Entertainment Tonight

Usually, around this far out from travelling with the kids, I panic and buy something. A new colouring book. Magnetic putty. Pharmaceuticals.

Gotcha! You thought I'd say beer or wine.

Aha, gotcha! You thought I’d say beer or wine.

But something from the last trip has changed all that. Well, alright, travelling overnight and the prospect of Christmas presents and our children’s continuing development has something to do with it, but for the sake of the narrative let’s focus on the children of India, and also its glass surfaces. And after that, some upcoming experiments in fun.

Children Of India

I’ve had arguments before about this, but I remain unpersuaded. I just don’t believe parks and playgrounds are provided for the purpose of teaching children how to barricade themselves within fortresses of their own, material possessions, which they should viciously defend. (Although I acknowledge that, in some parts of the world, this is considered not so much a useful skill as a way of life.)

Now, perhaps there are plenty of kids in India barricading themselves with their material possessions, but the parks we visited were havens of cooperative and imaginative play, and it struck me all over again how much more easily this happens when there’s nothing to play with.

More or less nobody brought toys. There wasn't even a swing set.

More or less nobody brought toys. There wasn’t even a swing set.

The kids turned paper into cricket balls and sticks into bats. They turned a solitary stuffed toy into a hundred and one games to play with a stuffed toy. My role was reduced to impersonating Gandalf The Pastel and Beige:

Eventually I kind of nailed it.

Eventually I kind of nailed it.

Everywhere we went, older kids seemed to accept that it was their purpose and duty to entertain the younger kids so the adults could hold a sensible conversation. It happened too often to be coincidence;  I swear the adults had done something to induce it, and I am keen to know, exactly and in detail, what it was, either by finding someone who can tell me, or (because I often like to do things the hard way) by depriving my children of toys until we work it out together through a painful process of trial, error, and even more trial.

In any case, I’ve been feeling a lot less urge to do this:

Oh look, she's using the fire hydrant as a ship's wheel! I wonder how much decommissioned freighters go for these days?

Oh look, she’s using the fire hydrant as a ship’s wheel! I wonder how much decommissioned freighters go for these days?

The other thing that moved me was the realisation that I went way over the top with my Toybox In Your Hair idea, which worked, but honestly a few pieces would have worked just as well (also, the excess that I was planning to use as gifts should have been filed separately – the original lab report now has an updated “results” section at the bottom.)

Glass Surfaces of India

One of the things I panic-bought before our Indian adventure was a set of crayons for drawing on windows. Once I hit publish here, I’ll try and remember to add them to my Kids’ Travel Entertainment post under “bad ideas”.

They weren’t an unmitigated disaster. The kids spent ten or so tranquil minutes on this masterpiece at our accommodation:

Window crayon drawing on glass table.

And they’re handy for drawing on glossy magazines:

Window crayons on glossy magazines.

But there are two problems. Firstly, they’re not as easy to clean off the glass as the packet leads you to believe, and secondly, it freaks flight attendants out if your kids take to drawing on the plane’s portholes. Maybe because the flight attendants have tried to clean the stuff off before.

I would probably advertise them to kids as “glossy magazine crayons”, rather than “window crayons”, and even then I’d be tempted to keep them from real youngsters.

If I was taking my own car on a long road trip, and I wasn’t very fussy about my car, and my kids were six years old and above, I might consider encouraging them to draw on the windows. Disclaimer: the “six and above” estimate is based mostly on my optimism that P will grow out of deliberately drawing on our walls within the next six months, and not on any sort of developmental knowledge or experience.

Update: Christy of Kids R Simple suggests using these crayons on a photo frame instead of a window (with or without a photo inside the frame). The travel version would involve a pocket-sized photo album, I guess.

Experiments In Fun

That’s not to say I’ll be throwing it all to the wind, mind you. I’ll be trialling a couple of new experiments on this trip: tin foil crafts and, from the same Free But Fun blogger who brought you tin foil crafts, the sock memory game, which I may expand into the underwear sorting game or the hey! guys! it’s so fun to take out the rubbish and mop the floor! game. And the carry-your-own-darn-bags game. And the OMG would you keep up already if I go any slower I’ll be walking backwards game. And the stop hitting your sister game.

I’ll also be making use of P’s newfound abilities to read and write, plus a pencil and paper. The opportunities that await! (If you could remind me of any of those opportunities, that’d be good. I can think of Hangman, and, uh, Sudden Death Hangman…)

We are already pretty good at "apology note" and "short discourse on what I should have done differently just now".

We are already pretty good at “apology note” and “short discourse on what I should have done differently just now”. (The note reads: Stop and think about what you are going to do and if it’s bad stop starting to do it.)

And of course I’ll be getting the kids to watch this (thanks Where’s My Backpack for sharing it):

Join Our Group Experiment!

We’ll also be tackling P’s Project Noah Mission – Airport Naturalist. Project Noah is a collaborative wildlife spotting community website, and P suggested we create a “mission” dedicated to spotting wildlife around airports (because he likes animals, and he likes planes).

Anyone (with a nearby airport) can participate. You just have to create an account, click “join” from our mission home page and start uploading. There’re even apps to make it easier to upload spottings when you’re out and about at, for example, the airport.

If planes aren’t your thing, check out the other missions, or create your own (and let me know!)

We don't know what this insect is either, but we know where we saw it!

We don’t know what this insect is either, but we know where we saw it and now the whole world can, too!

So there you have it. India (and/or night flights and/or my children’s increased developmental maturity) has temporarily cured me of panic buying toys in the face of a long journey. Window crayons – not so much. New experiments in entertainment coming up. Pen and paper word games ideas wanted.

Packing to do. Planes to catch. Adventures to pursue.