Monthly Archives: May 2009

Preparing For School

My idea of preparing the kids for school is talking to them about it (almost incessantly, now) and telling them how much fun they’re going to have and how many new friends they’re going to make (or find). And, of course, getting them clothes, shoes, and so on.

Apparently there’s other stuff I should be doing with them that I haven’t been doing. This was brought home to me recently, in conversation with another mother who has a three-year-old daughter, who will also soon be starting school. “I realized that I have to start getting her ready for school,” this woman said, “so I went and bought the ABC book and I’m trying to get her to learn that.”

I didn’t say anything to her, but I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness! Lady, you and I can never be friends.”

I mean… Getting your almost three-year-old to mug up on numbers and ABC before school!?

The kids already know their ABCs and 123s, and they even know part of their A-for-apples. But. They get it all wrong! They routinely leave out QRSTUV from the alphabet, they jumble up their numbers, and often go, “…5, 6, 7, 8, ten o’clock…” And as for A-for-apple, they usually go “B-for-ball” and then use B-for for everything all the way from pussycat (which should be C-for cat, not C-for-pussycat) to zebra.

And so what? They’re kids, they should get things a little jumbled up. It’s what makes them so adorable. After all, how many people do you know who will solemnly say, “Baba is sleeping, don’t disburt him, ok!”

They have the rest of their lives to get it right, must we start pressurizing them from now?

And besides, if we have to teach them everything at home, what are schools for?

Oh, I forgot. The twins are going to be attending a Montessori school: schools are for playing with toys. I wonder what this other mom would think of that idea.

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School Days Are Here Again

May is drawing to a close and June is around the corner. That means, schools re-open here in Bangalore. And that means, a quantum increase in traffic volumes at 8 a.m.

Since I’m not working now and don’t have to join the millions making their daily commute to the workplace, the increase in traffic volumes is largely theoretical for me right now. But for how long?

I’ve just got the letters informing us that the eagerly anticipated day when the twins join their new school is set for 10 June. At first, they will spend only an hour or so at school, and parents have to stay with them. Probably in the second week, they will start following regular hours, 8.30 to 12.30. Then I’ll be spending much of my day in the driver’s seat – literally, unfortunately, not figuratively – with a 15 km round trip twice a day. Not only will the school time traffic suddenly be highly relevant to me, I’ll be part of it.

While the kids starting school means I’ll have a few hours of peace in the morning, which is not a given when Shaba-Aunty is home with the twins, it will also be good for the kids to get out. Last year, when going through the admission process, I kept feeling they were too small for school – but that was then. Now, I no longer think so. They can talk quite a bit now, and have become more socially-oriented: they look forward to meeting their park friends every evening – kids and adults alike – and cry out loud to meet other friends whom they see less frequently. And, keeping them occupied and engaged at home in the morning is full-time work. What’s more, it’s getting more and more difficult to tire them out sufficiently so they’ll fall asleep after lunch. Today they stayed up babbling and playing games for two whole hours, before finally falling asleep! School should take care of that, or so I hope. (How do parents (specially SAHMs) manage in those countries where school starts at age 6???)

So while I’m happy they’re going to be starting school soon (and honestly, the sooner, the better!), what I’m still not sure about is packing them off to school in the school bus. They still seem too small for that experience. Won’t it be scary, being in a bus full of big kids, no known faces around, being trundled around town for 30 or 40 minutes before making it to the only slightly familiar and less scary environment of school? True, there are two of them, and true, too, that other kids their age do it and survive, but still…

I don’t really want to be doing the dropping and picking up chauffeur service, though. It will certainly be fun talking to them on the way to and from school, but it is going to break up the morning in a quite disruptive fashion. Sending them off by bus means I get a whole five hours or so to do my stuff. Getting Amit to drop them on his “way” to work (it’s not really on his way) means investing in another set of car seats. Sigh. Problems, problems.

More interesting – and a bit worrying – is that certain memories that they form now can potentially last forever. Don’t you remember your very early days at school or preschool? I have vague memories of nursery, and even hazier ones of pre-nursery. I remember a friend from pre-nursery – or rather, I remember the name of a friend, and the concept of a friend as someone you did everything together with, more than the person herself. I remember howling my head off in nursery because a boy took my sketch pens and didn’t give them back. I remember another boy (or perhaps the same one) turning his eyelids inside out (boys are gross!) and scaring the hell out of me. I remember, strangely enough, the room that was the nursery or kindergarten room, and my seat in the room. I remember other things about the school, like the building and the grounds, and even the teachers; but those memories formed over the years, as I continued in that school till I was ten. But the earliest of my school day memories must date from a little over three years of age.

And now the twins are going to start collecting their own set of forever memories. I always loved school, my sister pretty much hated it. I wonder why that happens. It is so much easier to enjoy school than to dislike it, I hope I can help my girls to grow to love it and to build a set of happy memories.

Twinnings

There were clothes to be washed today, which meant I’d have to pick up day before yesterday’s wash from the line. Everything had dried, of course, probably the same day it was washed, but I’m lazy about picking up the laundry. Actually, that’s not entirely true – I’m lazy about just about everything that doesn’t directly involve food (see previous post).

Ahem.

So anyway, I went out to pick up the laundry and the kids, of course, went out with me. So I put them to work picking up the clothes, which they did with enthusiasm, wrenching off the clothes pins and flinging the clean clothes in the general direction of the dining table so that several items landed on the not-so-clean floor of the dining room.

As I folded the larger items, the girls folded their frocks. Then I took one load and went into our bedroom to put it away. Mrini came with me, Tara didn’t. After a couple of moments, I went to see. The kids’ clothes had disappeared from the dining table. Tara was in their bedroom. She had pulled open the lowest drawer of the cupboard (not the new wardrobe, mind you, which is still missing its drawers), which would normally have held shoes. The shoes have been taken out in the recent past and replaced with a thick blanket, folded up. She stood on the soft pile of blanket and reached for the handle that opened the main compartment of the cupboard. Then she got off the blanket, picked up the clothes that she had folded and placed on the bed, and threw them into the roughly appropriate part of the cupboard. Then she got down, closed the cupboard and pushed the drawer back in.

Then she dusted off her hands and came to me and said,”I do other clothes.”

She went running to fetch the laundry bag, opened the washing machine and loaded it, meticulously separating Amit’s shirts and handing them to me so I could put Cuffs ‘n Collars on them. After everything had gone in, she went to the bathroom and stood on the stool to reach the cabinet where the detergent is kept, and tried to get it down. It was still too high for her, so I helped her. She would have poured out the detergent, had I let her, but in that matter I prevailed on her to let her elders and betters do their bit. Then she slammed the washing machine door shut and turned on the power.

So: laundry assistant socked in. Shaba-Aunty has one chore less, lucky her.

I also have two coffee-makers-in-waiting. They’ve watched me make coffee and toast enough times to know how to do it themselves. I only have to wait till they figure out the gas stove. Oh, and how to transfer coffee powder from jar to cup without scattering it all over the floor. Shaba-Aunty has a second round of sweeping to do, poor thing.

One activity that has lately been keeping them occupied for half an hour at a time, is the task of giving their panda and teddy bear lunch. This highly absorbing and elaborate ritual combines real and make-believe elements in a manner akin to some exotic religious ritual. The spoons are real (though plastic), and so is one plate and both bibs. There’s a red plastic box that a long, long time ago contained a goodly amount of some delicious ice cream, but now, sadly, contains only imaginary dal-chawal – or sabzi as the occasion demands. The lid of the box serves as a second plate. There’s a Play-Doh container that is put to use as a carton of imaginary curd (yogurt).

The panda and teddy bear are seated ceremoniously side-by-side in the high chairs, and industriously strapped in. (I’m not sure whether they are the high priests or the sacrificial victims.) The bibs are too small for their fat necks, so I am roped in to force the necks into the bibs. Two dining table chairs are pulled up side-by-side and facing the high chairs. Then the meal begins, with the girls making frequent forays into the kitchen for toast, or mango. I also noticed that several bites of the panda or teddy bear’s imaginary lunch find their way into the kids’ mouths. Now where did they get that idea from, I wonder.

After the meal, the panda and teddy bear are taken down, made to wash their hands and face (with imaginary water) and tenderly put to bed. Must be the priests, then. (Unless the process of putting their bibs on strangulated them, in which case they are the sacrificial victims.)

Whew! I wonder if Mrini-Tara find it as much as a relief as I do, once their darlings are peacefully in bed. Of course, they don’t have so much to do in terms of tidying up – imaginary food doesn’t make much of a mess. However, Tara does take the used bibs, fold them, pull the dining table chair across the floor to the cupboard (rendering me in complete agony due to the screeching sound), stand up on it, and fling the bibs on to the top of the cupboard, where they (more or less) should be.

No wonder they say that if you’re having another child, wait till the older one(s) is about three. It seems that they’ll happily do all the work when they reach that age. Wonder how long this will last, though.

Meanwhile, two new words have emerged:

“Mama, monkey toes biting,” says Mrini.
Really? Monkey? Where? Tara doesn’t seem to be biting anybody’s toes.
“Monkeytoes,” says Mrini, pointing to the air.
Oh, right. Mosquitos. Yes, they’re biting.

“Mama, fatter day?” says Mrini.
Fatter day? I hope not! But if it must be a fatter day, is there also a thinner day to look forward to?
“Mama, Sunday?”
No, it’s… oh, I get it. It’s Saturday! That’s a relief.