The big school saga

It’s been two years and the Brat hasn’t got into a single decent school. I write this post in utter despair. The first year, I stuck to my guns. While others were wining and dining the board of directors and saving money to bribe, I said we’d get our child into school the right way, or not at all.

Of course we all know how that went. The Brat got into the terrible terrible school, got beaten up,  lost his spirit, lost his love for school and became a scared, confused three year old. We pulled him out and spent the last year or so, repairing the damage done. But really – can you repair a damaged psyche like a punctured tyre? How long do the scars remain?

Anyhow  – this year we threw our caution and our values and principles to the wind and approached people who knew politicians, we begged family and friends. We asked everyone we knew. We wrote letters, we stood at school gates every morning before we went to work, our eyes bloodshot and our bodies sagging against the gate post.

So many people promised to help. Many of them just didn’t bother. I realise that as conversation goes, its not the most interesting conversation to have. But I notice people will expect you to sit through their  recital of how much of a bitch their boss is, or how this colleague screwed them over, or how they’re going through a bad relationship bump, but your problem of not getting your child into a school is somehow just plain boring and dismissed with “God, are you still whining about that? I am aware that I’ve lost a few friends over the last year because they haven’t seen enough of me. Because I am not sparkly, partying, picking up the phone for chats etc. But with the weight of everything that landed on us last year, the OA and I have really figured out who our real friends are. Those who actually showed up with food at our doorsteps when my knee couldn’t take the stress anymore. Who called in every contact and favour they had to help our son. Who offered to babysit our son while the nth maid walked out and our daughter was being rushed to the doctor.

But I also realised how glib and false the words flow. People shrugged aside our fears saying – oh God, you two look tired all the time. Or – don’t worry, I know enough people to get your kids in to this school or that. Or worse – just joked and shrugged it off because it didn’t even seem like a big enough deal to warrant a few minutes of serious conversation. I’m sorry to sound so bitter.

But when you’re an educated woman. A journalist with a well known company. When your husband is an investment banker and has two post graduate degrees to show – you sort of imagine that a basic education for your child is a given. That he won’t have to go to the local pathshala under a tree and get caned. But apparently even that is too much of an expectation.

The schools flout rules with impunity – 13 lakhs bribe for the top school – and never mind the fact that the fees are close to Rs 2 lakhs a year. A peon somewhere takes Rs 30,000 to change your points on the computer. The line between begging for a favour and actually doing something illegal is a fine one and the OA and I wobbled woefully on it for a long time before giving up yet again. This just wasn’t us. After the first political encounter we knew we couldn’t do anymore.

February 15th. Every single school list was out and this year we had two reasons to mourn. A son and a daughter who hadn’t got through any decent school after 18 applications. That night the OA and I took the weary three flights up to our home with heavy hearts.

A quiet dinner where neither of us spoke. We’d failed our children. Both of them. I look back on the board exams that I took 15 years ago. My fingers trembling. I think of the results coming out and my knees shaking as I saw my marks. Unwilling to believe I’d actually I passed I took an envelope and placed it under my name, following the row of marks because I couldn’t believe my eyes…

We did the same this time with our children… except that the envelope under their names didn’t give us any good news. The OA and I are not alumni, we’re not Delhiites, we don’t have national awards, we’re sadly, not divorced either (yes, single parents get marks for some strange reason!).  We’ve failed in the single most important thing we owe our children – an education.

I went to the Brat’s nursery school the next day – and the principal agreed to keep him on one condition. That I take him for psychological evaluation to understand why he is a dreamer. I made the mistake of mentioning it to my parents and had a huge showdown with them. They were very upset with the principal’s diagnosis – at the notion that  their grandson was less than perfect. God save us from enraged grandparents of the world.

I was so tired. So tired of defending him to the principal. Tired of defending the principal’s prerogative to my parents.  Tired of the whole admission saga. The OA came home to a wife who was sobbing in a corner. I didn’t want to be a parent who lives in denial. I didn’t want to be the parent who labels her son either. I didn’t want to have to argue this with my parents because it is I who am responsible for getting him into a school and if the school has set a condition that they will only keep him after evaluation – well, I had no choice, did I? Beggars can’t be choosers.

In the meantime we applied to some other schools for any vacancies that they might have in KG this year and the Brat was called for a written test on a certain date. But before that, the psychologist’s appointment came up. She’s a well known child psychologist and we waited a month for an appointment.

Never having done this before we had no idea what to prepare the Brat for and just went with the flow. As we opened the  door we heard an unearthly howling. The Brat shrank and we wondered again if we were harming him further. We entered to find a room full of people waiting and a terribly mentally disturbed boy prowling around the room wailing. He was in his late teens and he passed us, howling and screaming. The Brat turned grey and I made the OA take him out while I registered us. We then waited out on the road until our turn.

The doctor who met us was a lovely lady and she heard us out. I’d carried his artwork, his report cards, his diary with his weekly school report and evaluation and she gave us a lot of time. In the midst of this the Brat played in a corner. Putting together a tower, lying on a cushion, reading a book… She chatted with him and he answered her enthusiastically.

His problem, she said – is that he is very bright and he expects people to keep up with his chain of thought without providing them links. So they chatted about airplanes where he told her that he liked the MIGs and the AWACs – airforce aircrafts that most 4 year olds are unaware of. From there he moved on to the Hawk and the Heron. Then telling her that hawks also swoop down and carry away prey. On gentle probing he looked at her impatiently and said – “A hawk is a bird and it’s also the name of an aircraft.”

Which was basically the crux of the matter. His mind leaps from topic to topic and you’re expected to understand why it’s taking the path it is.  His drawings aren’t the usual straight pointy triangular hills most kids draw. He wants to draw rockets and snakes and colours them wildly.

The principal in a conversation with me pointed out that he finds it hard to communicate with his peers because they talk of stuff he doesn’t know. Oggy and the cockroaches, Ben 10, the row of malls close to our home, Coke and Pepsi. I sighed as I responded to her. He doesn’t drink Coke not because I am a protective mother but because neither the OA nor I like aerated drinks and just don’t end up keeping any at home. He doesn’t watch cartoon network and those awful Japanese cartoons because he watches football with the OA at times, at others he watches his Disney cartoons like Bambi or Dumbo and a lot of Animal Planet and Discovery. He doesn’t go to malls because the OA and I love spending time outdoors ourselves. I love gardening and he loves planting rajma and watching it grow. How then is he to know differently? Maybe its our parenting to blame but this is our lifestyle and we’re being asked to change our core beliefs to fit in. Isn’t this peer pressure at the most basic level?

What next? Ask him to drink and drive because his classmates are doing it and he must be able to relate to them? do drugs because he’s got the be able to discuss the different kinds of highs with his peers? Weed as opposed to magc mushrooms? Have unprotected sex because it is cooler? I mean why penalise the poor kid because his parents are pathetically square?!

The psychologist spent an hour chatting with him and in the midst of it another big man threw open the door and barged in, stepping heavily on my foot so that I yelped. He sat down at the table with unseeing eyes and said in a childlike voice that it was his turn. I quietly got up and slid closer to the Brat who was looking at him curiously and getting worried. I started reading a book to him while the man’s mother and the doctor persuaded him to leave our counselling room.

At the end of the session the doctor said she saw nothing wrong with the Brat. Said she “He is bright and gets bored at the pace the school is taking – he hates repetition. Which is why he tunes out when they’re being taught things that they must repeat. His brain moves quickly from topic to topic and he expects you to keep up (which is something I do too – much to the OA’s frustration) – he won’t spoon-feed you the links.” She ended by saying he was an unbelievably lovable child.

She then gave us some questionnaires for his class teachers to fill out so that they could point out what they felt was the problem because she saw none. At this point the OA and I pointed out that we’d not wanted to sound like parents in denial but we felt he was being labelled and we didn’t want him to carry that label throughout his life.

Anyhow – the next morning was the entrance exam to a school we’d got a chance to apply to with a lot of difficulty. After much preparation we reached the school gate and the teachers asked us to wait at the entrance while they led the Brat in to the classroom where he would be tested. As luck would have it, the Brat just smiled sweetly, dug in his heels and displayed his Taurean  bullishness saying, ‘Walk up to the class with me, Mama…’ I saw his point of view. After his last bad experience with big school he was terrified by the strangers, the huge buildings, the strangeness of it all. All he wanted was for me to walk him to the door of the classroom.

And the authorities stood their ground. They were not going to make an exception for him. No matter what. We wasted 45 minutes standing at the gate and I was by that time on the verge of suicide. Here was our last chance slipping away because my son was scared and the school wouldn’t accommodate a 4 year old. Gritting my teeth I begged the Brat to go in, grateful we weren’t alone or I’d have smacked him in despair. Finally the OA just said, ‘Babe, we’re not putting him in a school that won’t be flexible enough to understand that a 4 year old may feel nervous walking into a new school on the first day. We’re just not those parents. We believe in a different philosophy.’

Yeah, I thought bitterly, a philosophy that doesn’t believe in sending our kid to school at all, at this rate. And we walked away with a bemused Brat who wasn’t sure why he hadn’t been chastised for his stubbornness. Anyhow, the forms that his teachers had to fill had come back to us – full of praise for him. The OA and I looked at each other in confusion. What on earth? Why then had we been sent to the shrink? What need was there to put our son through that terrifying experience? Grown men howling, slippers flying across the room… .

Come report card day we were told that the Bean was sort of unofficially first in class (they don’t mark ranks on the report card anymore) and this inspite of being a good 6 months younger and coming in 4 months late. Something that makes a huge difference at the age of 3. The Brat too had made huge progress and was somewhere in the middle of class inspite of the learning and social disability scare. We spoke to the principal who agreed that all was well and the Brat and Bean could stay on another year.

As luck would have it, just then they got through yet another good school in the suburbs. And here’s the beauty of it. It was a school that called us in for interviews and invited the babies for interaction too. Because my kids delight in being contrary and driving me nisane, they were at their charming best. The Brat shyly and gently tugging at the head mistress’ arm to tell her how the wheels in an airplane go in as the flight takes off, and did she know that it’s called the undercarriage? And the Bean officiously walking around, reciting rhymes to anyone who would spare her a minute. The OA and I relaxed, sat back and let the kids earn themselves a seat where we had as parents, completely failed.

For years young parents have argued and fought saying that kids should not be interviewed. And the year the Brat started school was the year this rule came into force. As it happens, it was the worst thing that could happen to us, because there we are, non-Delhiites, with two bright kids, who didn’t get a seat anywhere because we don’t fit the other criterion.

They both got admission of course. Insanely expensive and yet, we had no choice. Thats when the practical questions began to sink in. How were we going to send them that far every morning? Were we, *gulp* going to have to move to the dreaded suburbs so early in life? I know I need atleast a year more at work before I quit and go back to freelancing because commuting from the suburbs as a journalist, was not my idea of a life. I have events to cover all over the city and the OA who is travelling more often than he is in town, would need an extra hour to get to the damn airport. Anyhow…

We went to their playschool to give our notice, get our refund, thank the Principal for her time and patience with the Brat who had blossomed. She  congratulated us on the progress the kids had made and then gently suggested that we don’t move the kids. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The OA and I stared at her and then at each other in complete helplessness. Now what? ‘Well, the Brat had only been back here eight months and she didn’t want him disturbed since he’d recovered so well. The Bean can go anywhere she said. She’s a confident little thing and I have no fears for her.’ But we were certainly not going to send our 3 year old off alone to the suburbs everyday while our son went to school next door.

And so it is, ladies and gentlemen that we’re back at square one. The Brat and Bean stay on here. They go to school for this last year here (the Bean gets one more year if we want)  and then the Brat takes tests next year to go to Class 1 in big school. And as I see his confidence grow I am happier with this situation than I was with him just getting into any neighbourhood school regardless of how crappy it is. I want him to get in on his own steam, because he is increasingly confident and bold. And a bright little button. I don’t mind if they interview him or test him. I know that another year of building his confidence and letting him learn at his own pace will give him the edge he needs to get into a good school, should a vacancy come up.

I know we have a shaky year ahead of us, wondering what will become of him, but as SRK said in some cheesy movie that I can’t recall   – if it’s not happy.. its not the end. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is not the end.

Edited to add: Because this post wasn’t long enough to begin with *roll of eyes* I have to clarify something. I think the new Delhi government system of admission is brilliant. it works for a certain class that had nothing going for them. They weren’t the backward class getting resservation and they weren’t the educated class who made it through interviews and group discusison. Until now it was kids like ours who got into schools while my drycleaner and tailor’s children didn’t make it. Because their parents were not bankers and journalists and their kids didn’t go for personality development and abacus and kumon classes. I realise it is unfair that the children should pay for the sins of the father, so to speak. Why should they not have a chance to better themselves when it is what I want for my kids too?

The problem we face, is simply one of a shortage of supply. That is it. That and the fact that people are still faking papers and pulling strings to show that they belong to a certain locality (naturally around the best schools in town). This is India. No matter what the government does (take the Maoist issue too, if you want) – there will always be loopholes, grants and subsidies, reservation and help that doesn’t trickle down to those who really need it. We can’t blame the government for the system – just for the inability to implement it properly. We need to blame our own lack of scruples and corruption for it. Our willingness to aid, abet, bribe and jump the queue. As for my kids, they’ll get in somewhere eventually and they and I will be able to sing with Sinatra – that we did it our way. I am sure Kapil Sibal is going to do a fantastic job. My kids are probably just an unlucky couple slipping through the gaps. I cannot let another shoulder the blame for that.

158 thoughts on “The big school saga

  1. A lengthy,traumatic,senti,genuine post,no words from me.
    But is it really so tough getting a school admission in Delhi?
    Here life is simple,and admissions arent tough as you described,i just wonder how easy education was for us,no mess,not expensive,no interview,no tests nothing.

  2. i am shocked to read the scenario you just described. i live in mumbai, and we have had no trouble getting into the neighbourhood school at all. infact, they have to give admissions to the children within a certain radius by law. is there such a law in delhi?

    please do give your little boy a hug from me. little boys are much softer than little girls, though we are not taught to believe that. they needs their mummies much, much more than the little girls do. they need much more time, much more patience and much more affection. i pray he gets it.

    • we do have that rule, Maya, but sadly – there are so many kids that they have to use other criterion too – like whether the parents are alumni, whether there are siblings etc. We just need more good schools. Not fancy AC schools, just plain simple schools with a good student teacher ratio and less pressure. thats all we ask for. And you’re so right. little boys are far more sensitive 😦

      • I also feel that for all the toughness men show, they remain little boys at heart, much more vulnerable than the more practical and pragmatic women little girls grow into. They find it more difficult to let go of their idealism.

  3. Gosh, your post really drips anguish. Given all this pain, I’m so glad my wife and I decided not to have kids.

    I don’t know what I would do in your case. I can feel my chest constricting and a feeling of despair and hopelessness coming over me. My child. One that I brought into the world, and I may not be able to do for him or her what needs to be done… I would feel like such a failure. I don’t know what I would do.

    But it really burns me up that a kid has to go to a psychologist for being a “dreamer”! How dare they. What they want a kid to emerge from some factory mold? Are these people even real? Do they want what’s best for the child, or what’s best for them?

    These are the sort of people who will insist on a kid being a doctor, an engineer or an accountant. Not an artist, not a journalist, not a writer, not a chef, or anything out of the ordinary. These are the kind of people who would have asked Einstein as a kid to take some bloody “test” to determine why he’s a dreamer!

    I can’t help feeling these are the people who should be banned from going anywhere near kids. Certainly never allowed to be in a position of authority over them.

    • yes you know… i was pretty mad myself.
      how is my son to grow into his own person if they find yet another form of peer pressure to subject him to? i’m so so so so tired. i feel as though i havent slept or breathed in days. and my face full of stress-induced pimples tells its own tale.
      my one refrain to couples who dont have kids, is that they’ve made the smartest decision ever

      • I wish there was someway we could all help. The post is such an anguish filled one, and if you are actually telling people that not having kids is a good idea, I can’t begin to imagine how bad this phase must be for the family. Hugs, MM. And prayers. For the OA, you and the Babies.

    • Labels, you ask? Sample this. Was in crosswords with my one year old, reading out The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A female walks in with a kid who looked barely two, starts pulling out books after consulting a list in her hands. And then she has the balls to tell me in a stage whisper “You shouldn’t read your kids stories at this age. Stick to educational books like Numbers and Shapes and Colours. Or they’ll turn in to one of those Creative types”. This was delivered with a toss of her hair and a roll of her eyes.

      And in case you were wondering, the lady was standing in front of me in the check out line and had purchased “educational books” for her poor kid for over 10 grand.

      Cheers to the next generation. 😐

      • LMAO. ohmygod. what will she say if she meets me? she’ll have a fit!!!!!!!!!!
        but i get that so often. oh! you’re the arty big bindi, harem pants, tree hugging type?
        and i smile, because i am.

  4. this was a really scary post MM. the demand-supply ratio is so skewed that there aren’t many options for the hapless parents. things aren’t good in calcutta either, but somehow i feel as if the situation in delhi is by far the worst among the metros.

    here’s a big hug to the brat for fighting it out, and being the brave, intelligent boy that he is.

    and on a brighter note, shubho noboborsho to the entire mad family. may you have a phataphati year ahead. 🙂

    p.s. how about a solo bean post now? i miss that girl’s antics.:P

    • sigh. i know i’ve been gloomy around here. she’s up to all sorts of course. just hard to record them considering the other tamasha in our lives. shubho noboborsho to you and yours too babe!

  5. hmmm chalo you have come up with a solution to one problem at least…we were trying to decide whether it should be cow’s milk or formula/ powdered milk for arhaan, i guess im going to wean him off to put him on pepsi…will get some dvds and turn up the volume on Housefull. that should improve his social skills eh.
    as i told you hamari choti choti khusyian hain, middle class dreams, acha school, pension fund…kiya karey?

    • exactly. sidhe pepsi pe le jao. i can tell you Ela, my jaw dropped when I was told that one of his problems is that he doesnt recognise the variety of aerated drinks available.

      • I guess you should shift home to some other planet,let the lil boy be in peace.
        Actually those lines on brat being taken to Psychiatrist is heavily traumatic,i can feel the pressure.
        And this post scares me since my daughter is not used to chocolate,aerated drinks,chips or any junk for that matter,and no TV for her,she lives with books.I guess i shld start practising all these soon,there is still 2 more years for her to go thru all these.

        • Hey, I’m with you there! I feel as if you have exactly described my daughter. That has scared me. The other day she came to me with, “Mama I feel left out when my friends sing songs from a movie called 3 idiots, and they laugh at me when I told them I don’t know these songs.” And she is just 8!

          • Don’t worry, sandhya, our 8 year old is on the same left-out page…but I’m glad we didn’t allow her to watch suicides and vacuum deliveries…she’s supposed to have a childhood.

            • speaking of which, how about if they did something about the damn ratings on films so that unsuspecting people like Kiran dont end up taking kids to it? she was so mad and poor Krish was traumatised. i felt like smacking the idiots who thought it was okay for a kid to watch it. thank you censor board.

            • It was thanks to Kiran’s post that I didn’t take my kids and warned others from taking theirs. Our censor board only focuses on IMPORTANT matters. Gah!

            • Thanks, ladies, for that vote of confidence. I sometimes feel as if I am the only one on the planet (at least hereabouts) who is like this.

  6. Sheesh. This school situation is so very sucky. Mumbai is undoubtedly better. I’d be terrified if we had to move to Delhi.

    Hug the brat from me, will you?

  7. First of all, hugs to you MM. I can’t believe so much happened that you didn’t let us in on thru the blog. Or maybe you did, and I was in my own funk and never noticed. Do remember a post about you pulling the Brat out of the school though 🙂

    Secondly, I am cheering for your two little ones here and the fact that they made it on their own and not anything else. You don’t need to worry, they will carry themselves through this now and later.

    Thirdly, this made me cry.

  8. MM,
    First of all, my heartfelt admiration to you and the OA for not giving in to the system. You guys stuck to your beliefs and, at the end of the day, that is all it takes for raising great kids! 🙂
    Schooling is the most agonizing and the most important decision that parents need to make for their child, isn’t it? Your school, to a very large extent, has a big role to play in shaping your character, values and beliefs, which is why I think you and the OA did the right thing by not giving in and taking the easy way out when it came to The Brat’s schooling.
    Secondly, lil Brat sounds like a bright kid with great imagination. How many times in our professional lives have we heard people ask us to think out of the box?! I think it is marvellous that The Brat has a natural gift to think out of the box, to make up stories and to boldly share his view of the world. Those are real gifts that will help him as he grows up and becomes, even more, his own person. So, don’t worry. I am sure there are schools who will appreciate his individuality and be happy to have him join them 🙂
    And, finally, a big, big HUG to lil Beanie for her unofficial first rank! 🙂

    • you know.. i am always touched when a comment addresses every single issue in a post. its so so thoughtful of you. i know you only hugged the bean, but here’s a hug for you.

  9. Dear MM,
    “Hugs” Every mother who lets her son/daughterscribble outside the lines and lets them color snakes any color they want and paint rockets and plant rajma seeds deserves a whole lot of love, appreciation and praise. Schools are being increasingly catered to the 90% who insist their kids draw inside the circle and that playing with mud can get buggies in them. The brat and bean are adorable, intelligent kids who will have the world eating out of their beautiful hands. Don’t worry, things will get resolved and more importantly don’t lose heart and go about changing your philosophy…the world will lose a good parent.

  10. What a post!! You know I have a feeling, Brat will grow up to be one of those people who are intensely themselves. He may not be very worldly, but he will be an intelligent, bright person who perhaps wouldn’t like to get stuck in a matrix like system. I am sure he will grow to be a loving person, and will also be much loved. Hugs to both your little ones.

  11. sounds awful, but looks like it worked out in the end! we also got rejected for schools, its a bad feeling, innit? its worse than JEE, this damn I std admission – i mean, the monster does fine, its us who are failing … Brat sounds lovely, i long to meet him and discuss discontinuous topics with him. 😦

    • you wont have a choice darling. there is no other way he can discuss things.
      the only thing I assure you is that he’ll begin his topic with “Excuse me maashi, did you know…”
      We recently attended a party where the guests died laughing at both my kids open their mouth each time with “Excuse me maashi/mesho/uncle/aunty…”

  12. MM,

    Your son is exactly the kind of creative child who would absolutely flourish in an alternative school. Why do you want to put him into a mainstream? Aren’t there any alternative schools near your neighbourhood; I don’t know much about Delhi but Mirambika is supposed to be really good. Please do check it out.


    • I would love to Shilpa. I’ve tried Mirambike for two years. In fact I did yoga at the aurobindo ashram for a long time after I had the Bean. But they take only 18 kids a year – all of whom are alumni kids or whose parents are national awardees in the arts. 😦 there arent too many other options. they didnt get through Mother’s either.

  13. Sheesh! being a Delhite and have been through this trauma with 4 of my nieces and nephews and their parents. My Bhabhi was expecting her second baby, when they were running around for the first one’s admissions and because of the stress and tensions, she faced a lot of complications.

    The path Brat’s principal has shown seems all very good, one more year and then you can have brighter chances. Hugs to you, dont worrry! Am sure for wonderful people like you, everything will fall in the right place.

    But I strongly feel more than the school, it’s your home, your parents, your family and its beliefs, your friends which are more important. The school is just a component in the whole ecosystem. Dont we see people from all sorts of schools, making well for themselves in their professional and personal lives? Do we stop and ask our colleagues which school did you go to? Or is this the way the world is heading to?
    Am scared, very scared! I so wanna come back to my Dilli and settle there sooner than later, but what would I do when I have kids :(.

    • i agree 100% Ilina. I tell the OA so all the time. I come from a small school from a small town so I’m not one to try for only the best school in town. on the other hand, i cant willingly put my son into a school that is killing the spirit he has and not giving him an education isnt an option 😦

  14. That was one genuine post.

    Getting admission into Junior KG seems tougher than getting admission into architecture school!

    I was , in my childhood , a little bit like brat , dreamy to the point that my parents and teachers were worried and needed assurances from the lady like one you describe.

    After years of different schools and now in the final year of college , i wish i could unlearn a few lessons and have my spontanious , fresh mind back.

    Its weird , you’re asked to confirm all your life , and just when you learn to confirm and fit into everyone’s definitions, you realise , all you needed was your old self.

    Creative and intelligent..who knows Brat may be the next le-corbusier.

    Hugs to him.

  15. this really struck a chord. kids these days have to get into the ratrace so young.

    both my kids had got into mother’s (we as parents had to write the entrance exams :)) and now we moved out of india and i’m going to find it very tough to fit them in a school when we get back 😦

    i hope it’s going to be easier for you and the brat the next time round, i sincerely do.

  16. in your place I would have:

    hijacked the brat’s appointment with the psychologist, I would have signed up for counselling myself…

    i would need
    1. post traumatic stress counselling
    2. marital counselling
    3. depression counselling


    you should paint a t-shirt that reads: “school admissions — i survived them in delhi”

      • If things are this bad before even the starting line, so to speak, then what happens when they have to switch schools midway for whatever reason, or try for college, professional or other competitive courses, I just don’t understand why it has to be like this. I mean the costs are so high even here in Bangalore, we can’t even save for higher education, forget about our retirement. Add the difficulty in admissions and all the other yummies that are dished out once the kid does finally make it in, and I really wonder how we’re going to make it as far as the kid emerging with a qualification certificate of any employable sort. Sigh.

  17. Just love and hugs.. I don’t have any more words to say..

    After going through all this.. u guys had such a lovely atmosphere at ur house to let the kids be themselves and grow in peace.. U need all the love and hugs MM..

    • 🙂 well that is something i wont take credit for Sakthi. the atmosphere is something that i love having so its no favour to them. it makes me happy to see them happy and free…

  18. Lovely post mm. No kid (or parent) should face such a harrowing experience for basic education. And that too with such bright kids.

    Just thinking outside the box, have you considered homeschooling? Is it even an option in India? In US I have read about quite a few parents going for it, especially if they live far from cities and good schools.
    The pioneer woman’s website made me realize that not only the crazy ones go for it 🙂

    • funny you should mention it. was just chatting with some friends about it.
      this is what i felt about it.
      i cant do it alone. as it is i am a fun, involved and loving, but impatient mother.
      the lack of adult company would drive me nuts. and with the OA travelling a lot i am anyway almost a single parent. i cannot handle the pressure of being their one stop shop for every need. being mother takes a lot out of me. being teacher too… not sure if i can
      i also think that kids need to meet more kids their age and thrive in that atmosphere. learn to mingle .. find friends in class, learn to conquer nervousness with a new teacher, stand up in class and answer a question confidently, struggle for a place on the school clubs, compete for leadership roles/ a role in the play etc. most of all i love how school exposes them to other families and lifestyles (in theory)
      and finally – i am not confident of handling all the subjects. maths and science are my weak spots and i wouldnt want my ignorance and dislike of a subject to be passed on to them. i’d give it more thought if i knew a group of people doing it seriously where i could be sure that another parent would handle subjects i am not good at.
      as you can see.. i gave it a lot of very serious thought before realising that as a concept i think its awesome. but for us personally, its not the best option.

  19. Babe.. Just wondering aloud.. Delhi and Bombay have these set cultures and mall loving theme birthday partying children. I think the Brat will fit beautifully in a great school in a slightly smaller city.. like Madras… I know you dont like the place.. But just giving you the idea of considering smaller cities where this ‘pressure’ is not so high. Pune maybe?

    Brat seems similar to my niece and nephews and there was a place for them in their school. In fact one of my nephews, chose to not go to college and is taking time off to apply abroad to learn classical piano. He was Mr. His school ( they have this kinda thing for culturals).. the school was so supportive of his decisions and he still is in touch with his teachers..

    This about it.. smaller city.. less trend setting.. less rat racing.

    • i’d love to try another city but for the OA’s type of job bombay is the best place and Delhi is only second best. pune is too small, chennai doesnt have enough scope although he could find something else there. but i’ve just never felt at home in chennai 😦

      • Yes yes come to pune..pune is culturally rich..easy life here..and bombay is close so OA can travel easily..yes yes come to pune

  20. Hugs hon. You know how much your posts resonate with me.

    Am shocked by all the figures you’re writing about. And this whole stuff about the Delhi points system and string-pulling. Makes me realise how much better it is around here in Blr…expensive and still flawed, but you can still get admission, and then crib and complain while your kid wades his way somehow through 13 years of schooling.

    Whatever school problems our son had last year seem to be much improved…I’m glad because the thought of trying for admissions again is traumatic in itself. But I can understand your feelings…boys are much misunderstood and maligned and they are sensitive in a different way from girls. Learnt that the very hard way 😦

    Along with all the hugs to your whole family (your parents included), a huge pat on the back to the Principal, am glad she gave you the breathing space and the luxury of time to try again. All the best and kudos to you for getting thru this sane and still happy!

  21. Firstly, I am so sorry that you had to go through such a tough time for the kids’ school admissions. I can’t imagine the despair that you guys must have gone through. I really admire the fact that you guys decided to stick to your way of doing things despite all the stress and pressure you must have faced. I think that takes immense courage and faith.
    And I am so distressed that the Brat had to go for psychological evaluation for being a ‘dreamer’. I can’t bend my head around to the idea that being a ‘dreamer’ means you have some sort of a psychological problem! Where would the writers, artists, poets, scientists of the world today be, if they were not dreamers in their childhood? It must have been an unpleasant experience for the Brat, and for you guys too – and kudos to him for being his own creative self and even wowing the doctor (though I am not surprised).
    You know, I really admire the way you bring up your kids. How you have inculcated in them incredibly sweet manners, innocence about the ways of the world, their love for the outdoors and for nature. But clearly you have been doing it all wrong – from now on, feed them on unhealthy aerated drinks and junk food, ensure mall outings every weekends, and unlimited violent cartoon time – that seems to be the only way they can ‘fit in’. Gah, it makes me so mad!
    Congrats and many hugs to both the kids for doing so well in their current school. They both seem to be very bright, intelligent, creative and expressive. I think it was a smart, albeit difficult, decision to let the kids stay on in their current school, but it seems like the right choice to make so that their progress continues undisturbed. And I’m glad they don’t have to travel so far yet – it always breaks my heart to see little children travelling insane distances and ending up exhausted by the end of the day.
    I hope the coming year will be a lot easier for the OA and you, as well as for the kids!

    • yes, it was a terribly tough decision because they may not get in anywhere else next year. but i really want to give the brat’s mental and emotional equilibrium another year. i want the foundation to be strong so that nothing else can ever shake his confidence. everyone thought we were nuts but in our head and heart we knew there was no option. this was the only way for him.

  22. Crushing.
    It reminds me of the ganne-ke-juice ka crusher.
    That is what life in Delhi reminds me of.
    I definitely don’t have your emotional capacity or tenacity.
    Wishing you easier days ahead.

  23. The brat seems such a sweetheart! And what you’ve done, am sure, will definitely be for the best.I do hope it begins to get more relaxed and stress-free for you and the OA after what you’ve been through. Take care and all my prayers and good wishes for all that is to come.

  24. Goodness. There is so much i want to say to you. You all have really been through the wringer on this. It is a terrible situation to be in. i know the feeling you’re talking of – of feeling like you have failed your kids. something similar happened in J’s admission process to – but (un)fortunately it got resolved.

    BIG BIG BIG hugs to all of you for sticking to what you believe in and seeing it through. I was so impressed with you both for walking off from the school which wouldn’t let you accompany a little kid to a strange class. I have spent every moment since i read that – thinking of what i’d have done in a similar situation – and i feel i’d have yelled, abused and threatened the kid into going in. purely out of my insecurities and fears for his future. and that is what makes your principled stand SO ADMIRABLE!!! knowing the hell you have been through already with admissions.

    from everything you write about the brat and bean, it is obvious that you guys are doing a more than terrific job in what you teach them and how you are bringing them up – so, why have you not considered home schooling? i know there are a zillion reasons not to – but the overiding reason to do so would surely be that you can (obviously) do a waaaay better job than the schools, do it at a pace suited to the kids, teach them so much ‘more’ than the schools ever would….and…i could go on. i know, with both of you working it will not be easy – but friends of a friend are in a similar situation workwise and are homeschooling and from what i hear doing an awesome job with their kid.

    give it a thought.

    much love and best wishes on this working out for the best for both the lovely little ones.


    PS: Sorry this is so long.

    • please dont apologise for caring enough to write a comment! as for my stand – what kept me quiet is being in public .you have no idea what i went through in those 45 minutes watching out last chance at a simple middle class school slip away. having asked a favour to get that chance. only to watch him squander it without even realising how much it meant. i would have screamed and yelled if we werent in public. although even i know the futility of that. what good would it be to yell because he’d just be crying instead of writing the test 😦

  25. OMG! jst too much trauma fr a KG admission!! its so straight frwrd and easy in the US and tht’s exactly how its gotta be!! really pity u & the othrs who hv to go thru this!

  26. Send him to a psychologist for being a dreamer? The mind BOGGLES.

    Can’t believe they’re upset he can’t differentiate between fizzy drinks…

    It’s a pity most alternative schools are concentrated in South India…am sure something like Shibumi in Bangalore is workable in Delhi.

  27. MM

    Read this with interest, as usual. I had heard that getting into good schools is tough these days, but sending the Brat to the psychologist ! Good that she reinforced desire to do the right thing because these days the world is woefully short of “square” parents like you and the OA!
    Lots of hugs to the kids and anytime the Brat wants to see some Hawks and Kirans or get some aircraft stickers , you know who to ask.

  28. It honestly breaks my heart to know the brat had to go through all this. The shrink office description… that had my stomach in knots. No mother (or father, for that matter) should experience that. I wish I could do something concrete to help you MM, but the best I can do is send some virtual hugs your way, and pray for strength for you and your family.

    The education scenario in Delhi is just not right. With such high fees and total bullshit of an admission criteria, it saddens me that education is being commercialised and is being made a nightmare for parents.

    I don’t have children, but I do understand your feelings when you say you are failing your kids. Trust me, MM… you are not! You are giving them so much more in terms of education that even the best kickass school in the world couldn’t give them. Hang in there… your kids will surely turn out to be all that you envision for them, and much, much more!

  29. Reading your posts MM, i feel you go through a rough ride during many phases of your life, and you come out of it victorious like the phoenix bird 🙂 Hats off to you.

    Kill kids imagination, creativity for all their school and college life and suddenly when you enter the work force at 21, they realize those are the very things that are needed and ask them to use their imagination, think out of the box etc.

    • 🙂 its a nice thought, but the truth is this is my version. the way i see things. and yes, in my own head, if i dont give in to the system its a victory. but the system probably sees me as a failure.

  30. I read your post with a lump in my throat…you know the scenario that you’ve been through is soo close to what I’ve been worrying about… and I’m just halfway through my pregnancy! Me and the hubby have had many discussions already…the school situation just scares me so much… it’s become so terrible – a money spinning business…all we want is a simple school with moderate fees and kids with similar middle class values as us, good down-to-earth teachers who care for the kids, like how it used to be in our times. What is the need for hundred different kinds of pressures on the kids to do well in so many things – didn’t we all grow up just fine? I’m losing hope when I listen to the horror stories of school admissions from my friends and colleagues… the scene will only get worse as the years roll by 😦
    BIG hugs to the brat and you guys and the bean for handling this so well.. I’m sure brat will turn out into one of those exceptional kids who have their hearts in the right place. Kudos to you and the OA for sticking to your guns and bringing up your kids the right way! I just hope me and the hubby have the same courage!

  31. This is so freaky!!!! All this s**t just to get a baby into a school? What the hell is wrong with the world? Or should I think there s something wrong with me. Makes me wonder if I should ever have a baby amidst these chaos. Our jobs wont let us move to small towns where education is so much more easier, and big cities, well, you’ve said so much about them. Phew! This is going to be a huge problem some years down the lane for us. Thanks for giving a heads up.
    And was the principal blind or deaf or simply dumb to have thought of Brat the way he did? That too when his teachers gave him excellent comments?! That simply doesnt make sense. The baby totally didnt have to witness what goes on at the phsych’s.
    I’m sure both of them shine bright wherever they are/go. But it wont be possible for a mother not to worry. So worry, about keeping up with his spirit, about satiating his thirst of knowledge, about keeping him happy. Not about some crappy high profile school.
    I know you know this, but you’re a tad too worrysome to hear your own.

    • it doesnt make sense na? i’m glad you agree. apparently the princi was working on old data. by which time the brat had already improved in leaps and bounds. i’m just glad its over. and i hear you 🙂 thank you for the last few lines.

  32. Wow, this post just blew me away. The whole experience you have noted is wrong on so many counts, but the psychological evaluation for Brat just shook me. No kid or parent to should be subjected to that just because a does not fit the principal’s stereotype. It is scary to think how much power these mis-informed individuals wield over our lives and that of our children. What credentials did she have to recommend an assessment?? Hugs and wishes to Brat and ask him to keep dreaming as it is dreamers who are tomorrow’s inventors and visionaries. God bless your family.

    • thats the thing. she’s the principal. i am so glad its over. and i know she did it with the best of intentions and is also the first to admit that he is fine now. i just wish i could erase that memory from his little baby life…

  33. Hi MM,

    My heart goes out to the Brat. Luv to him. At least he has awesome parents who beleive in him. If he was in the US, he would have been considered the most talented kid. These kids issues break my heart more than anything else after I became a mom. I just can’t stand little kids being treated this way. It is really really really hard bringing up kids these days. I think our generation had everything easy. I always worry about our kids. Somebody tell me why it is this way.

  34. sigh! now i am scared! really scared! you know i mentioned in one of last posts that i am not putting Cub in big school because i dont want him to be the youngest. he will continue in the same place for next year! will our refusal to give in to admissions paranoia just make it bad for him?!

    i so feel for you guys and am sure with all the thought and good intentions behind this decision, things will work out absolutely fine for you guys! they have to! where the heck is justice and fairness then?

    i have a colleague who is now looking to change his sons school. the fees per year for a 6yo are 1.5lacs!! WTF!!! sp if one cant afford it getting admission to a simpler school is even more difficult.

    so if one has two kids, one must have ATLEAST 5lacs per year foe school!! gah!! i mean thats more than half our income!

    the angst and worry is endless. and its so annoying that it has to be for something as basic as education.

    hugs to all of you! glad to hear that brat and bean are doing perfectly well! 🙂

  35. I guess someone else has mentioned this in the previous comments – the option of enrolling him at an alternative school?

    Brat sounds very intellectually curious for his age, and he might be happier attending a school that lets him think, explore and learn rather than study at a school with a pressure-cooker environment. There are a couple of such schools in Chennai/ Bangalore (patashala, shibumi, abacus, kara etc.)…maybe you can look up their websites and can keep them in your options, if it is feasible for OA and you to relocate to these cities in the near future…

  36. Heart-breaking post ! I can’t believe but wonder what a racket this whole thing is – education for children in a system that puts the children themselves last! I shudder to think what the situation would be five years from now. Hugs to you all for getting through it.

  37. Hi MM,

    I am posting a comment after a long time. Your post is just a repeat of my experience when i was trying to get admission for my son. Right from friend’s reactions to the absolute feeling of failure. I opted to do my CA so never went through the “recommendation” process for admissions. My son’s school admission was my first experience. I realized i was living in a bubble till that point of time. I work for the Biggest Bank in the world and my hubby is a VP in one of the leading organizations in India. Both of us are professionals and we were living within the 3 km radius (so called prescribed limit). We didn’t get admission because neither of us believed in asking for “recommendation” and honestly till that point of time i thought we didn’t need recommendation. What a fool i was :(. Luckily for us there was a new school near our house and we got admission there easily. My son skipped a year and his teachers tell me he is a year ahead of his classmates in math. So we failed not him. But his current school has really grown and is now one of the most sought after schools in the city and he is happy there. Touch Wood. All schools seem to have this “labeling” problem. I might be wrong (i probably am) but after movies like Taare Zameen par and My name is Khan there seem to be a proportionate increase in the number of cases being referred to counselors. Take Care and i am sure you will thank your lucky stars later on in life about the path your kids life took….

  38. When I read the first few paragraphs i relived what my sister went through with her son.
    He’s a bright little Pisces boy & a dreamer to boot.His fascination is cars & he has a whole collection.He can spend hours with them, dismatling , putting together, racing them on a track.Fortunately admissions are not such an issue as here in Mumbai they have to give them to children of the neighbourhood first & the tests are just a few questions to be answered orally.
    But school with it’s emphasis on homework & repitition was just too boring.He stopped taking notes or would fill the book with doodles of cars .She went through the same anguish you mention.
    And being a doctor herself the doubts were not less but more.She tried cajoling , scolding , tutions, everything.It only got worse.Some of the teachers made nasty remarks.They talked of attention deficiency & some or other disorder.She didn’t give up.
    Took time off from her practice & sat with him daily.
    He knew his work but repitition bored him & couldn’t understand the need to parrot answers taught in school.She had to literally fight with the authorities to let him write in his own words.Today he’s in class 4 , an intelligent, happy child & he still dreams.
    From what I’ve read of the brat these past few years he’s a bright & intelligent child & he’ll make you both very very proud one day.Just go by your instincts.You know your child best.((Hugs))to the brat & to you too.

  39. Oh God MM, you have scared me. My son has not been introduced to cold drinks and cartoons either. In fact TV watching is restricted to 1 hr of T&J on Saturdays only. And yes, not much of the mall either. I never realised that it will make him not “fit in”!
    I think the OA did the right thing by walking off. Seriously, how can they not understand the anxiety of a 4 year old? In fact I am surprised they were not letting the parents in with the kids. The school was definately not worth it.
    We recently went through the same school hunt story for our 3 year old. I have been following your posts, so I was clear that we did not want to go to one of those “old schools”. H and I decided to put him in a school that will care and nuture him right now. We’ll worry about the acads and competitions later. So we got him admitted to a super expensive monterssory based school near by. Family has been chiding us on our decision, but we are happy.
    Don’t worry too much MM. Everything will eventually fall in place. So many of such crisis situations have turned out be blessings in disguise for me. I am a firm believer in ‘Jo bhi hota hai achche ke liye hota hai’. Take care!

  40. yes, i read through your entire post…. but remain fixated on the brat still having to get a certificate from a counsellor certifying nothing is wrong with him.

    there IS a problem here, and its with the schools and their rigorous demand for homogenised kids at age 4 – kids who ‘get’ the glitter of malls, know their ABC character from the XYZ character on tv, and can cheerfully recite brand names of fast food chains, chips and other chitter-chatter.

    i hope your school worries are over soon.

  41. gosh I cant even begin to pen down my thoughts after reading this post.. from anger to sadness to smiles… i really dont know how i am feeling right now

    brat is a smart kid… a who sees a shrink for being a dreamer? for planting rajmas and not playing with those stupid bay blades, for drinking nimbu pani instead of that idiot coke

    if these are the points which get school admission ojas will never get one too 😦

    and the school situation in delhi look damn scary i thought its bad in blore but after reading this it feels that its much better here

    PS: just curious why didnt u try the montessori method instead of the kindergarden… wouldnt it kind of suit ur ideas a little better?

      • sigh this is so sad…

        hugs MM

        dont worry too much I know its easier said than done but both brat and the bean are adorable smart kids and will turn out brilliant i am sure

        and yeah give beanie a hug from me for her unofficial first in the class missed it last time

  42. Man… I cant believe it is so much trouble getting into a good school and that too its hardly school, its playschool or kindergarten ! can’t imagine what happens when the real school (1-12) begins. This post made me shudder, coz even I think pretty much in the same lines as u & the OA. I began to imagine all that cud happen when I will need to secure a good enuf school for my kids. N thats stil so far down the line. I hope it gets better. Or as me n the fella like to fantasize – we will home school, we’l move abroad, we’l do this or that. I just hope it gets better with time and not worse.

    • i know. i think about it often. but i already gave my reasons for not homeschooling – in a comment above – and moving abroad.. is a last resort. i love living in india

  43. This is utterly crazy. I don’t believe that hew as asked to go for an evaluation. 4 yo ARE supposed to be disjointed isn’t it? Now you’re scaring me if it’s not, because D is just like that! Sometimes she says things that make no sense and I just ignore it 😦

    Congrats to the Bean.

    So the saga is postponed to another year now? We didn’t make it to any of the schools we’d applied either – we made it only to two schools – one in our campus, very new, infact it’s not even fully constructed. Another the convent I studied in (yes alumni does make a difference).

    We went with the convent even though I have trepidations because of the student to teacher ratio and the policy of “discipline” that these schools follow.

    Am felling really really bad that our bright little guy didn’t make it to where you wanted him to 😦 I think he’ll get in for 1st grade, I hope

    As for him not being able to related to peers – sounds like BS to me. Are you telling me that almost 5 yo discuss malls and cartoons – what happened to simple physical play?

    • apparently its just the 400 of us who discuss this across blogs who believe in it. most others believe every minute of the day must be gainfully occupied learning a variety of things. 😦

  44. Exactly why I’m sticking to this school. Dont want to go through the admission hell again…never mind if the brat is flung into resource room every second day.

  45. Oh my god MM…that was enough to put me off having kids! Good lord!

    My SIL in delhi went thru the same thing – despite having a sibling in the same school – the little one didn”t get thru and she just couldn’t think of handling both kids in different schools (with her working and the BIL traveling) and had to run from pillar to post and make a million calls before he got thru!! (dont know if strings were pulled, but it was a harrowing time for them)

    U know i totally admire how u are bringing up your kids…and What upsets me the most is that it seems parents aint allowed to bring up kids differently – its almost scary that children have to know Ben10 and Shin Shan etc to fit in! i would be scared to get my kids to read Enid Blyton’s coz they might mention God Forbid ” a wishing chair or an enchanted wood” instead of whatever Ben10 does/says!!

    and the next time anyoen says dreaming is an issue, get the brat to sing to them – “U may think i am a dreamer but i am not the only one”

    Anyway i think eventually you are better off..hugs to u MM! (apologize for the lengthy comment)

    • Hey, I know what you mean. My 8yr old had to do a biography as an assignment for school. She wanted to do one of ‘Winnie the Pooh’, which would have been interesting as she has read all the A.A. Milne books. But she was afraid that she would be laughed at for ‘being a baby’, as her peers felt Pooh was only for babies! Thanks to the Disney version, the gentle humour of the books notwithstanding. She finally did one of Roald Dahl. having read all his books too. And guess who was the most biographed celebrity by her class? Michael Jackson. *bangs hand on head*

  46. Dear MM,

    Its so nice to see how you never give up and come out victorious each time. You inspire me through every single post of yours.
    Am going thru some crisis at home and kept pestering my husband that we should move cities and that my son is still young (2.9 years going to play school) and that he will get adjusted to new environments.
    After reading this post, i’ve realised how wrong i was and that I should be the one adjusting to this place and stay her as my son loves his school. The present school has boosted his confindence. He’s blooming and I was going to nip this bud.. how cruel was i?
    Thanks MM

    • 🙂 Mimi’s mom. i only come victorious because this is my view point since its my blog. i am sure people around me think i’m a loser. it doesnt matter. at the end of the day i do what i feel is right and so naturally it feels like a victory, no matter what the cost.

      as for your son – you are right. most kids are pretty resilient. i could move the brat and the bean and they’d settle in too. i dont know what your home crisis is.. but if you feel it will give the kids a better home atmosphere, perhaps there is more merit to your idea than you think?

      all the best with whatever you decide.

      • 🙂
        You know what? I think you have a point there….
        I need to sit on this idea of moving and weigh the pros and cons. It’ll probably do some good for hubby, baby and me!

  47. must add that its easy to make the schools the villians, one forgets fellow parents.

    have shifted my child to an alternative school, she begins in june. this school is very particular that young kids dont watch tv or have access to computers. in a meeting with the parents, it was the parents who protested and said that TV watching is like a treat to their kids, and whats the problem if its only one or two programmes meant for kids. i was itching to ask the parents if they had any clue about the violent messaging on the ads on these child friendly programmes! and why would tv watching be a treat for a child who has real people to talk to and play with???

    but then this is the warped world we are creating around us – so yes, you are expected to not allow your 4 year old to be nervous about a new building, new people, to be ‘bold’ and ‘brash’ and be the ‘first’ to learn anything and everything by rote. growing rajmas? how does that compare with the four year old who can mouth dialogues from spider man???

    • you know – you’ll be amused at the number of times i’ve had people ask me – but what is wrong with computer access? schools actually promote themselves saying that they give the kids computers at age two. prepare them for the future they say. you and me are anachronisms.

      • Excuse me, but playing dress up barbie online is TOTALLY going to get the kids to be super whiz computer programmers. Ignore the sarcasm.

        I am going through this battle daily. Kids get invited to play dates where the other kids get free access to the computer and TV. Of course my TV starved kids jump at the opportunity coz at our home they get the kiddie tent, board games and paints/colors to entertain their friends. 😦

        • nooooooooooooo. you dont say so. online barbie? because the plastic ones with big boobs werent enough? okay let me give you something more to cry about. please watch this movie called pyaar impossible. its like drilling a hole in your head – yes, that bad. but the worst part of it – is the daughter in the movie. please watch. please. i must share the misery. misery loves company

      • MM, the fact that we dont have any cable TV at home riles so many parents! but what will he talk about with his friends?

        Cub knows his soft drinks and his only fascination with malls on rare occassion is the feeling of importance of going to the loo with his dad! :p

        just coupla days ago we had friends who came and the mother told us very proudly that her 3.5 yo is obsessed with malls!

        such is life! things are changing so much that one seems to be weird to be normal!!

        cub doesnt know how to unlock our phones or play games on it. and i am in no rush to teach him. if that makes him look dumb or out of sync thats abs ok!

        and i dont even want to get started on gentle kids because Cub is one. and he is verry quiet outside home. people say he is so quiet like its a bad thing! sigh!


        • online barbie dressing- maybe thats the summer camp i need to send my child to. she will either grow up to be a hot shot computer wiz who is sleep and life deprived or then she could be a model/designer with serious eating disorders. but she will earn pots of money. cool.thats the life i want for my girl. barbie dressing summer camp here we come…

          • Sur, deep calming breaths. come, we’ll hold hands and count to ten 😀
            what does it say, by the way, if my daughter throws aside all dolls and hungers for elephants? i’m sure its the other end of anorexia at the very least!

  48. School admission Woes…i can understand how it feels like to be in the situation. Well what can i say i will be in the same situation that you are in a few years from now. 😦 I put my son in a school which takes boys upto 4th and from 5th they go into another all boys school..the one he is in now is more like a feeder school and there was an understanding between the managements. Couple of years ago god knows what happened they just stopped taking kids at grade 5. Now where do these kids go!!! the current school does not want to extend it to boys..and which school with take him inbetween like that…!!! Bangalore is no better with schools..

    My heart goes out to Brat..Such a brilliant kid and being referred to a psychologist!!! The problem with these schools is that they stero type kids..expect all of them to nod their heads in unison to what is being told..where is the creative thinking?? Where are they encouraged to use their heads…Keep courage lady you have a genius in the making 🙂

  49. and in delhi do you get a phonecall a day asking to send your child to summer schools?
    i got one every day, last week.
    from an ex-teacher ” your child is so bright, she will enjoy the creativity we teach” me: “its ok, she need not learn creativity” she: ” we are focussing on personality development” me: “its ok, i am not keen on developing her personality in any particular way” she: “we teach robotics” me: ” i dont want her to learn anything in the holidays” she: “she can express herself through art, we will teach colouring, shading” me: “ummm, i am keen that she colours any which she pleases” she:” we will teach sport- hockey, basketball” me, i perked up here, ” you will? to 4 and 5 year olds? that sounds like fun.” she:” oh not for the under 6 year olds, we will teach them chess” me: ” i really am not interested.” she: “i know you work, this summer camp is for the whole day. from 9 to 5. we will feed your child, take care of her for the whole day……”

    i should have told her, a friend has taught her child to grow a rajma seed in the pot, i want to try and do that this summer with my child. she might have no time left for the summer school.

    • oh you bet we do. and the newspaper is full of flyers too. i dont know what to say to these people. i’d try sarcasm but they’d not get it. and i havent the patience to hear them out.

  50. Dear MM,

    I can quite understand what you must be going through. I really feel bad that the school thought that Brat had a problem. These are the people who deal with kids all the time. Wasn’t it clear that the reason his peers could not relate to him was a lifestyle issue – didn’t they themselves say he cannot differentiate between different aerated drinks. I just hate it when the schools expect all kids to come from similar backgrounds. When they cannot handle differences in lifestyles, how will they handle the situation when kids actually come from different social backgrounds?

    I have myself agonized so much over my daughter’s school admission. She is a very gentle child and can be bullied very easily. And I just knew that she would be traumatized in a typical school where they put a lot of emphasis on discipline and where students have to really struggle to get the teachers’ attention. Thankfully Pune being a small city we were able to find a suitable school for her, of course the problems don’t end there, but at least the school is flexible and accommodating when it comes to kids.

    I’m sure the things will work out in your favour.

  51. MM, i have always maintained that the Brat is a brilliant child with fantastic social skills too. There is NOTHING wrong with him.

    Honestly, i had no idea u were going thru all this… one doesnt know politicians or anyone.. but i cld have helped with babysitting.. and some other stuff..

  52. I don’t even know where to begin. Education is an issue that has always been close to my heart. And it’s worse now that I have kids of my own. The more I read of this post, the more I found myself despairing at the way things are. I am not surprised at anything that you’ve mentioned here. I’ve maintain for very long now that the best way to kill creativity in kids, the desire to learn and know more, is to send them to schools.
    It’s admissions time here too and one of my colleagues was going crazy. And as is my wont, I started thinking why education should be this difficult. Isn’t it a basic right of every child to get an education? You make such valid points — you with a journalist tag could do nothing. Can you do a story? No. You with your principles, with your desire to want them to be normal happy kids, not having the chance. I am not going to even talk about the psychologist evaluation because that just disturbs me on many levels. And for a child seeing what he did there, I don’t know wht to think. I am even feeling bad for those people who were there, the way you described them.
    Everyone says kids are better for all the experience they get, but I honestly believe some of us could do without some things we’ve experienced. And I am sorry your son had to go through that. It hurts me to just think about being in his place. And as for the Bean, 🙂 I have a feeling she’ll be the Brat’s little soldier 🙂 Big hug, Mad Momma. I hope this has only built character and not taken away any bit of you, as it would have with me! I am so glad for this post — allowed you to share and express; and allowed me to feel adn think. Sorry this was so long!

  53. Don’t you worry MM,those kids of yours are absolutely on track,albeit a more nature oriented,family and friends oriented kind of track.There’s nothing wrong in letting a 4 year old stay in the same school for another year or even a couple of years till the Bean is old enough to move with him…I know I’m not in the midst of the “rat-race” that is schooling in India but it so upsets me that a 4 year old has to be traumatised just to get into a “decent” school…he strikes me as a sensitive,well-behaved super intelligent kind of kid who needs to be handled in the right way..give yourself (and OA)a pat on the back..for sticking to your guns.
    My experiece:my kids didn’t see a proper school in their lives(we were working in a remote,rural hospital till they were 6 and 5 and the formal school only started when they were 7-they’re doing pretty well for themselves(I’m trying to be modest here;) sorry for the extended comment.
    Ummas to the Incredibles!

  54. wow..just read your post..its insane…
    i am so glad i am not in delhi! do you think its the same everywhere or is this something only prevalent in big cities?
    glad to hear that they continue in the same school but honestly, the principal needs to straigten up -she is flaky, contradictory and she really needs to be sure before she passes judgment on a kid.

  55. Dear MM,
    A big hug to you & your family.Your post made me all emotional. I dread to imagine that the day is not far for me.
    My daughter will be 4 next month. She does not know different kinds of sodas, chips & cartoons. She gets 2 hrs of TV per week, that too shows like wordworld, Caillou, Barney. I don’t know if these names exist in India or if they are the hot ones. The shows are very educative & teach them good manners,social skills etc. She knows her alphabets but is still learning to write the upper case letters. She loves books. She is not allowed to touch computers.She goes to a play school for half a day & loves it.

    We are in a situation where we have to come back to India in short notice if our parents’ health demands it. Whenever I come back, I am sure my daughter is going to be a misfit. I have nightmares about school admissions. My hubby is blissfully unaware of all this & says we will cross the bridge when it comes.

    I appreciate the way you & the OA stuck to your guns in not forcing the brat to go in. I don’t know what I would have done in your position.

    I never knew that raising your kids in a healthy manner had such penalities! What is the world that we live in?

    Pray that this school year is great for the Brat & the Bean! Hugs to them!

  56. Am speechless. It’s extremely disturbing that this many hoops need to be jumped to cater to a need as basic as good education. Hugs to the little buddy. Am sure he will do awesome and the right opportunities will comes their way when the time is right. With parents as lovely as you and the OA how can they not.

  57. phew! just finished reading this 🙂 but shall i make this a little lighter for you? you must hear the Elvis Version and Frankie’s and Celine duet of the same ‘My Way’ song…

    *runs before MM can reach her shoes* 🙂

    HUgs dear!it is nerve wracking at the end of the day!

  58. ok! i just realised that it was ‘All the way’ by Celine and Frankie 🙂 argh! i am too sleep deprived….lemme go and hit the sack…

  59. I can totally relate to you. I have a 18 month old who will be going to day care pretty soon and I am explaining to everybody why I want a simple day care where they let her explore and play instead of make her learn stuff. Most of my friends’ kids went to day cares which boasted of having the kid learn colors, abcs, numbers by the time they are two. I would be happy if my child knows the colors because of playing with legos or because of each fruit is a different color. She knows numbers because we sing one two buckle my shoe or because we count the cars on the roads or the birds in the park or the stars in the sky but not because she is only repeating it after the teacher hundred times a day. I am having to explain to everybody why I am paying more for learning less. Nobody is able to understand that I want her to enjoy her childhood.
    The system is totally screwed up. I think it started with competitive parents who expect their kids to be the best without considering the pressure they are putting on the kids.
    In this aspect schools in US have better options. Maybe you should move here and can be close to the person you love the most.

    • 😀 you remembered? i think if there’s one thing that will make me move to the US it would be the brother. and if there were two, it would be the education system.

  60. Hugs to you MM, I didn’t know school admissions are so tough and so EXPENSIVE. Me and my brother both went to the same school for 12 yrs, starting from LKG to 10th standard, even in high school the monthly fees was Rs.70/-. I don’t think my parents could have educated me if it was 2 lakhs P.A. Crazy, Crazy.

    Don’t worry everything will fall in place. Takecare

  61. Psychological evaluation? Now I’m furious. What utter nonsense.

    Shudder to think of little kids feeling left out because they aren’t au fait with every single cartoon – currently if D sees a picture of Spongebob he says “Dekho ! Paneer !” (I kid you not).

  62. my first time here your earlier post on brat recovery and this one …

    I am quite numb after reading about Brat’s ecperince..
    how some so called good school can cause such a havoc on our precious children..

    Its so good to hear that both brat and bean are finally doing great ..and it takes lots of courage to do the things that you are doing and not letting go of your principles..

    Lots of love to little brat and hope he never faces any such issues ever again !!

  63. I got so annoyed reading this post I could have punched the makers of such a horrid system! Maybe we should leave our jobs and start a school which provides the education our kids need, not whats being shoved down their throat! SO what if only your kids and mine (currently non existant!) are enrolled in it.
    Hugs. You take care.

  64. I hear you, MM. Hugs.

    Makes me so mad and so afraid for the kids… My own and all the others who are so innocent and sweet and vulnerable.

    Apart from saying I’m so very sorry you guys have to go through this shit, I have no other words.

    Hugs and kisses to the Brat and the Bean.

  65. I read and reread this post a number of times. And each time, it felt sadder..
    I`m very impressed with how you and the OA stood your ground. Call it urgency, call it desperation, call it frenzy or call it helplessness – most would simply give in..
    That said, I fervently hope that the system improves enough to actually make space for stargazers like the lil Brat. In a world where integrity takes a backseat and pandering to social evils is a rule rather than an exception – Lord knows, we could do with more children like the Brat! :):)
    Big hugs.

  66. Didnt quite get the last line right. This is what I meant. In a world where integrity takes a backseat and pandering to social evils is the norm rather than an exception, we could do with parents like you. In a dog eat dog world, where we believe in raising our children as educated robots, Lord knows, we could do with a few stargazers like the Brat :):)

  67. The school admission system sucks! Though I did not have much trouble with A’s admission. It was a montessori school, and they were wonderful. But I have experienced it for myself and my younger brothers. I also have heard horror stories from them about the admissions of my nephews and niece. Hugs to you for what you went through. Oh I love Brat and Bean for what they are and hats off to their parents!

  68. The ironic thing is that most schools take pride in killing creativity at the earliest possible age (The Eurokids’ mango campaign, anyone?)and then once they get to being near 20, they are taught ‘creativity’ and asked to ‘think out of the box’. Those were the buzzwords during MBA days!

  69. The ironic thing is that most schools take pride in killing creativity at the earliest possible age (The Eurokids’ mango campaign, anyone?)and then once the kids get into college, they are taught ‘creativity’ and asked to ‘think out of the box’. Those were the buzzwords during MBA days!

  70. MM,

    I am a mirambika parent, not any national awardee, probably a national phariah, ‘just ordinary parent/s ekking out our livelihoods. I know the principal well enough, she is infact my son’s class teacher this year, ‘though i’e had serious run ins with the school ( & a very unpopular parent vis-a-vis some of the powers to be), but my son is happy for the last 5 years. Do u want me to speak to the principal ? I know admissions et al are over. I will be back in Delhi last week of april & btw am an farmer !! Write to me, if u are keen, i know the principal will put in lot of hurdles in front of us, but if we are convinced that “alternate education” is “mainstream education” we can work out something. I’ve seen children been admitted between the year. Lem’me know, we can try, am not assuring anything & i know for sure every place is not ideal, but our son is happy. can check out some of his interests which he has developed in mirambika like painting & ornithology etc @dreams&imaginations@blogspot…… let me know, if u want to pursue

  71. MM,

    I read every post of yous but i am very lazy to comment.I never thought getting education is this tough and costly. My son is almost same age as your brat.I put him in a small school near my home and told the teacher please don’t beat or pressurize my son for just teach him if he is interested he will learn. and I also told her that even if he doesn’t learn anything i will never complain. even at home i don’t tell him to read or write anything not even his home work.He himself completes his home work.Even during exams i don’t tell him anyting not even which exam he is going to write.You know at the end of exams his teacher shows report card saying he scored full marks in every exam.
    I think it is not school to be blamed but parents.
    Hope next time you will get admissions in the school which you like.

  72. this sounds EXACTLY like what i went thru with jia… same stuff same analysis even today his aptitude test results are nothing short of brilliant..and yet..

    we need to talk…huggssss


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