I have asked to remain anonymous in this story as the tale is not a fairy story but true and therefore the client identity must remain confidential.
I work in the third sector for a charity where workers visit the homes of clients. On an initial visit we are not allowed to undertake lone working and we have to visit in pairs. I was accompanying a colleague visiting a client for the first time for a two hour visit. I was there to observe whilst my colleague questioned the client.
The client was the mother of twin girls, aged nearly four with no diagnosed mental or physical health issues, and she was pregnant with her third child. The twins did not attend playgroup or nursery. The client’s problems do not come into this story as I just want to tell you what happened with the twins. As an observer I was supposed to do just that or if necessary, play with the two children, so my colleague could engage with the client.
The children were clean and obviously reasonably well fed but still in nappies. There was a large, flat screen TV turned on in the room but with no sound on. Now the sad thing about these girls is that there was not a single toy anywhere to be seen no blocks, puzzles, books, no sign of bikes or anything that could be used in a physical manner. They were staring at the TV but after some time got bored. I asked Mum if they had any toys and I would play with them, she replied “no” because they had “IPads and liked Angry Birds”. I played Angry Birds for a while. Ha! I got bored so I’m not surprised the girls did.
So to stop them grizzling, and help my colleague, I said we would play a game. They looked at me in wonder. There were three trainers lying on the floor and a couple of cushions. I asked Mum if I could put down more cushions, she said “yes”. I made islands and I told the girls the trainers were fish and they had to jump from cushion to cushion and try not to step on the “fish”. These two girls struggled with the task they just were not used to using their limbs. I started to help them in turn, holding their hands and supporting their arms, helping them jump. After an hour I was exhausted but they were loving the game. Their features had become animated and they were giggling and shouting “more” when I said I needed to sit for a minute. They scrambled all over me and cried when it was time for us to leave. They asked would I come and visit again and play with them.
These two young children are not counted as being neglected but their only toys are electronic gadgets or the TV. Small children need to develop their fine and gross motor skills, they need to build towers, fix puzzle pieces together and draw with crayons. They need to be outside running and jumping, climbing and being intellectually challenged by physical activity. I understand that some parents do not have the educational or learned parental skills for this but we must ensure that children do not become tied to the electronic world where physical activity is odd to them. It is so important that there are people like Aveling Adventure who can provide what some parents lack. Let’s make sure the new generation get outside and PLAY!