Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yes. No. Maybe. Let's do it!

This was precisely how I felt about sending my 1 year 11 month old son Lil' General to school. A few days before Diwali, one morning I was absolutely sure LG should start school soon. It was becoming impossible to match up to his energy levels and hop from one room to another pulling down stuff, unplugging TV, switching on/off DVD players, stacking 3 DVDs into the player and when it refused to open up scuttling for a screw driver and throwing tantrums on realizing it is safely locked in the tool cabinet with the key out of his reach, three trips to the park, visiting every neighbor whose doors were open, a peaceful 30 minute walk and still I would run out of things to engage him.

With nap times dwindling from 3-hour sessions to a meager 1.5 hour one coupled with his excitement on our visit to Kidzee and another playschool nearby, I knew it was the right time for him to start schooling provided he enjoyed his time there.

I was clear on what I wanted from the play school LG would go to.

1. He should enjoy himself. This came on top above everything else - size, fees, big/small etc. For I knew, if this happened everything else would automatically fall into place. If the space was open and large, it was but natural for him to feel comfortable. He loves being outside than in confined spaces.

2. Proximity. I was no way going to let him go by a bus..not yet atleast. Which meant I would have to drop him and pick him every morning and the commute had to be quick so as not to be tiring for him either.

3. Attitude of the people who run the school. It had to be something small and cosy; nothing fancy with over-the-top facilities or ultra-rich kids coming to study. I want the place to give him pleasant memories and the 'want' to go back the next morning and not dread it as I did as a child.

My first schooling was amongst 1st graders when I was 3 years old because the place we lived in did not have a kindergarten. I dreaded going to school to be among older kids and would always stare out of the window to get a glimpse of mom (the classroom had a view of our home across the road). The fear of school stayed on for long so much so that I was the most happy on the last day of my Engineering - the thought of never having to go back to studying was very comforting. On the other hand, my brother with a formal education starting with kindergarten cemented some of his best friendships at school and was quite delighted to leave home every morning. The Seniol narrates similar tales of his schooling days. I want LG to have pleasant memories and exciting tales to tell when he grows. I don't know how much of his play home days he'll remember but now when he goes there, I want him to go because he likes to be there not because I get a 3-hour-break from my active toddler.

4. Montessori - I preferably wanted a Montessori system where he would get the opportunity to mingle with kids older his age and everything else that goes with it. I didn't care as much if he learns A B C at 2 years or 3 years. It's the least on my priority. Every time a neighbor points out that their son/daughter/grandson seconds the "A" with a "B" or goes on to rat 1..2..3 I don't give two hoots to it. A lot of time to catch up on the ABCs and colors.

Of all the playschools in the area, one in particular fitted all my criteria and I was all set to enroll him immediately after Diwali until someone said someone else had a bad experience. You know how rumors spread about these things with no concrete evidence. I didn't want to go ahead even with a tinge of doubt so I met the person who supposedly had the bad experience. She said the "allegations" were baseless and that she loved the school. I met one other parent who were sending their kids there. Two visits later, I just made up my mind one evening - much to the disappointment of LG's grand parents who thought he was too young to start school.

Oscillating between "yes", "no" and "maybe" had given me sleepless nights. You know how it is - to take decisions single-handed when your partner is away on work (or study!). And when it concerns a child, it gets all the more tricky for there is no one to second you. With the much-needed support from The Seniol and my father as always, I took the plunge not caring about popular opinion. In a jiffy shopped for water bottle, snack box and a few other essentials and we were all set to start school the next morning. Don't get me started yet as to how ridiculously expensive kids essentials are. A water bottle for Rs.250..are you kidding me? Anyways, got one for him. Was excited about the thought of LG getting ready for school and no compromises on anything. Until I reached the bag section and figured nothing cost less than Rs.600. Which is when I realized, we had a whole bag factory at home with our warehouse of Nike (from The Seniol's days at Nike), and American Touristers. One particular red AT bag was perfect for LG - just about his size and compact without the standard Mickey Mouse, Donald Ducky figures.

It's funny what took months of planning and contemplation turned out to be a non-event. More on it in the next post.


Stacey Kannenberg said...

I loved your post! Happy getting ready for school...!

Smiles - Stacey

L said...

Thank you, Stacey!