A record breaking summer – how my kid learnt an important life lesson

Summer holidays are every mother’s nightmare. Either the kids are always outside courting a heatstroke and dehydration or they just are endlessly couch-surfing on Gameboy or television. 
So it was a joking (and partially sarcastic) remark that set off the chain of events that followed. One day, after silently seething through yet another marathon session of television watching, I remarked that maybe he should attempt a world record at continuous television watching; he’d surely win.

The next day he came and told me that it was 87 hours. What was 87 hours, I asked. He replied that the current standing world record for continuous television watching was 87 hours.  My first reaction was that it was a silly record and that it was easy to break.  

But apparently the discussion had sparked off something in him. Over the next few days, I found him trawling through the net and making a list of world records. I was happy that he had found a project for himself. I was thinking that he could probably write an essay on it for school.  Guess I didn’t really know my son all that well. He was thinking something very different. He wanted to set his own world record!!

He showed me a list of records that had caught his fancy. First of all, he told me that the Guinness book of records was just one of the organisations that recognised such achievements. There were a least 3 or 4 other such organisations, including our own Limca book of records. And records of achievements varied from serious human endeavours that called for great strength or valour or hardship, or there were ones that could be termed silly like number of underwear that one could put on or number of balloons that one could break by sitting on them.

The next few days he was either raiding the house to find things with which to attempt a record, like juggling with onions (I did put my foot down when he wanted to try with eggs) or making paper planes to make them fly the longest distance, or he was pestering me to take him shopping to buy cards (largest card stacking), dominos (longest domino chain), oranges (fastest time to eat 3 oranges); or timing him trying to stand on one leg, doing jumping jacks or slow cycling.     

Not that I actually expected him to break any records, but this was a side that I hadn’t actually seen in my son. Determination, perseverance and the power to dream big.  He was not only determined to do something big but also prove that not only could he do it well, but better than anyone else.  This was not just a hobby or time pass, it was a life lesson.

What he finally zeroed on, much to my consternation was breaking the record for maximum points on fruit ninja.  4700  points.  Silly as it may sound to most parents, video games require intense amounts of patience, concentration, dexterity of fingers. All of which are necessary traits for life.

So instead of dismissing it, I encouraged him.  I gave him enough alone time. I learned to play the game myself so that I could provide him with some impetus. I even spread the word around to his friends so that he had both competition and encouragement. 

I am a follower of Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. And the one thing that they have proved is that the first step to success is to dream big. The path to achieving the dream would then open up. And that is a life lesson that I would certainly encourage in my son.

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