the brain-sapping summer heat, and reach our destinations grimy and smelly. but the journey would always be memorable and fun! (i never travelled in an aircraft till i was 23.) and all the local travelling at these places was usually by whatever public transportation was available.
kids nowadays usually vacation abroad. travelling by flight is fairly de rigeur, even within india. public transportation is largely avoided.
5. toys and books were rare luxuries which we got for some special occasion like birthdays or doing well in an exam. (similarly, eating out was a rare treat!) we climbed trees, made up our own games, caught fish in bottles in nearby streams, made mud-castles, got wet in the rains, ...
most kids today have more toys than they can remember. eating out with friends and family is a very frequent phenomenon! they play games on their x-box, don't play in the mud or get wet in the rains, have never climbed trees, easily get bored in spite of all the games/toys they have, ....
don't get me wrong. i am in no way advocating that we deprive our children of all the good things they are getting exposed to.
but i somehow can't help feeling i had loads more fun when i was my son's age. do you feel the same? any answers why? and i feel, we ourselves are to blame... do you agree?