Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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.


Keshi said...

u r absolutely right there Menchie! I have the same thouthts abt today's childhood. Its sad actually. Cos they miss out on the natural and real fun. I even wrote a post abt this long time ago...

**The streets outside our neighborhood would usually fill with children at around 4 pm and wouldn't empty until nightfall

Thats so true. Bak when I was a kid, we played with the kids in our neighbourhood all the time. And our parents didnt worry abt anything at all. Not its all FEAR n SAFETY n WHAT-NOT it's so claustrophobic! And it's anti-social!


Menchie said...

it's anti-social but the reality is it's not safe anymore.

i'm lucky that we have a huge yard for the kids to play in because they are not allowed to play in the streets, even if there are helpers to watch over them. maybe i'm too paranoid but i can't take the risk. i would die if something happened to my kids. how i wish they could have the same childhood as mine.

Pecos Blue said...

Here here! We are trying to delay all that stuff as long as possible and let the imagination take over and just let him play. Keep it up.

Nanditha Prabhu said...

i feel u r rt.
Being a mom of two i too try to create and participate in games to keep my kids active... though it is hard with soo much exposure around

Keshi said...

true...safety has becomes such a big issue these days...and its got its good reasons too.


curryegg said...

You're a real loving and caring mother for your children. It's true that todays kids are addicted to technology stuff and very few of them playing outdoor game... including me.. Oops.. haha..

And i'd played hide and seek with my nephew before who was 4 years old and my experince was similar to yours. She just couldn't stop making noises. haha.. At the end, we were caught. haha..I'll never forget it.


Aidan said...

Welcome to our world, I will be happy if stace and I never buy a TV. Computers do have a place there are some awesome games for kids that improve eye hand co ordination, and can act as a learning aid.

I had some great times on the pc with my friends huge LAN parties... Beer and Games over the net VS the world and each other... Great times:)

Menchie said...

i know, thanks! :D

well, i find tv is the hardest to avoid because they know how to turn it on and operate the remote control. At least they can't do that to the desktop.

it's really scary out there especially for young kids.

thank you, i try. but i had a lot of fun playing hide and seek.

I too enjoy playing games but I also know how addictive it can be especially for young people. It's too much distraction from school and other things, I guess.

Dan said...

The only thing certain in this world is that things are constantly evolving. I remember my granddad rueing the changes and comparing my childhood to his. Then my dad did it.

And you know what? We're doing it now! :)

And our kids will be doing it one day as well!

Ms. Val said...

Menchie, those imagination-based outdoor cames aren't gone completely. At least not around here. There are no fewer than a dozen boys in our neighborhood between the ages of 8 and 13. And when the whole crowd gets together, enjoying a video game becomes rather difficult.

I find myself lucky that my boys can find someone to play with whenever they bored. Sometimes they'll drag out the nets for lacrosse or hockey. They might play hide and seek behind parked cars, large shrubs, or mailboxes. And there are several families with basketball hoops. So there's a game going on somewhere.

These outdoor activities will be greatly curtailed within the month when the afternoons become unbearably hot. But that's why we have a pool in the yard.

Oh, one more thing: What's Chinese garter? Is that like Chinese jump rope? That brings back memories. I haven't seen a kid play that in ages!

Diesel said...

I've never been much for computer games (and I'm a software developer!). I'm holding off on all that crap as long as I can. My kids play the occasional game of Pajama Sam, but they're just as happy to run around outside.

Marie said...


You are a wonderful mother. It's great that you involve yourself in your children's games, etc. Being stuck in front of a computer is definitely not healthy. Though of course you can't stop them as technology is such a large part of our lives now.

Menchie said...

You're right, of course. A lot of the toys now really amaze me but I can imagine how the toys during my time were different from my parents.

Ms. Val,
Chinese garter might be similar to chinese jump rope. It needs a minimum of 3 players and a garter which the two players tie around their waist and it moves up from the ground, then to the knees, then to the waist, and so on..

Wonder how long before my son starts asking me to get him a playstation. I hope not in the next ten years. Or would that be too much to ask?

thanks. that compliment means a lot to me.

I feel somewhat guilty though, because they also see me in front of a computer a lot -- working, blogging. I feel my husband and i are contributing to the fascination with computers.

Nicole said...

The other night our power went out. My mom and I pretty much freaked out. No TV, no music, we were forced to actually have a conversation. It may have been simpler, but my generation wouldn't be what it is without technology. Its in our blood. :)

Within Without said...

I salute you, Mench, for your ingenuity and your wish to bring your kids back to the good times.

Kids NEED to play outside. They NEED to get away from computers, cellphones and all that crap to just be kids.

They NEED to just play. I agree you can't keep them away from the culture they're being bomarded with entirely.

But it's a good, loving thing to try to do. Good on you, girl. Good on you.

Menchie said...

I know and the last time the power was out I was freaking out too but mostly because of the heat.
We used to have power outages that lasted days when I was younger and that's when my sisters and i would head out on the roof of our house and just talk. what i'd like to strive for is a balance, I guess. :D

It's hard to strike a balance especially with the bombardment, as you said. But it's worth it to just try, I guess.

scott said...

Hiya! Just dropping by :)

Yeah, technology sucks us all in but is just something we just have to deal with at this stage. Like everything it is has its good and bad parts though. Balance is the key I guess.

I think us adults need to get outside as well though :P

Ces said...

Different times. One's happy childhood is always the best. They will eventually tire of the electronic games although the cell phone becomes more significant as they grow older.

Then there were few or no child molesters, sex offenders and creepy people.

Menchie said...

Hi Scott!
I agree with you -- I still enjoy playing outdoor games at my ripe old age. :D

Yes, the creepy people. At my kids' young age, I felt it was important for me to instruct them that if somebody wants to touch/look at private parts to punch them in the face and tell the teacher afterwards.

I don't even remember my mother ever telling me this when i was a kid.

Harlot said...

Menchie, it's different alright. I'm 25 and i don't understand why my 17 year old brother has to change cellphone everytime he fancies a new one. :/ I'm happy as long as the freaking thing is working. The same thing with PS. Though, i suppose it's because of the better graphics and games?

Computer though, it's a must for me. It's not a luxury anymore but a necessity. I cannot live without it and i freak out everytime i have no internet connection! Then iPod and TV.. to think when i was a wee heathen, just let me swim for hours and play patintero and i'd be happy.

Menchie said...

i'm not into cellphones either (unless the hubby is willing to get me the iphone as a gift! LOl!). But I do spend a lot of time on my laptop when I'm not reading.

it just occurred to me one night as my hubby and i were at our laptops and the kids were playing with their pretend laptops that we really have to spend more time outside, hence the hide and seek game.

but yeah, i used to love the patintero games on the streets when I was a kid. i miss it.

homo escapeons said...

We had to use our imagination, read, build things, draw, daydream, how on Earth did we ever survive.

I am fairly strict with Ridz, my 5 year old, who of course can just sit down at the PC and play games...the teenagers multi task online at a blur..they will have 6 programs running and somehow keep it all going?!?!

I didn't grow up with PCs ..HA I remember microwaves the size of small ovens and 25 pound VCRs..I actually loved our Betamax, the picture was fantastic and I remember wondering why Sony blinked because VHS SUCKED!!!!!

Oh well I make Ridz use his imagination 10 times as much as he gets to play on the computer...I realise that he needs to feel comfortable with PCs but interacting with real people in the RW is still more important. Once we are living in outer space then we can forget about RW.

kj said...

mench, one of the things i miss most is "children playing in the streets" and people of all ages walking along the sidewalks. little communities are so important and yet, it seems we're just not playing and strolling outside anymore.

you are 100% right. your kids will thank you for it. and the game of hide and seek sounded like a riot of fun--so what that faith couldn't help giggling and telling good for her!!


Menchie said...

The first time i sat behind a pc was in college and it was still dos prompt and wordstar.

it was a riot! but i also loved the look on Joshua's face when he learned to toss the frisbee for the first time and also caught it for the first time. priceless!

Ms. Val said...

Chinese garter might be similar to chinese jump rope. It needs a minimum of 3 players and a garter which the two players tie around their waist and it moves up from the ground, then to the knees, then to the waist, and so on..

Yep, that sounds like Chinese jump rope! But how on earth did anyone jump over it when the rubber bandy thingy was moved to the waist???