Sunday, 29 April 2012

The games people play..

I'm a Dinosaur Mum. Till date i had never ever played Angry Birds! Six year old Honeybunch (with help from Hub) downloaded it on the iphone a long time ago. That was her third level TP (TP as in Time Pass - the first two being TV and laptop respectively).

Yesterday, she was once again playing Angry Birds when i asked her for my phone. She handed me the phone, leaving the game mid way. One peek at the game and i was hooked. I played a few sling shots. Boy, was i pathetic!! I overshot all the time. Sometimes the birds went in the reverse..oh dear shame!! I was quickly turning into an Angry Mom. Honeybunch came back to watch my lousy play. "Mamma, that's not how you play. Let me show you." She proceeded to teach me.

A few minutes later, armed with the tutorial, i resumed play. I got some cool shots that gave me a high score. And with that free time was never the same! All day, even if i had 5 minutes free, it was Angry Birds time.

I even got into arguments with Honerbunch over iphone timeshare. She wanted to play iceAge and me..you guessed it.. Angry Birds. I managed to wrangle the phone away from her and continued with Angry Birds. I kept at it with superb shots making good scores. Every time i destroyed the well set domino like structures, the scores rocked. And I was filled with glee. I played and played, wanting to reach higher levels. Every crash, collapse and collision added thousands to the score. I gloated.

And then out of nowhere came this thought. Wasn't Angry Birds all about destruction? Weren't most games about destruction? Lovely, happy, chirpy birds were used in a sling shot to destroy cool structures. No wonder the birds were angry! And the fact that these birds were being used to blast fattened squeaky pigs probably warrants an intervention from PETA!

Anyways, I wondered some more. Do such games have any effect on kids at all? Is there a research that details the effect of these destructive "games" on fresh, fertile, innocent minds?  Do kids dismiss these games as just that and nothing more? Or is there a seed rooting in the subconscious that destruction is good? As usual, too many questions and no answers. Must browse those psychoanalyst sites that have an answer to everything. Until then, Angry Birds anyone?

On an aside, I have scanned findings that say such games improve the hand eye co-ordination in players. Given the amount of time Honeybunch (and most kids) spend on these phone games, i sure hope that research is right!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Role Reversal???!!

Yesterday we decided to catch a movie. While getting ready, as usual despite having a wardrobe full of clothes, it felt like I had nothing to wear. I tried the skirt top first.  How does it look, Honeybunch?”
(Here I have to mention that while I was scouting for clothes in the wardrobe, Honeybunch had selected the right frock and got dressed and was in the process of brushing her hair when I “troubled” her for an opinion. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have!!)
“It looks nice Mamma. I like the red color. It looks good on you.  Wear it” she replied and went back to getting dressed. But I didn’t think so. So I changed into a pair of jeans and T-shirt. This time I didn’t ask her. Not liking what the mirror showed me, I changed. And this madness went on. Twenty minutes and seven outfits later, I was still undecided and the bed was a mess with all the discarded outfits. At this point Honeybunch was ready, hair brushed, watch strapped and all set to go.  And I hadn’t even decided on the clothes!!!
Gosh!! What nonsense!! Honeybunch turned around and noticed the bed!! “My God, Mamma what is this? How many times will you change? I told you the first dress was looking good. Why did you not listen to me? And now how many more clothes will you try?” Her actions matching her words, she looked genuinely annoyed. Wow!! I was already seething inside. Her response made me madder.  But I held my peace. First the clothes didn’t fit because I’d put on weight. Yeah, that was the real reason why nothing looked good. All those clothes that fit me snugly once upon a time, refused to do so now. And to add to it, here was a 6 year old berating me on the mess I had made in the room!!! Yeah I know at one point kids will start to tell their parents what to do and what not to do, but do they start so soon??  Unbelievable! Sufficiently chastened, I dressed in the next available outfit. Without daring to glimpse in the mirror, I quickly stepped out.

The Project

Honeybunch cried at night…all of sudden … just like that and without warning or provocation!!! Usually just before tucking her into bed, I have these sessions where we discuss each other’s day. Mine will normally be about the endless calls, meetings, mails and what have you. She likes hearing how I spend my day at work and then before you know it she rattles off her day. Starting with the prayers to the time she comes home and has lunch. We both love the insights into each others’ “work” worlds!! While most of my work peeves will be around too many calls, hers will be about some boy at her table being rowdy or questioning her authority as a table monitor!!  So I was surprised by this sudden deluge of tears.
“Mamma, teacher is not giving me project work. Every week a new chart is to be made and put up in the corridor. I keep raising my hand all the time and she still never selects me! She named a few classmates. She only gives them the project work but never me. Today I asked her ‘why she did not give me the project work? Teacher said “Your mamma is working. She goes to office. She will not have time to work on the project. That is why I am not giving you!” My heart sank. Even though I am not exactly ecstatic doing craft / project work, the teacher’s response and Honeybunch’s tears was all that I could remember at the end of that conversation. I was shell shocked and completely at a loss of words. I managed to gather my wits (yes, I was that stumped!!) and asked Honeybunch to go speak with her teacher once again. To tell her teacher, that she had spoken to me about this and that together we would complete the necessary project.” I went on…”See Mamma does all your calendar items, right? I get the clay, the colors, the chart paper, everything. Then why won’t we do the project? Speak with teacher again tomorrow”, I urged!! Knowing that it was the right thing to have said, I was still restless, quite disturbed actually!! Even though I am a full time working mom I manage my time fairly well. Till date, I have never ever missed a school deadline or tasks. I have got all those innumerable chart papers, clays, white paper, colors, and what have you as many times as the school has asked!! I firmly believe that my working has not adversely impacted Honeybunch. I have been working since Honeybunch was 6 months. And to her credit, she has remarkably adjusted to it, touchwood! In the progressing years, she has become very independent and perceptive in her thought processes.  Her decision making skills never cease to astound me, but I digress!!
The next day I decided to go pick her up from school. Usually the class teacher accompanies the kiddos to the gate. So I figured that would be the best way to quickly get in a word with her.
So when the teacher escorted Honeybunch and her class to the gate, I quickly checked with her regarding the project. She said “the project involves a lot of research and labor. It is very time consuming. It will easily take up 5-6 days. We put it up in corridor for a week or so. She described the diverse topics adding “working moms will not be able to give it so much time that is why I give it to the Stay at Home Moms. Mentally, I sighed. The way she said it, I knew she meant it. She truly believed that working moms would not be able to devote that much amount of time to the project work. I didn’t know what to say. I felt a lot of things at that moment. The first thing that occurred to me was that the teacher had really been thoughtful. All said and done, it definitely is a huge task to put together a good descriptive project. One that will put up in the corridors for weeks and used to informally educate the kiddos!! But then again, agreeing with the teacher and convincing Honeybunch otherwise would mean leaving Honeybunch feeling that working moms were a not such a happy thing to have!! 
The teachers’ intentions were good. No doubt about it. In fact a part of me applauded her sensitivity and concern towards working moms. But she had unintentionally managed to hurt a few young impressionable minds. Had made them feel shortchanged. Left them with the feeling that there were things they couldn’t do as they had a Mom who did not stay at home. A mom who was out working and would not have the time to help with things important to them!!! 
I, for sure, did not want Honeybunch to feel like that. Snapping out of my thoughts, I requested the teacher to assign Honeybunch the necessary project work without any hesitation.  Told her that Honeybunch and I together would do it within the stipulated times. I re-asserted having time on my hands; sufficient enough to devote to Honeybunch and activities that mattered to her. She agreed, Honeybunch was good with that deal and all was well again.  Adding “Project Work” as the next item on  in my “to do” list, I took Honeybunch home.
A tiny amusing thought crossed my mind. Had the teacher shared this thought process with the Stay At Home Moms? Did they agree with her thinking? Did they know the real reason their kiddos were being given the project work? I wonder??!!!