Playing of video games seems to quickly descend into accusations and recriminations; disappointment and tears; rising of voices and increasing anger and frustration (then the threats to turn it off if they can’t play nice)…and this all during relatively benign games that require cooperation.
Change of scenery, some play outside, left to their own devises (no controllers) and imagination (no dictating screen) and nature (a veritable endless world to explore and engage with).
Found the boys huddled around something on the table. A scene resembling the construction of a colourful salad; complete with various greens, flowers and buds. A drop of water added and a perfect droplet formed thanks to the beauty of the surface tension of the water droplet and the lotus effect created by the surface of the leaf.
Boys deep in discussion and running off every now and then to collect more pieces of plant; the odd stone – quietly and cooperatively working together.
More bits added more discussions had. My curiosity peaked I asked the boys what they were doing.
‘Making a habitat for “Gumball”‘
‘Gumball? Who’s Gumball’
‘Our Butchy boy‘
‘Yes we are making him a home and giving him some food and water’
Now my normal inclination would be to say no; we need to release him back into his (her?) natural habitat. We need to respect animals (and plants) and leave them where we find them. But this was somewhat of an ‘aha’ moment for me. Seeing the boys playing so beautifully, seeing how tenderly they were tending to this tiny creature,seeing how beautifully they were playing together in their care for ‘Gumball’; the ‘rules’ were suspended.
So an appropriate container was acquired and my little zoo keepers went on to display a degree of knowledge and skill that surprisingly surprised me. Is seems that many of our conversations about caring for animals had stuck.
The following are just some of the snippets of conversations that took place between the boys
‘We need to make sure he can breath…yes we will need to put some holes in the container…we better no close it until we can put some holes in it…mum can you…?
‘We will need to find a girl for Gumball so that they can have babies…but we won’t be able to keep the babies because there won’t be enough room in the container so we will need to release them’
‘We will need to find out what Butchy boys eat so we can feed him properly…mama what do Butchy Boys eat?’
So five days later and ‘Gumball’ is still being lovingly cared for (not fought over) he has received fresh food and water and he has been taken for show and tell. The play has shifted from being ‘directed’ (by the game) to that of ‘inquiry’; searching for answers (of how to look after Gumball) as apposed to frustrated by not knowing how.
What price is being paid into the future where children do not have these experiences, where the majority of interactions are with artificial worlds…