Monthly Archives: September 2008

Playschool Update

Well, the playschool that was closest was the worst imaginable. It was an ordinary apartment with rather better furniture than we have – and lots more of it. The room dedicated for the kids doubled up as a college-going daughter’s bedroom, full of unmade bed, open cupboard with clothes spilling out of it and not an inch of space to move. When we went, there was only one other child, looking quite lonely as she sat at the dining table with some food. This playschool had a total of two kids currently, which I had perceived as a benefit, but after seeing the place I had my doubts.

In fact, I was so disillusioned with this place that I thought about giving up on the playschool idea altogether, but then decided (partly thanks to Siri’s comment that kids really enjoy playschool) to check out a well-reputed playschool-cum-Montessori-cum-daycare place called Vivaa International.

At once, all my doubts were allayed. The place had its own building with a small lawn and driveway. Classes were open and cheerful, seating was on mats on the floor, and all the kids seemed to be immersed in whatever they were doing and looked quite happy. It was informal, but not unruly. Even the kids took to it and wandered off with an attendant while I looked around and spoke to the director, whom I quite liked. Everything was perfect, apart from two little things.

One was distance. The place is a few km away, enough to make it irritating to have to drive to twice every morning. All the same, I was willing to risk it, but for the other little thing: the cost. 25K per child for just five months till the end of the academic year? That made me blanch.

I still hadn’t made up my mind about this place, when I went to look at a third place (it’s been a busy week!) and at last I could breathe easy. This place, also in a flat, dedicated the entire apartment to the playschool. With 20-plus kids, it was crowded, but not too crowded. There was little furniture and it seemed quite neat and safe. I couldn’t see to many toys, though, but the kids looked happy enough, so they must have been busy. The best part is that this place is only a little further than the nearest one I had seen first – I can walk the kids there in 10 minutes or so – and cost-wise it is a fraction of Vivaa, and only slightly more expensive than its nearer rival.

Amit has said he wants to check out the place, and once he does, and provided he approves of it, the twins can start from the middle of next month, after the October break ends.

So it looks like a few weeks from now, the twins will be starting school… complete with school bag, water bottle, tiffin box and all!

Playschool? Already?

It’s been a difficult and tiring time, the past couple of weeks. Let’s see: first there was my parents’ visit, short and whirlwind; then the trip to Pondicherry, even shorter and just as whirlwind. Then Amit left on the first of many business trips planned for this winter, so I was left to be completely housebound for a week, with the kids hanging on to my apronstrings the whole time; this is never an easy thing. (Yes, I know generations of women have done this effortlessly and uncomplainingly, but all the same, it’s not an easy thing for me.) Then his father was suddenly found to have cancer! It’s in an “incipient” stage, and surgery has been scheduled for Saturday, so Amit left for Delhi today, and we don’t know when he’s going to be back (but we do know that it’ll be in time for his next trip abroad in the first week of October). So it’s back to house-arrest for me with immediate effect. No tennis, I’ve already cancelled various social engagements for the weekend that I was quite looking forward to, and I don’t know how – or if – I can make it for my weekly music session on Sunday.

On top of that, it’s admission application time at various schools (for sessions starting next June!), which means somebody has to be out and about, picking up and dropping off application forms at various places. Not to mention filling them up, writing covering letters explaining why we can’t provide birth certificates, getting (making, actually) passport-size photos of the twins and so on.

Since every outbound activity is contingent on Amit being home with the kids, and since he is therefore finding it tough to keep abreast of his office work, I decided it was high time we bit the bullet and tried some alternative baby-sitting arrangement. So I phoned the nearest Playschool/Daycare/Preschool/Creche that I’d heard of, and if all goes according to plan, the twins will be attending from next week or, at the latest, next month.

It’s a tough decision, not made any easier by the feeling that I’m being forced into it due to Amit’s constant travelling, rather than opting for it because of any conviction that it’ll be good for the kids. I have this nagging feeling that they’re still too young for any kind of school. But I’m also not happy about leaving them in the hands of some ayah – unsupervised – at home. Yet, I do need time to go out and run errands, buy groceries, and, if at all possible, get some exercise while I’m at it, and it’s difficult enough to manage all this even when Amit is in town to hold fort at intermittent intervals, much less when he isn’t.

There have been another couple of recent developments as well. One is that I have, very quietly and rather tentatively, started on the next module of my online archaeology course. Quietly and tentatively because, the last module I did was just after the kids had come home, and I didn’t fare very well in that, obviously. I don’t know whether I can do any better this time, but I feel that finishing what you’ve started is perhaps even more important, if a little less satisfying, than doing well.

So I’m hoping that some of the days when the kids are at Playschool I can use the quiet time for accomplishing something on that front.

The other thing that happened recently was that I got a job offer, an actual, firm offer, not just a vague and airy-fairy suggestion, for a part-time position away from home. In many ways it sounded tailor-made for me, especially as getting out of the house was one of the things that attracted me to going back to work. But I turned it down, because I just couldn’t face the prospect of dumping the kids in daycare for so many hours (about 6) each day. Perhaps, as another mother pointed out to me, the kids adjust quickly enough, it’s only the parents who fret. Still, having them eat and sleep and wake up in a strange place with strange people around them, not being there to hold them when they are all sulky and grumpy after waking up, not being the first to witness each new word and antic, the very first time it occurs…

It made me think really hard about what I wanted and how I proposed to get it. It looks like, with all my conflicting desires, I’ll probably have to settle for a work-from-home job for the next several years. But even for that, I’ll need some form of daycare and I’d really rather not to have an ayah hanging around all day. That would only irritate me and make me itch at all the things I hear her saying and doing that I wish she wouldn’t.

So the playschool/creche arrangement looks like a better option, if it works out and the kids take to it and settle in. Still, it feels like a big step, and I don’t feel that Amit is quite in favour of it and I’m not entirely sure myself… Is there ever a right time for this?

Nice. Dirty.

I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t like that at all.

Last week when my parents were visiting (for three days, to renew their bonds with the kids), we all went out to dinner. Seeing that I’ve actually lost some weight at last (a whole quarter kg, don’t laugh!) I put on an old black full-length skirt and a deep purple silky/shimmery blouse that used to be a favourite of mine before it started showing all the tyres.

As soon as I came out of my room, Mrini took one look at me, her face lit up and she uttered a loud, enthusiastic and completely spontaneous “Nice!”

That made me feel like a million dollars, quite apart from the astonishment that the two-year-old pipsqueak is even starting to notice such things.

She did it again today – unfortunately, not to me, but to the pillow, which was wearing a never-worn-before pillow cover. It didn’t have quite the same effect on me, but maybe that old pillow felt like a million dollars.

I haven’t bothered with teaching the kids the concept of dirty, much. If they want to put their hands in something dirty, I usually just stop them (if it’s really dirty, that is; common, garden variety of dirt never hurt anyone) but I don’t tell them something is dirty – I don’t want to put adult notions of dirty into their little heads right now.

But some concept of dirty seems to come in-built. There was a dead cockroach lying in the verandah yesterday (a horrible, big one, ewwww), and Mrini saw it. She crumpled her face up into her disgusted+scared look, pointed at it and complained to me: dirty.

Other than that, their verbal abilities don’t seem to be going anywhere beyond telling me to sit down, get up, and pick it up. Oh and their stock favourites, of course: “how-are-you-fine-thank-you; bless-you-thank-you-welcome; happy-birthday-to-you; give-me-please; ok-see-you-bye.”

I’m just waiting for the day when I’ll be able to have an actual conversation with them.

Till then I can make do with the “nice” very nicely, thank you.