This post should have been done 6 months ago. Because I had planned to send the Bean to school at 18 months. From sitting at the door like a little puppy and waiting for her brother to come home, to wailing loud and long as each member of the family left for school and office, and finally being consoled with a little school bag to parade around the house with, and a tiffin box, the Bean has done it all.
The OA and I hunted down schools all over again, decided against the Brat’s last playschool for all the reasons I had objected to him going to it in the first place and ended up not sending her anywhere.
It was October and the first excuse I found was that the change of season made her and other kids sick and with her asthma attacks I didn’t want her to keep falling sick. Then came January and err… oh yes – we didn’t have a second car and the school didn’t provide transport so that served beautifully as
an excuse a reason not to send her. Come February we were too busy to send her because we were chasing the Brat’s admissions, the OA was travelling and finally in March – umm… I ran out of excuses. At some point there was a chance of my office shifting to one of the suburbs and I decided that if that were the case we better move house closer to it as well as pick a school close by because I wanted to be close to her in case she needed anything.
And so it went on until I realised that there’s only so long you can put off the inevitable. At 2 she is old enough to go to playschool for a couple of hours and neither have I held her back too long. I guess the time is right and so she must go.
Anyway – so Sunday night I just decided that the Bean will go to school the next morning come what may, before I found a new excuse. And so we woke up and a confused Bean was dressed up. And she went around the house singing that she was going to the club to play. I had to disillusion her and tell her she was going to school. Which was equal cause for celebration and she continued to sing.
We reached school and I took her old maid along . The school has a system of allowing you to wean your child slowly. So you send a maid or a parent or anyone to sit with her for a while and then slowly stop attending. The Bean reached school and bounded out of my arms to hit the toy cars. As she went honking and driving around the school I paid up the fees, filled forms and basically signed away my sole rights to my daughter, agreeing to share my child’s rearing and time with the institution.
I left for office and the maid hid away while the Bean played in the sand pit. She didn’t ask for the maid and when she was picked up after an hour she howled in rage at having to be brought home while the other kids were still playing.
Day 2 and the Bean was falling over in excitement. She tugged at my dupatta as I got ready, got underfoot and between my legs and basically made getting to school fast, a matter of survival. We stopped at the ATM and for another chore on the way. Each time she screamed ‘School agaya. Comeon, comeon, comeon. Gitdown mama, hurry up.’ And was most unhappy when I told her we hadn’t yet got there. When we did indeed reach, she nosedived out of the car and I had to chase her to get a hold of her.
Another class was in the splash pond and it took all my adult weight to drag her 11 kilos away from the pond and take her to class. On the way we encountered the sandpit where another tug of war ensued and finally we got to class across what seemed to be designed as an obstacle race for parents getting kids to class. The maid stayed under cover and I opened the door to Bean’s class. And bedlam.
A plump old jolly looking teacher was running wildly around the class and an army of pygmies were running around with bats, thrashing something. ‘These are butterfly nets and we’re catching butterflies,’ explained the teacher. Right, I nodded politely, sending the Bean in to errr…catch butterflies with a bat. Had there really been any butterflies they’d have been buttered to a pulp by now.
The Bean disdainfully ignored the butterfly catching mayhem and settled down with an abacus. I slipped out. She was picked up by the OA – Repeat performance of the first day – she left thrashing and crying – much like the Brat on his first day.
Third day and she decided that come what may, she was going to pull my saree off me if I didn’t leave the house the moment she said so. I stood my ground and finally caved when she wanted ‘perfume in her gala.’
A little spray of perfume under her chin and then she was lost. The game is to get perfume sprayed and run to dada and say – ‘Smell me. I smell nice.’
Dada then smells her and tells her she’s the best little girl on earth and hugs her and looks at her fondly until you click in his face to break the spell.
But dada had left for office and she stood there uncertainly after it had been sprayed. Of what use was perfume if dada wasn’t there to smell it?
She figured I wasn’t the best but I’d do, so we went through the motions of me smelling the perfume and collapsing because she smelled so pretty….
And then we finally left for school. With her little elephant bag on her back, the bag has been christened Dumbo.
We reached school and this time Sati didi just hid at the gate. I think we’ll just be done with this by tomorrow. She’s done without her for three days so no point dragging poor old lady along to make school happy.
Again we battled evil plastic toy cars and bikes, the inviting paddle pool and the swings and the sandpit to reach her class. The moment I set her down she wailed and I was all… damn – I knew this was too good to last.
At which point she held up an admonishing finger and said .. ‘MAMA!! you VAAAARY naughty. You didn’t let me kheli in the matti (play in the sand) and you didn’t let me ‘sping’ (swing). I don’t want to talk to you.’
I looked as apologetic as I could while suppressing my giggles over ‘sping’. And then the teacher led her to the play gas stove. I sat on the floor in my silk saree and she made me endless cups of tea, knocked back gallons of ‘tea’ herself and finally when she looked away I made a getaway.
The old maid tells me she didn’t whimper through the day and that is that. It’s over. My daughter has officially been to school three days and loves it. My last little bird flew out of the nest happily.
Sadly, its such an irreversible thing. I could pull her out of school, but she’d still be the big girl who went to school for three days without a tear and was totally ready for it …
My cranky whiny daughter who started out life shrieking in horror if strangers touched her. I cannot begin to explain what a relief it is to me because of all things I hate, it’s shy children who hide behind mothers and cannot join other kids at play. The horror that mine might be one of those was more than I could bear.
On the other hand, this is the second baby I’ve send to school who has left without a backward glance at me. Damn – obviously no one loves me!
PS: My PC has crashed and I use the OA’s laptop when he is feeling generous so no pics in a while. Bear with me.