Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Activities", children and holidays

Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

Our local Nanny, the Government of Maharashtra had declared 19th February 2014 to be a public holiday. This was to commemorate the birth of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This declaration was done at the start of the year. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Education Department diktaat made it clear that 19th February 2014 would not be a school holiday. Instead, children would have to go to school and the schools would have to conduct appropriate classes/events to commemorate the birth of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This threw a real spanner in the works for all concerned. Parents were left confused and holiday plans were messed up. Schools had to remain open. Some school buses were available and many others were not. Basically, this flip flop caused mass confusion.

Today, 27th February 2014 is Mahashivratri. It is the day Shiv the God was born. It has been declared a holiday. Banks are shut, schools are shut but many offices are open and the High Court is open. So again another confused day, albeit confused in a different manner. If daddy is a lawyer he will be at work while mummy who is an investment banker will be chilling at home, getting her hair done. Daddy will have taken the car and presumably driver thus leaving mummy alone at home to look after Bittu and Dimple. You get the picture?

This morning, a friend messaged that Dimple had a holiday and mummy had not got any “activities” planned for Dimple!!! This apparently was a big problem. What does mummy do with Dimple on a holiday?

This got me thinking, and obviously blogging. I am unaware what “activities” means.

Dimple is about 6 years old. I was six some forty four years ago. When I was six and I had a holiday, regardless of whether my mummy and daddy worked or not, I went down to play. Whoever else in the building had a holiday also went down to play. My building had a big compound. So my pals from the next door buildings that had smaller compounds came across and we played. What did we play? Cricket, football, Robbers and Cops [Chor Police], 7 tiles and we rode our bicycles. We invented games to play when riding our bicycles. I cannot recall being supervised, I cannot recall an ayah looking after us. Yes there were ayahs but they looked after real infants, our younger siblings. And these infants came down in the evening. We were down playing since the morning. Then it was lunch time and often we ate at each others house. We had really no veg and non veg restrictions or inability to eat `tikha’ or food being cut up into bite size portions before we were fed. We just ate what was served. Then if it was hot, our mummys made us play board games at home during the afternoon. Then, once it was about 4 pm, we all went back down.

We had nothing planned for us. We had no “activities” planned for us. We simply went down and played. Surely there are children in most buildings today. Surely they can go down and play. But this need to have “activities” planned for Dimple is something I find bizarre.

Looking at it differently, assuming that with the passage of 44 years since I was 6, times have changed, and it is now necessary to have ‘activities’ planned for Dimple, because that’s the new normal, surely you knew it was a holiday for Mahashivratri right at the start of the year. Why did you not have something planned? If constant monitored activity must be planned for every moment when Dimple is not at school, then why wasn’t Mahashivratri activity planned? And, how much time does it take to plan say, a trip to the museum? Do kids do that? A visit to the sabzi market? Why not? A pizza cooking session at home? Great fun for kids and lunch will be a treat. Building a lego truck at home? Do kids still pay with lego?

What is the world coming to? 

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