Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stepping Into a New World

We all have, at some point in our lives, had to give up or get out of our comfort zones and venture into something completely new to us. Do you remember how you felt then? That feeling of anxiety as to what all could go wrong? That feeling of stepping out unprotected and vulnerable to unknown dangers? In spite of being reassured by well wishers and trusted elders, the butterflies and trepidation didn't make an exit easily. It took us some time to get over that sinking feeling and gain a firm foothold and go back to our usual confident selves. Remember?

On Jun 15th, 2015, our tiny tot S2 did the same. After more than 2 years of being only around his closest family, where he was always treated like royalty and every nuance of his was understood and then catered to, he stepped out into the real world. It was his first day at Playschool. After a lot of research, S and I chose to enrol him at Euro Kids, not just because this particular center was just across the road for us.

In the days leading upto Jun 15th, we tried all we could to make him understand that in a few days, he would go to playschool where there would be many others of his age, a very nice teacher who would play with them, sing with them and generally help them have a great time. S2 gave varied responses to the efforts on our part ranging from a straight no to a bout of crying to happily agreeing and also at times looking right through us and pretending we hadn't asked him anything. Truth be told, S and I were both terrified. While we had already been through this phase with little S, it never really prepares you for doing it all over again. Our baby, who we hadn't let out of our sights as far as possible, was now going to go into a closed room with many other unknown kids, with unknown teachers and we wouldn't even be there for him. We couldn't even predict how he would react to the situation and from what we knew of him, this little guy wouldn't like it much.

It would be an incorrect statement if I said that our anxiety was only relegated to how S2 would react. We were equally worried for the other children who would be in there with him and the teachers too!

The reason for this will need a flashback: Circa September 2010. Little S's first day at her playschool. Given her soft, pliant, docile nature, we were very sure that she would have a tough time adjusting to playschool. As expected, our angelic baby cried up a storm when it time for her to let go of my dad's hand and enter the playschool premises. What wasn't expected was that at the end of the 1 hour, in her tantrum little S had scratched (read clawed) another little girl, a boy and one of the teachers as well. Ultimately this resulted in her getting scratched back and a free for all crying by all three kids. The surprising and somewhat worrying part was that our little S, who was a very sweet baby, always smiling and tantrum-free, had actually been the provoker of this incident. Leaving this at that for now, little S even today is a very sweet child, extremely well behaved, obedient for the most part and one of the teachers pets in all the classes she's been in.

On the other hand, S2 who is a full 4 years and 1 month younger than her is diametrically opposite in nature. He is loud, brash, naughty and is given to throwing tantrums when he wants something badly enough. He is also prone to actually hitting his "akka" as he calls little S without provocation when he wants something she has, which is most of the times. We have actually had to coach little S to not let him hit her at such times and defend herself against his sudden swipes or fists. Given this sweet characteristic of his, was it a wonder that we were worried for the other kids and teachers in his playschool?!

The one week before D-day, S2 had taken to saying he would "have fun in school, not cry and also ask his "friends" to not cry when they did". The night before we all slept early as little S, who was going to start 1st grade on the same day was going to have to reach school by 7.45 am and so it was an early start for all of us. As expected, little S was up on time and ready to go without any fuss. We dropped her to school and before we realized it, we were back home in time to get S2 ready. He woke up in his usual good mood, all smiling and ready to have his morning glass of Bournvita. His clothes had been selected and kept ready from the night before and it didn't take too much to get him ready.

He was once again told he was going to go to playschool today where he would have a whole lot of fun and he seemed excited about it. He even posed for a couple of pics with his bag slung on his shoulder with a big smile on his face. It was now time to do it. S and me left our home with him in tow and walked the short distance to Euro Kids. One of the most difficult moments for me was the day I walked into the room for my first ever group discussion as part of the MBA selection process. My heart was hammering in fright, my palms were clammy and my legs felt weak. This short walk to Euro Kids with my son in my arm was at least as bad as that moment if not more. Next to me, S was also in her own world of anxiety as our little boy made his entry into a new arena.

All this while, unsuspecting S2 prattled on in his usual way. In minutes, we were at the gate of the center and all we could see were tiny tots exhibiting their powerful lung capacities to the world at large when they were being separated from their parents. The teacher was waiting to take our son inside and I asked her if I could take a pic of him before that. I set him down at the doorway and took a quick pic. That was the very first moment when he realized that school meant that his mumma and dai were not going to come in with him and the expression on his face in that says it all. The teacher quickly picked him up and took him inside and as she opened the door, we could hear a cacophony of wails, howls and sobbing. Now the die was cast.

That one hour, which S and I spent waiting outside the playschool itself was veritably one of the longest ever. Halfway through the teacher came out to tell us that S2 was crying softly but he was not creating a fuss. Our hearts melted when we heard that and thought of how confused he must be with what was happening around him. Finally that hour got over and the teachers started leading out the children. As a rule, they were all crying, some even more than when they went in though they had all been given a large smiley to be held on a stick. And through the throng of parents, we saw him walk out; he was crying too, right till S picked him up and hugged him. The "ordeal" was over, at least for that day.

To celebrate his first day, we got him to choose a toy from the store and he picked out a bright yellow truck and armed with that, he came back home. Later we realized that with all the crying, he hadn't had the time to eat from the snack box that was in his bag. Another interesting point was that he had cried on that first day because he wanted to go play on the slide that was outside the center and he hadn't been allowed to do that. :)

It's now been about 15 days since then. The playschool timings are now for 2 hours and S2 is now settled with the idea of going there, doing his stuff (which includes singing rhymes, playing with blocks, scribbling with crayons and last but not the least cleaning out his snack box) and coming home saying "maza kiya". Love to see him get all dressed up and potter his way to playschool and back as if he's been doing that all along.

Yes, it is a heartwrenching experience to see your beloved little ones get out of the comfort zone you have made for them bit by bit with a lot of love and care and go face the real world. Yes, it is even tougher to see them cry while they do it. And it is the toughest of all when they sometimes get pushed back or get hurt in the bargain. But having said that, they will always end up gaining something from the experience. They will always become stronger, better equipped and ready to take on whatever life throws at them. After all, we've been there and done that too. The world is their oyster now!


Wordy Birdy said...

Hello, Dai!

So school has begun!

And I am so, so, so happy to FINALLY have 2.5 hrs of a cacophony-free house in the morning!

Hello to S too!


Sibesh Sen said...

Very Simply told, very honestly narrated and leaves you with a feeling of been there, seen it, a sense of déjà vu. Like the simplicity of your writings.