I owe a lot to my Grandmother. She used to baby sit my children when they were young. She played all the beautiful traditional games with them. She spoiled them, cooked them their favourite meals and played with them. To a child, this was heaven. Needless to say, the children loved going to her house. There was an eighty-year age gap and on surface at least, a cultural divide that spanned three generations. But the games were an effective bridge, bringing them happy memories of childhood spent at their Great Grandmother’s house. It’s a memory they will cherish and a connection they made, that they will never forget.
Shared experiences are perhaps one of the most effective ways of making connections with grandparents and parents, with uncles and aunts, with friends and with siblings and even between husband and wife. Games perhaps are one of the most wonderful shared experiences that are available to us.
What makes traditional games so special is that they bridge every gap there is – age, culture, language, education, caste, creed, religion – none of it seems to matter when two people play a game together. When people play together, they share a bond, a connection – the thrill of the game, the togetherness, the shared experience, the love – the memories of these linger on long after the game is over.
An article published with the American Academy of Paediatrics, has emphasized the importance of play in building close relations with parents.
“When parents observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs The interactions that occur through play tell children that parents are fully paying attention to them and help to build enduring relationships. Parents who have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance. Less verbal children may be able to express their views, experiences, and even frustrations through play, allowing their parents an opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of their perspective. Quite simply, play offers parents a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with their children.”
In the high-pressure world of the 21st century, sadly there is little time to play. The pressures of work, of school, of the multitude of activities that we believe are so important to growing up all take over our lives and play sadly lies forgotten. Unstructured play lies forgotten. The child who plays a good game of chess is often bundled off to a chess class, like a child who plays a good game of cricket is bundled off to cricket class.
What happened to the days when we just played? With no aim whatsoever, no desire to win a prize or a medal or to represent the school or be featured in the newspaper. What happened to playing just for fun? In our haste to seek things that are important we often forget the most important thing that lies before us – the games we play.
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