Mommy, why can’t I play with my iPad?


Image: pixabay

It’s an incident that happened a few days ago when I was visiting my parents’ home. My 5-year old nephew was watching some cartoons on the iPad. In spite of umpteen warnings by my mother, he was still glued to the screen. A couple of hours later, my sister in law returned home. She saw his son still with the iPad. So, without warning, she just snatched the iPad from his hands. What followed next was totally unbelievable.

My nephew was first stunned. And then in the next second, he lied down on the floor, and started banging his fists and head in a full blown tantrum. Seriously, who throws a tantrum, that too over a tablet?

A few days ago, a similar thing happened with my daughter. As she is more vocal, she chose to express her feelings rather than throw a tantrum. She was playing Temple Run on my phone, when I told her to give my phone back. She first made a face, but then when she saw I was serious, she gave the phone back to me.

But not without throwing this loaded question at me – “Now what do I do?”

It made me realize that I took away an important thing from her. But, in return I was offering her nothing.

Also, threatening them with “age-old TV, phone or tablet is not good for your eyes” cuts little ice. They have heard this a million times if not more, and they don’t care. They have friends who wear cool blue, pink or yellow framed glasses and don’t think having weak eyes hampers their lifestyle even a bit.

Kids until they turn 7-8 years, unlike adults cannot stare into space or daydream for hours. They need an activity to keep them busy. And, more often than not, the onus falls on us, the parents.

I often look back upon my childhood and try to recall what I did when I was my daughter’s age. It was simple. We didn’t have TV then (except a couple of hours in the evening which at that point of time didn’t interest me much) and there were no electronic gadgets. But, I had siblings. So getting bored was never an option. There was always someone or the other to play with. I don’t ever recall my mother playing with us. She had enough on her plate with 3 children. But, today, our kids are alone. Many of them don’t have siblings. And with working parents, no one to play silly games with.

So before we snatch that iPad or phone or switch off the TV, we need to think of interesting options for our kids. It’s not right to just yell at them – Go in your room and play! No, that doesn’t work.

They need clear clues. Suggest – how about you do a bit of drawing or colouring. Get more lucid if you have to – “Would you like to draw a flower, mountains or your favourite friends?”

They need more options. You snatched their favourite toy even if you don’t think of it as one. So they are sulking. That means whatever you suggest won’t go down very well initially. Remember, how we behave when we are upset with things. We just can’t think straight or realize what is right for us. Hence, keep a multitude of options handy. Running out of them is not an option. Drawing colouring, making puzzles, playing with dolls or kitchen set, etc.

Encourage to play alone. Do not pity. Playing alone is neither a catastrophe, nor a punishment. Today’s kids have ample toys and games. It won’t hurt them to indulge in some alone time with their treasure.

Offer to play. Kids can play alone but not for long. And, you can’t have their friends over all the time. So, sometimes it’s advisable to offer to play with them. Unfortunately, I have realized I cannot play with dolls or tea parties with her. It’s just not in me. However, I can do activities with her – like I read to her, make puzzles, take her for a walk, play Frozen UNO cards, narrate stories or play board games with her. Find your niche and indulge in that activity with your child.

Don’t back down. Once you have decided to take the gadget away, stick to your decision. If you surrender now, you won’t get the same level of attention or respect the next time you choose to do it. So, however hard it may be for you, just stick to it.

At the end of the day, just remember, snatching away a gadget is not enough, even if it’s for a higher good, you need to replace it with something worthwhile (in your kids’ eyes).


Generation Next and the Technology

Generation Next and the Technology

At the first glance, I found this image funny and I also laughed a little. But the next moment when the implication hit me, I felt like howling. Of course, I didn’t do anything of that sort. But yes, it did compel me to snatch the iPad from my toddler who was playing with it. She did cry and howl as expected. But I stayed determined.

When the situation was calmer and under control, I thought about this again.

What sort of a future are we heading to?

When my daughter plays with the iPad or my phone, she becomes oblivious to the world around her. She forgets she is thirsty and hungry. She turns a deaf eye to our attempts to converse with her. And lastly which sends a chill down my spine, she doesn’t notice our absence too.

They may start with the Talking Tom but we don’t know where they will end.

Spending small amounts of time on the gadgets playing games is okay but staying glued to it day and night is totally unacceptable. They are kids, and hence should behave like kids.

  • They need to go out and play in the fresh air.
  • Read some books.
  • Engage with family members.
  • Make new friends.
  • Explore the world around them.

I am planning to unhook my child off the gadgets. If and when it happens, I will get back to you and share the tips with you. Meanwhile, if you have something helpful, do share. I’d really appreciate it.


Take a sneak-peak into my past, darling!

Dear Darling,

When I see you fidgeting with iPad or watching nursery rhymes on the TV, it inadvertently takes me to my childhood days.

paper boats in puddles

Image Courtesy:

Your jaw might fall down to know that we didn’t have iPads, smartphones; not even a mobile phone in those days. In fact, many houses didn’t even have a telephone. There was a big black box that rang only to convey important news; and not to chat silly with your friends for hours together.

There was a TV set alright. But only Black and white. There were no 24/7 broadcasting and no hundreds of channels. Only Doordarshan and that too worked from 8 to 10 pm only. Those 2 hours were your family time when all the family members came together to watch the TV.

When it rained, we didn’t hide ourselves in the room. On the contrary, we went outside to sail paper boats in the puddles and get drenched in the process. Oh, and the fury of the mother later!

You will be surprised to know that nobody knew of Friendship Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. There were only birthdays back then, and the only reason to visit the restaurants. Those outings were far and between; hence more precious.

When we said games, we didn’t mean games on Xbox, Nintendo or PS3. But we meant good old games in the open fresh air like hopscotch, color-color, hide and seek etc.

Sitting in a plane was something to be talked about for days together. So was a domestic vacation to Simla, Kullu-Manali, Kashmir etc.

Computer was something that we had only heard of, never seen. Nor did we feel the need of owning one.

It’s true I didn’t have many things as I grew up, but now when I look back, I realize what I had back then, I wouldn’t trade for any of the fancy gadgets of today. My childhood was not at all like yours. I won’t say it was better than yours but yes, it was definitely simpler.

Yours lovingly,

Nostalgic Mommy

Haircut, Dora the Explorer Shoes and One Stubborn Girl

You must be wondering if this title is making any sense at all. May be on the first read, no. But as the story unfolds, you will realize how apt it is. I remember my mama complaining, “If your child is even half as stubborn as you are, you will understand how difficult it is to be a mother of that child.” But at 5 – I didn’t understand that, at 10 – I ignored it, at 15 – I couldn’t care less for anything that my mama said and at 20 – I was bored of hearing the same oft-repeated dialogue.

But now when my daughter is 2, I understand the prophecy of my mother only too well. If I am/was stubborn, my daughter is a few notches ahead of me. Already.

Aanya admiring her Dora shoes

Aanya admiring her Dora shoes

She has a drawer full of shoes in all varieties, dainty sandals, flip flops, clogs, shoes, etc. Some have been bought by me while some gifted. Now having so many choices is a disadvantage that I have learnt the hard way. Of late, my little daughter wants to exert her freedom of choice. Which shouldn’t have been a problem if she understood a little. Now every time, she steps out she wants to wear shoes of her choice. And she points out at her lovely party-going shoes, Dora the Explorer. So whether she goes to her playgroup, visits her friend’s house or goes to the playground, she wants to wear her Dora shoes. Every time, invariably. And if you refuse her, she starts crying and throwing all sorts of tantrums. At the end, I hide those shoes lest they get spoiled with everyday wear and tear. Out of sight is out of mind. Why didn’t I think of it earlier? I am dreading the day when she will start selecting her clothes too. I am surely going to have a field time when that happens.

Now there’s another incident that’s recent and so very much in my mind. She is due for a haircut. I have a strong suspicion that she has magical hair that grows at the speed of grass in summer. After 15 days of getting a haircut, her bangs are already covering her eyes. But another haircut so soon when I am already reeling under the after effects of the previous one is just not possible. The little lady cries and cries and makes the simple procedure of 10 minutes stretched to an hour. Thankfully, the lady at the salon is a patient woman having a daughter the same age as mine. So I tie her hair in a pony tail and put some clips to hold the bangs in place. She put up a fight initially but when I told her ‘hairclips or haircut’, the choice was hers, she backed down. So now her hair looks neat held securely with hair ties/scrunchies and hairclips. But of late her hair has grown longer and looks untidy and unkempt. So being a holiday yesterday, I took her to the salon. We gave her all the props for distraction, chocolates, mobile phones, and other paraphernalia that the salon had. But to no avail. She didn’t let the lady cut her hair. Eventually, the salon lady suggested me to take her to a nearby men’s salon. She herself gets her daughter’s hair cut from them. So it might work out for my daughter as well.

Aanya and her fountain

Aanya and her fountain

Hoping against hope, I took her to the men’s salon. The salon was a small place but the all-male hair dressers looked inviting. They propped up some big cushions on the chair for my daughter and placed her there. Somebody even produced a chocolate for her which she readily grabbed from his hand. But as soon as she saw the scissors, she started howling. I am sure there must be people outside on the streets wondering what was happening inside. After 10 minutes of this drama, the ever-smiling lad got fed up and told me gently that he couldn’t cut the hair with her constant wriggling. She might get hurt. So thanking and apologizing at the same time to him and others in the shop, I left with my little howling daughter and the chocolate in her hand. She refused to let go of the chocolate even though she had done nothing to deserve it.

Once at home, I refused to talk to her. I was flushed with both embarrassment and anger. And my problem was still unresolved. Her untidy long hair. Now my last resort – her father is going to take her to the men’s salon on a Saturday with the iPad to keep her busy. That might do the trick. Keeping my fingers crossed!!!

And now I understand how it must feel to deal with a stubborn child. Sorry mama!!!

A mother’s fight against iPaddy

In between preschool, playground, napping, sleeping and eating hours, there is still ample time that I need to keep my toddler busy. I play hide and seek, catch a thief, and a few other nonsense games, but there’s still a lot of time to kill. Her cupboard is so full of toys that I have a tough time shutting it. And on most days, apart from her bedroom, these toys spill out on our sofa and behind it, on the tea poy, under the bed, in the kitchen and bathroom drawers. Did you just raise your eyebrows? Believe me, even I have been trying to figure out how they find their way there. She has colours, colouring/story books, toys, puzzles, dolls and Lego. But seems they are not enough. On her best days, I see her giving these toys a quarter of an hour of her precious time before ignoring them like proverbial poor cousins.

Then she comes to me and sits on my lap like a monkey. “Mamma, see TV. Teletubbies, rhymes, Tinky Winky, see Laa Laa jumping.” And when I don’t seem to take her hint, she stops beating around the bush and comes directly to the point. “Mamma, put, put TV.” Next she comes to me and says, “Mamma, give Aanya iPad.” And once I oblige, the whole world is forgotten. The clingy daughter suddenly becomes daughter cool and detached.

A mother’s fight against iPaddy

I admit these gadgets have made my life a tiny bit easier. I get time to attend peacefully to my ever-piling list of chores or try to get some quiet time alone with my husband. But I know I am feeding a monster. It won’t be long before these little episodes with iPad, iPhone or other gadgets blow into a full time habit. She is small, so it’s easier to distract her. But it won’t be long before she starts throwing tantrums or iPaddy (the newest term for this kind of behaviour) when these gadgets are taken away from her.

Well, being a mommy I have my own ways of dealing with the situation. In short, my rules which she needs to abide by.

Gadgets belong to the house and parents. You cannot lay sole claim to them. Share them with your sibling.

You get one gadget hour daily. No more except may be on holidays.

No, the gadgets can’t sit with us at the dining table. So leave them behind.

You want a fancy gadget of your own? Wait till you are 15 or earn it.  

The day you misbehave/break a rule, also say bye-bye to the gadget hour.

Have you finished your homework/assignment/household chores? Go, complete it before you touch the gadgets. And no cheating. Remember, your mommy wasn’t born yesterday.

Don’t mishandle the gadget. It costs a lot of money to buy one.

Buying/downloading apps without permission is a no-no. Don’t even try it. Anyway, it is password protected. Don’t look surprised, yes, your mommy is smart.

Do you think I have my work cut out for me? Well, I definitely feel so.