Just last week my co-workers and I were talking about our childhood and how we grew up without computers and Wii and playstations. And how my co-worker's 7 year old is the unbeatable CounterStrike champion in their neighborhood.
Things were a lot simpler then. As soon as we woke up from our afternoon naps, my sister and I were out of the house, playing with whatever struck our fancy (mostly removing the leaves from my mom's fern plants and scattering them around) and fighting with each other, of course, at which point our grandaunt would come out, break us up and make us go inside. Then we'd fight over who cheated at jacks or pick up sticks.
Summer was something to look forward to as we were usually with our cousins in the province where we would play the more traditional Filipino games like patintero or just play tag or hide and seek. Or just race up and down the pigsty which was located on top of a hill and where you get a view of the river on the other side if you didn't mind the muck and the stink.
In grade school, it was not unusual to see groups of girls sprawled in the corridors during breaks playing chinese jackstones and jacks, and as we got older, chinese garter. I once sprained my ankle playing this game in our back yard while trying to jump over the garter which was raised to shoulder length -- and I was already a freshman in college.
The streets outside our neighborhood would usually fill with children at around 4 pm and wouldn't empty until nightfall. Nowadays, it's quiet apart from the people sweeping fallen leaves off the front of their houses. There's the occasional nanny taking a child out for a walk in a stroller but no more children playing on the streets.
So yesterday, I thought up a quick game of hide and seek in the afternoon with my brother, husband and the two kids. And I learned the impossibility of keeping a three year old quiet while hiding. Faith kept giggling which is why I immediately found her and her dad hiding behind the coconut tree in the yard. And she couldn't keep quiet even when I held a hand over her mouth while hiding with my brother behind a wooden chair, prompting me to push her into view so her dad could see her. I crept over to where Joshua had previously hidden which was fortunate for me because Faith pointed out my previous hiding place to her dad gleefully. Cripes! I guess I have my work cut out teaching her the basics of playing hide and seek. We ended up throwing a frisbee around for the rest of the afternoon.
I know it's naive of me to think that my children will be able to resist the lure of computer games. Joshua is already fascinated with computers and using paint and playing Super Mario. I can't keep them from technology. But I also realize it's my role to teach them they don't have to be indoors all the time. That it's possible to have fun without high tech toys and gadgets and tv.
So call me a killjoy but I'm definitely holding off from getting a playstation or a Wii. And I'll be happy if Joshua remains ignorant of Counter Strike for the meantime.