I watch at the iPad screen as my 4-yr old points me to a
score of 137,298. He cannot read yet,
but knows it’s a big number judging by the long sequence of digits. This is his
personal new-high in Temple
Run - the mobile video game
where you as a treasure hunter, have to outrun demon monkeys, deadly traps, and
other obstacles, while collecting gold coins on the way.
|Running is all that matters!|
The score has intrigued me. Especially since that kind of
number never ever flashed up during my casual-yet-competitive video-gaming
endeavors to-date. <To my defense, games designers back then never thought
that big!> I decide to watch him. I want to know how he does it.
But the next few tries does not prove to be that lucky for
him. He has not hit the 100K mark. Though the mom in me is happy, the spectator
in me is losing interest. I walk away thinking this would be the end of his
playing session. But five minutes later, he’s back with a happy squeal. “Great.
How did you do it?” me, trying to show enthusiasm. “If you keep trying, you can
reach bigger score also”.
trying, is it?!”
So I challenge him to beat his last score. I notice this
time around he doesn’t bother to pick up the gold coins on his left or right.
I’m naturally curious. “If you move to the side, the monkeys attack you, Mumma!”
<Note to self: He does understand the concept of “watch and
learn”, just refrains from applying it when I’m teaching him alphabet
In fact, I get inkling that he’s learnt his first lesson in risk-taking.
Evaluate your options. You need to forgo gold coins at times, especially when
they come at a higher cost.
But I can’t help myself prompting him whenever I see a long
sequence of gold coins, just waiting to be picked up. “You win by running, Mumma” <which in the context
means remaining alive> he tells me, with an almost exasperated expression. Hmm…so you mean gold coins are not that
important after all? Well, Did he just preach me the essence of life, a la Dalai
Lama style, in his game lingo? Profound!
Now I’m not a big proponent of video games or anything (And
trust me, Temple Run is not paying me any commission either), but I find myself
reflecting on this experience, and realizing, Didn’t he just learn about not giving up, taking calculated risks, and
focusing on what’s truly important? I wonder if it would have been possible to
teach him all this, if it had not been for the stimulating environment of the
More importantly, what chance do my sermonizing nags have
against these entertaining mediums he’s learning from!
So here’s my tip #1 for all the new-age parents: Teaching cannot
be banal anymore. Either be entertaining, or be forgotten. I say, start looking for animation and speech
modulation workshops, if you remotely aspire to impart any of your life
learning to your children.
Consequently, new-age parenting tip # 2 is: Make peace with
the fact that your children are learning some good positive things from their
environment and the resources at their disposal, however eerie they may seem to you. (And if you cannot figure out what these good
positive things are, you’re not thinking hard enough!)
By the way, energized by his valor, I decided to try my hand at Temple Running.
I gave up after 12,455. I guess it requires focus and commitment. Wish I’d learnt
that from him!
Here’s my last tip on new-age parenting: Ask not what you’ve taught your children. Ask
instead what have you learnt from your children!