Games Our Children Play

Let me ask you something. If your child comes up to you and asks if he/she can play house-house or ghar-ghar with friends, you won’t think even for a fraction of a second before saying ‘yes’, will you? I know I won’t. In fact when I see Namnam pouring ‘tea’ into her little ‘tea-cups’ and serving it to her friends or when she puts on her gloves to take out ‘freshly-baked pizza’ from her ‘oven’ or simply rolls out a dough onto her chakla to make rotis, I go on a nostalgic trip of my own drawing similarities to my own childhood.

I remember for us kids ghar-ghar meant having a kitchen stocked with the usual saucepan, kadhai, glasses, plates, spoons,etc and each of us had a role to play. One of us would be the ‘husband’ who would have a newspaper in his hand while the ‘wife’ would bring tea, make two cups and start complaining to the ‘husband’ about how their children troubled her and didnt ‘study’. And the rest of us acted as ‘children’ either doing our homework or playing marbles or ‘gotiyaan’ as the game was known or just getting reprimanded by ‘our parents for our supposed ‘misdoings’ :D. And on days one of us had our barbie doll set, were the happiest of days. Because we could try out different dresses on her, deck her up and take chances singing lullabies to her and carrying her like a baby.

So today when I hear the term play-house or ghar-ghar, that’s image that conjures up in my mind. Namnam and her friends are combing their respective barbie’s hair, dressing her up, tucking her in bed and I smile and wish to myself that they would never grow out of this innocence.

Having said that, yesterday, when one of my relatives shared a disturbing incident that occured in the school where she teaches, it got me wondering if innocence was indeed at risk and somewhere the parents had a hand in it.

It happened in one of the school buses. A 4 year old kindergartener went up to her friend and asked him to join her in the backseat on the pretext of playing ghar-ghar. To say that I was shocked at hearing what she did next would be an understatement. She took the boy to the backseat, removed her underwear and
told him to lie on top of her. Luckily the conductor caught them just in time and reported them to their parents. The perplexed parents approached the school principal who in turn summoned the girl. And as it turned out, the girl revealed that this was a game which she and a couple of her friends in the class played regularly. Upon being asked from where she learned this game, she replied,’ mere mummy-papa khelte hai'(my mummy-papa play this game).

Now, I understand that children grasp things very fast, but if a 4year old girl asks a boy to lie on top of her then it clearly means that children grasp things much faster and much more than what they are meant to.

So how do we address this issue? Who do we blame here?

  • Do we blame these little children who dont even know what making love is or to put it more bluntly, having sex is? Do they even need to know?
  • Do we blame the TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. for inflating their curiosity level?
  • Do we blame the living conditions in our country where so many families live in one-room flats giving zero privacy because of which many times children end up seeing things which they are not supposed to?
  • Or do we blame our regressive mentality where ‘SEX‘ is still a taboo subject and any inquisitive query from a child is treated with a snub or a shove?
  • Or is it time that we parents introspected? Will it help in safeguarding our little ones’ innocence if we, parents are a little more cautious and careful? Will it help if we parents are a little more encouraging towards discussing this subject more openly? So that if and when our little inquisitive-minds come up to us with any questions, we are ready and open enough with answers that are appropriate for their age?

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34 thoughts on “Games Our Children Play

    1. my god Deeps…this is certainly shocking..I’m shaken…more so now that I’m a parent myself I really am worried about my daughter and thinking how much and on what all grounds will I have to keep a check on her and guard her ?

      We as parents might as well be very careful and cautious before saying/doing anything in Chirpy’s presence but what about her peers ..like the one mentioned above? There is this side to the problem too ! Sigh !

      Why has growing up become so difficult these days? Did we not grow up? Or we were too meek / dumb to see or think or comprehend what was going around? 😦

      I feel in all honesty babies should just remain babies…cutest ever stage of a human being’s life !

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      1. Na, I dont think we were dumb or meek, Nu. Just that the shelf-life of our innocence was probably more than our kids’ today. “babies should just remain babies…cutest ever stage of a human being’s life !” couldnt agree more.

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  1. shocking. How can parents expect it from a 4 year old or be prepared for it. Many Indian parents make the kids sleep with them even if they have an extra room . I feel this needs to be changed.

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      1. yeah I think that’s right but as we all know not everyone has the facility of a separate room/space for children to be away…so the root cause is not only co-sleeping but much beyond !

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  2. The good things is Kids are curious and they learn so quickly and they grasp good and bad all in equal measures based on what they are exposed too.

    As a matter of fact that, exposure these days is so high due to net, TV, mobile phones that keeping a control on exposure is very difficult and parents would need to control their own “Shauk” (writing this as couldn’t think of a more appropriate word in english) to ensure their children are not exposed to it.

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    1. Yes its good that kids are curious. But when you hear of incidents like the one above, you wonder what next? Apart from being curious about why sun always rises from the east, or why the moon is round or why a cow doesnt smile or what will happen if there were no steering in the car, now we have to grapple with a scenario where a 4 year old is curious about sex? Gosh, where is all this heading?

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  3. 4 years old !!! 😯 I don’t know what to say!!

    It took me atleast until I was 8-10 years before I started paying attention to the relationship between adults and whether there was less about emotions and more about physical relationship if any between my parents (or any adult male and female).

    It’s possibly a combination of all the factors you mentioned.
    Kids are growing up faster and faster with each generation, becoming more aware of their surroundings and observing as much.
    There is far more exposure to adult entertainment through explosion of media so their innocence is becoming less and less, which is truly sad.
    And yes lack of space and sharing bedrooms also cause this problem. Parents assume children maybe asleep… they need not be.

    And most importantly, the taboo attitude towards sex. It’s about how parents approach this topic with children. But then again, at 4 years old, what in the world can a parent tell his or her kid?? 😐

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    1. Exactly, how do we explain a 4year old? And I just got to know about another incident that happened in one of the schools here. A boy was caught exchanging a blue-film CD with another classmate of his and upon being asked from where he got, he revealed he had seen his father watching porn regularly and quite naturally he was excited to share it with his classmates, so he sneaked it out of his father’s shelf. Quite obviously the father was oblivious to the fact that he was being watched! Highly disturbing!

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  4. Its not shocking to me as I have heard similar stories elswhere too.

    I think its combination of many things but main factor is parents who let the children sleep with them and then dont control themselves..and then parents themselves are very free and physical with each other in front of children.

    Sex shouldnt be taboo for adults, but for children it should be…

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    1. To very small children, yes talking about sex should certainly be restricted. I’m not saying it should be brushed aside. If they do have any questions they should be dealt with explanations appropriate for their age. To cite a personal example, a couple of days back, my 4year old was curious to know how I had a stretch mark in my tummy to which I told her about the days when she was inside me and how her kicks and pokes made me scratch back at her :). Further she had this curiosity to know how she got to be in my tummy in the first place, to which I explained that her father had put her in there and then we had to wait for her to grow a little to bring her out of the tummy. She wanted to know how we did that and then told her that we sought the help of a doctor. She was convinced and didn’t delve deep into it. I know a few years down the line she will seek more explanation to this story and I’ll have to be ready with a more comprehensive answer. Older children are more curious about things happening around them and because of factors like media-explosion, living-conditions they become more exposed also. In which case, I think the parents need to extra cautious and responsible enough to encourage an open communication with them and make them aware of right and wrong. I dont think treating it as a ‘taboo’ subject is the answer.

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  5. Ohh god. I will blame the parents society and media.
    Its there in your face all the time.. Poosr kids they are innocent they pick up what they see.
    Parents dont talk to kids.. I had a interesting day some time back where I was asked to talk to a class of 30 odd kids about 7-8 years old on safety and all.. One of the kids asked me of rape.. I was astonished..

    Kids are very much aware these days… We have to talk.. Explain with patience lots of it.. If we wont they will pick it up like that.

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    1. “Kids are very much aware these days… We have to talk.. Explain with patience lots of it.. If we wont they will pick it up like that.” Absolutely agree, Bik

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  6. This is so unreal…
    I know that parents need to talk to their kids abt everything more openly but how does someone speaks to a 4 year old about this…. I think its difficult for the kid as well as the parents….

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    1. It IS difficult, Tanishka but when a 4year old begins to get curious about things for all the wrong reasons then it becomes a very serious issue which the parents have to address at any cost and make their child understand about the right and wrong of it.

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  7. Oh God!!!! Shocking and disturbing. There is no way to protect our kids from knowing all this stuff, but I’m sure we can explain the hazards. The question is – how early is too early?!!!!!

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    1. ‘Explain the hazards’ – THAT sure is a way forward. As for the right age, Pals, I think it starts from the day you feel that your child is ready to be away from you for a few hours or in other words when you decide to put him/her in a play-school or creche or pre-school. In my case I started telling Namnam about ‘good touch and bad touch and about nudity, etc. when she was 3+ which is when she started her pre-school. And now lately she has started getting curious about her birth, so I have started explaining to her about that as well, of course in the way that is appropriate for her age. Refer my reply to Renu above. I dont know if it was the right age, but my gut said that she was ready so I started talking about it. Guess its about when YOU feel your child is ready.

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  8. Oh my gosh. This is shocking. But then, such a story would have been disbelieved years ago. Not today. Moralities have changed and your bullet points are very valid. Our safeguards definitely need to be more effective.

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  9. Dear Deeps
    Vacations started today, and yours is the first blog I visited. Long time. 🙂

    What I read here, on the first post, is as shocking as it is not. Why not, you ask?

    As a teacher, and as a resident of Kerala, these incidents are horrifyingly usual. You speak of the horror of kids imitating the “act”, and of Blue film CDs being passed around. In our school (a pretty reputed, “Indian Values” sort of school) many such incidents have surfaced, esp. the CDs. Sad, but the bitter truth.

    My first salvo, in this case would most certainly be fired at the parents. For a young child (and we know, this day and age, children are precocious from the time they learn to see, listen and baby talk!), to learn to imitate what is happening, the parents have certainly exposed him/her to visuals of it all! Where else would they learn? And then again, cases of CSA, within the family. Kerala has begun to acquire the dubious distinction of leading from the front, if media reports are anything to go by.

    The next salvo, of course, would be at society itself and the media, and us at school, where we mentor, guide and “educate” (Supposedly!). Maybe not to a graphic extent, but we do have a responsibility towards sex education, even with the little ones. And while it should start at home, there is this taboo about speaking openly of sex that makes it all the more a topic fraught with dangers.

    What is horrifying is the number of incidents in school we notice. Almost always, the child, in his/her innocence refers back to the gathering of his/her knowledge to the home; Parents who still allow their kids to sleep in the same room either have to practice abstinence, if need be, or ensure privacy by giving their kids a separate room. No, one need not feel guilty about it. It has to be done to ensure a healthier upbringing of their child!

    Sorry for the rant, Deeps, in the first time here, after a long break, but this is something we have all been observing with a great deal of sadness and worry! Thank you for the post, for the awareness you have created.

    And, on a happier note, Onam aashamsagal to you and yours 🙂

    D: Welcome back, Ushus :). Your rant makes so much more sense than mine :D. Each point you have raised is relevant to the ‘T’. Agree with you on creating awareness. Yes it is important for our children to be aware of what is right and wrong for their age, but, it is also equally (IMHO, far more) crucial for the parents to be aware of their responsibility to keep their children aware and guided.

    Thank you Ushus, Onam aashamsagal to you and your familiy too :). Hugs and much love 🙂

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  10. Shocking Indeed! But, who will bell the cat when there is so much exposure going around in the from of media, Internet and other sources?

    Many a time, the kids learn many things from external sources rather than from their homes.For example, i have noticed few small ones around 5-6yrs old mouthing such profanities inspite of coming from very cultured backgrounds. I did corner a few and asked them where they heard it, their answer was in so and so movie a so and so hero repeated it again and again. Not only that, the cartoons which are displayed on television has any integrity. The language which is used is highly despicable.

    I do agree that children have to be made aware of the right and wrongs which are prevailing in the society as Usha Mam has highlighted about the CSA issues. Until and unless we take precautions our kids will always be vulnerable towards this exposure.

    We are humans and Inquisitiveness is part and parcel of our nature. How we expect kids not to possess it?

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  11. Whatever the reasons could be (I don’t know myself), I can say for sure that it is not the second one, namely TVs, movies ads etc. Why? Because this has happened even in ages when TV was unheard of and movies very uncommon. Probably even before that.
    One reason could be the subject is taboo and the forbidden interests the kids too. Second could be the lack of proper space and families staying together.
    But tell me something. Even in houses where there is space, where do the children sleep in our country? Right next to the parents while they have sex. So it should not come as a surprise that kids indulge in such games. I personally know a girl who told us (in college) how she and her cousins as 7-8 year olds regularly peeped into their newly married older cousin’s room. You know how our old houses are, windows opening out of every room on to the next room? There were no TVs and movies were something the city dwellers saw occasionally. But the children knew enough to peep to watch something forbidden.
    This also reminds me of a long story written by a lady in sulekha.com of times in the past and how children played ‘games’

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    1. So true Shail! A lot of how a child’s curious mind works can be attributed to the lifestyle and surrounding the child is growing in. And sadly, even today, a lot of children grow in households that consider sex and such relevant subjects taboo and forbidden. You’re so right about co-sleeping. There are parents who may not find anything wrong in letting their kids sleep with them while they have sex, but everything wrong and forbidden when the children get curious about the very relevant subjects.

      Can you share the link to the post on Sulekha. com, Shail?

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