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A Grandma's Olden Day Games
    2007-07-20 14:31:56     CRIENGLISH.com

An old Barbie doll, a rusty toy car, a set of faded wooden blocks these childhood toys never fail to stir tender feeling in the heart of adults. However not so for Grandma Wang whose childhood lacked even these hallmark toys. Wang Jingxiang, a Beijing resident in her 60s, recalls that catching fish as her favourite childhood game.

"I was born in 1946, at that time the People's Republic of China was not yet founded. Life was tough and people were not well-off. So from an early age, many children knew how to help their mom with the housework. Our games usually came from our housework. For me, my favorite game was catching fish. As there were many rivers beside my family home, fish was the main item on our daily menu. My little brother and I were responsible for catching them. When it was raining and the other children hurried back home, we happily rushed to the riverside, anticipating a good catch."

Grandma Wang says it was such a great pleasure to net a few fish, flooding them with the joy of achievement and providing a good meal for the family! For Wang Jingxiang, the joy of fishing also lay in making her own tools. Nets and forks became her hand-made 'toys'. These unplugged, pollution free toys exercised her hands and mind. What's more, she developed life-long good habits through it, being economical and self-reliance. Grandma Wang explains.

"We picked many castor-oil plants, sliced them into strips, dried them, and then connected them with thin thread. It was easy. On rainy days, my brother and I, equipped with home-made coir raincoats, put on our old straw hats and happily set out for our fishing."
While shifting through her memories, Wang Jingxiang could not help but smile. As the grandma of a one-year-old boy, she is witness to her grandchild's experience of a totally different kind of childhood. Instead of envying his material wealth, she is quite worried at times.

"It's fine if you have money and you want to buy toys. But what if someday you don't have any money? I can't imagine a generation like my grandson, who are used to things ready-made and overwhelmed by choices. "

Wang Jingxiang's hancrafted toys are of no use today, as they hardly attract the young. It's a pity as there is so much to learn from the old games. Grandma Wang illustrates this through a folded paper game.

"The toy for this game was made of paper. Only recycled paper could be employed as the material for making it. People of my age may still remember how economical we use to be with paper. First, we would write in pencil on both sides of the pages, then in pen we would write for a second time. Only after all that was done, when the paper was filled, could it be used in the game."

Appropriate behavior comes from good habit, and good habits should be developed from an early age. How to nurture the children of today and present them with better games, is perhaps something for Grandma Wang to teach.




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