The Game: What are they getting?
Last weekend, I got a text from a friend saying she was at the game and saw my boys. Er, what game? Ateneo-La Salle. Oh.
It was another one of those heavy thuds in my heart and gut. My children are 11 and 7-years-old. Physically, they are small-boned and on the small side. They have even been called underweight, though the jury is out on that one. And I imagined them in the big coliseum with all the noise, screaming, cheering, booing, not to mention too-loud announcements, music, sound effects, the near-violent and erratic eruption of volatile emotions, adrenalin and general hemorrhage of hormones. Really. Just imagine the atmosphere. I whispered to their angels as I always do when they are in a less-than-ideal situation that is beyond my control. I envisioned them in a silent, peaceful sheath that was much bigger than the Araneta Coliseum or wherever it was the game was taking place.
Just imagine the vastness of the physical space and all that goes on there–seen and unseen, heard and silent. Then imagine the child with all their very sensitive and developing senses so open in their little physical bodies. How much of that could they understand, process, accept or filter? At their ages and with their physical constitution, all of that would simply enter and do what it will.
A few days later, they were scheduled to go on a school field trip to experience Impy Pilapil’s “12 Senses” interactive exhibit at the Ateneo campus. My older boy came out of his room wearing a blue t-shirt. At breakfast he said that if you weren’t in blue and had any kind of green on your shirt, you would get beaten up. My younger son became very quiet, but it didn’t take long before he changed from his striped t-shirt–which had hints of green in it–to something decidedly all-blue. Perhaps, something that would keep him safe. I said my piece about that being absolutely untrue, but my words were just that. At that moment, I thought about how insidiously fear can bloom in a child’s heart. On the bus ride home, I was informed that he was having a minor asthma attack. It occurred to me it might have been pent-up tension.
So, what, in the end did they take home from “The Game”? On the outside one can easily say I’m being too much of a mother hen. But am I? How do we really think children are formed, not just from the inside but from their experiences of the world–not just in what we deem to be major events in their biographies like trauma and illness, but especially by events we too easily dismiss as inconsequential–such as “a game”. How are such things as fear, safety and security formed in a child? How do they develop their own sense of what competition means or even success, play, triumph and failure? What were the other sensory events at the game? The hailing of Manny Pacquiao, for instance. The great modern-day Filipino hero. Hero? Why?
This is what it means to be a conscious parent–that we think about the children first. A game in itself is just that on the surface, but when you think about the complete picture–the children’s ages, their physical constitution, the general atmosphere of such a situation, the values, ideologies and world views they will be absorbing there, would you still bring them?
Each time we think of bringing our children anywhere or have them engage in any activity, it wouldn’t hurt to take a moment to ask,”What’s really in it for them?”.