Ishaan starts Playschool!

All set for school!

He went. He saw. He cried.

I watched. I wondered. I cried too…a little. Unseen, silent tears.

That would be the short version! And yet it was one of the longest hours I’ve ever spent, as I’m sure has he!

The night before, I was pretty with it, trying to soothe my nerves doing the little things – laying out his uniform, getting the toddler bag ready, setting out his blue crocs, all the while mumbling muted prayers to the Almighty, to get us through the day without a major mishap. This whole shebang is spanking new to us both and once again I doff my hat off to mothers everywhere! You Rock!

This morning was smooth (Perhaps that should have served as warning? I’m a naive mother, with much to learn…sigh), Ishaan was up at 7 am, breakfasted on fruit and a sandwich, played cricket while hubby and I did the same. We dressed and so did he and I took the regulation picture – the one in uniform, like every kid has in their album, duly titled ‘First Day of School’. He had no idea what school was but he was happy to be driving somewhere in the morning.

How does one prepare an almost 2 and 1/2 year-old for school & separation? Especially one who has just begun stringing together three words into a sentence? How do I explain that it’s a place where he’ll meet other children and adults called teachers, who will play with him and teach him things and hopefully love him well? How do I tell him, that from now on, he’s beginning a new journey, one that will take him away from home for a while every day but will hopefully be as rewarding as it is exciting? How do I let him know that when he’s howling his lungs out inside, my heart is breaking & I’m crying too, just on the inside, so he can’t see, trying to stay strong for him on the outside? How do I assure him that after a week (Hope springs eternal in this naive mother’s heart!), he’ll forget these tears and be like all the other kids, happily playing, learning, settled? How do I convince him that all of this is for his betterment? How? How? How? I don’t know how and so I just hug him tight and kiss him and silently praying, let him go…

And he does go too, holding a teacher’s hand he disappears into the large schoolroom. I wait outside as she’s instructed ready to rush to the rescue when needed, fingers and toes firmly crossed. He’s whimpered a bit when hubby left, but now seems to be holding it together although a bit confused. He’s never been around so many children before. He wants the teacher to carry him all the time but she gently dissuades him and he seems ok, just sticks to her like glue. I exhale and think we might just make it through…Hah! The phone rings and a cousin wants details of an employment agency in Bombay. Her maid just gave notice! I’m on the phone for 5 minutes, when I hear the unmistakable sound of his crying. He’s caught a glimpse of me through the window and that’s when everything starts going downhill…

After that, although I go inside and hold him, wipe his tears and his runny nose, sit down with him and try to get him interested in an activity, there’s no stopping the boy. There are a pair of turtle statues in the garden outside and he wants to go near them, he wants to be anywhere except where he is, he wants to be held constantly, but I’m firm. Where do mother’s find the resolve to stay firm with their children? I have no clue but I’m sure glad they do! I hold his hand and walk him around the room, still crying but trying so hard to be brave, and point out the colorful artwork on the wall (I am embarrassed, and angry that I am. I confess!). He tries his best to identify some of the pictures, a tiger, a fish, a clown. A few of the children stare at us but they remain remarkably undisturbed, not particularly interested in or affected by his continuous crying! I am impressed! If this is what school does, I’m all for it! They are wise these kids, in the quiet, assured manner that children are wise (they are!). They’re probably reliving their own initial misery and I imagine most of them looking at me with an expression of knowing pity! He quiets down every time a teacher appears to soothe him and call him darling and sweetie, but he clings to me like a koala!

It’s almost 10 am and the teacher says, I can leave now. Apparently, he’s had enough exposure to the new environment for Day 1! I agree! Him and me – both! He perks up, realizing with that intuition peculiar to children that the tide is now in his favor and Dad is on the way to rescue him! Suddenly bright, he waves Ta-ta to the teachers and jumps straight from my arms into hubby’s! While we’re leaving, a senior teacher advises me to avoid talking too much to him about school, staying firm but gentle and reassures me that he is by no means the worst child to have crossed their threshold! She makes me feel better 🙂

In the car, he’s absolutely normal although a little circumspect. He knows he’s behaved badly and Mom is a little cross. He knows me too well for his own good! All the way back home, he points out cows, goats, and dogs. The phone rings again and I ignore it. When we get home, Mom and Granny are waiting at the door, having heard the car approach. Mom especially has been miserable and out of sorts since we left, sick with worry! I tell all as Ishaan leaps from hubby’s arms into Mom’s bear hug (and he’s just barely been away the one hour!). Back in familiar territory, he is once again Prince of all he surveys, but he glances at me occasionally, he knows he’s not out of the woods, not quite. Then showered and juiced, I sit him down with two bowls and some almonds and ask him to transfer them from one to the other (an activity that met with much resistance, when his teacher tried to get him to do it in school), and he happily complies, his little face screwed up in concentration, for 40 minutes flat! I realize then that through all those tears, he’s still seen stuff and absorbed it! I smile and his face lights up 🙂 Children…mysterious souls 🙂

And so tomorrow…we do it all over again!

Wish me LUCK!!

p.s. Many thanks to the wonderful staff of The Ardee School for their wonderful encouragement, gentle manner and support. You truly made this nervy Mom’s day easier 🙂

6 thoughts on “Ishaan starts Playschool!

  1. hah! that sounds soooooooooooo familiar! of course, that’s exactly what I went through on my first day of school. and I was 2 1/2 years old too! Mom takes me to school, mom leaves me at classroom door, I am confused, strange women I am supposed to call ‘teachers’ take me into the classroom, I am surrounded by little kids just like myself, I see my mom in the window waving, I see other kids see their moms in the window waving, they react by crying, I decide to do the same.
    I am now nearly 27. The teachers have grown old. I am surrounded by a different set of kids now. Mom is still at the window, looking exactly the same, waving, anticipating my return. Dad has joined her too. But I don’t cry anymore. I smile and wave back, assuring her that class will be over in a couple of years. It has been nearly 25 years, so a couple more shouldn’t be too many to endure.
    Stay at the window and keep waving Paputai. School will be over and Ishaan will be out before you know it*. And then you will probably want to put him back in there all over again!

    *hopefully with your daughter-in-law in tow

    1. LOL…everyone remembers their first day of school except me! I can’t remember that far back 😛 but Mom says when she came to pick me up the first day, everyone was silent except me! I was howling and the teacher told her I’d been like that for a while! I can’t stay at the window ‘coz then he’ll just want me to come in and carry him. But I totally agree with you about wanting to put him back in once he’s all done 😉 The thing is, he’ll probably be happy to go back to school then, anything to avoid college 😛 I know I felt the same 🙂

  2. Oh Harsha!
    a big big bear hug from me to you and my cutie pie (Does he know I exist? lol)
    He reminds me of my younger sister Archana’s foray into school…but trust me when I say, Ishaan will not be a howler like her! Goodness gracious that girl exhausted her tiny set of lungs wailing after mom and gave her teachers quite a headache. She was no different during her first few years of primary school, and because I was a few levels above her in the same school..she played truant to come crying to me in my classtime. Oof that was beyond embarassing but I tried to be a good big sister.

    Ironically, I took to school like a duck to water.
    My nursery days were in a school with sweet Catholic nuns and I learnt the bible verses, and sat through classes with perfect ease. There was trouble though if mom was even five minutes late to pick me up, i’d start blubbering and sobbing for her. And she awaited my arrival back from nursery, primary & secondary school and college all those years. When I was flying off to study abroad she was a wreck at the airport! But she prides in telling everyone that she needs not worry about me as much as the younger one, I’ve always found my way somehow and made myself happy 🙂

    fingers crossed for the first few weeks, im sure he’ll take to it better soon enough!

    1. Thanks Aarti! I took to school as well (loved it and am enjoying all the memories that are flooding back since Ishaan’s journey started!), and I think Ishaan will too once he settles. Truly school can be a magical time, although in India, the fierce competition begins too young and can ruin it for many. Hopefully not for Ishaan coz both hubby and me are pretty chilled out 🙂 I must start introducing him to all his aunts – he’s going to have a tough time of it, or maybe not, coz there are so many lovely ladies that dote on him – from near and afar!

  3. Such a lovely post, Harsha. I feel for you, truly. These little boys, I tell you, they know how to wrap their mamas around their fingers. It sounds like you held strong, so good for you! And your adorable Ishaan now knows what to expect from school and his teachers–that’s half the battle. I hope he (and you) had a more relaxed day today. : ) Hang in there!

    1. Thanks Maura 🙂 Helps me feel less like ‘Monster Mom’! Sometimes I feel like I’ve started him off too early. Tell me, are Mom’s always second-guessing their decisions or is it just me? Sigh…

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