Parsley and Thyme

We don’t need no education

with 6 comments

It was perhaps the toughest one hour of my life since childbirth. The umbilical cord was severed again, though this time metaphorically. All because Chikoo started school last week at Podar Jumbo Kids as a playschooler. It was the first instance that I gave him away to people I did not know, and to say the least, heart-wrenching.

I thought I had Chikoo well-prepared to face the fact that I wouldn’t be around at school, but this one hour on “first day” proved that I needed the so-called preparation more than he did.

The run-up to school week was somewhat confusing, but uneventful. I was alternating between bouts of peak anxiety and constant self-doubt. The thoughts that clouded my brain were innumerable and sometimes downright neurotic. To capture the loudest – “I am doing right by sending Chikoo to school ?”, “Will he acquire his negative impressions of life when I am not around to protect him?”, “Will he ever forgive me for leaving him alone with strangers?”, “Should I try taking up a teacher’s post in the same school so that I can still hover around him?”, “Should I pin a tiny hidden camera to his shirt to help me monitor the day’s proceedings?”, and so many more…

All through, I pulled a brave face and would sneak in conversations with Chikoo about school as soon as I felt that I had his undivided attention. That, on an average, lasts for around 5 secs at a stretch when Chikoo is at his behavioural best. I would say “Chetu, Amma is not allowed inside school. She will stand right outside and wait for you until you finish playing. Then Amma will bring you back home. Will you be a nice boy and not call out to Amma till then? Will you make lots of Β friends?”.

Being the acutely observant boy that he is, Chikoo had formed his impressions about “leaving home” even before he actually did. We had to take him to school just once and he instantly knew that this was a place where moms (or dads) were forbidden from entering. On admission day, though he screamed gleefully while exploring the play area outside, he was firm about the need to have his father stand next to him all the while. And the idea remained.

Let me say, therefore he would either choose not to answer my previous question, or give his straightforward opinion – “School beda, Amma. Naanu manele irthini” (“I don’t want school, mom. I want to stay at home”). “What a precocious statement coming from a kid who just crossed two months off his third year of life! I was so innocent (read dumb) when I was his age!” I would exclaim to Suyog. And we would both laugh off the reply. Atleast then, we could.

The first day of school presented itself in a flurry of little clothes being ironed, snacks being packed off into a little tiffin box, water carefully measured and poured into a new sipper to avoid unncessary weight on the tiny red school bag with the lovable grey-and-pink elephant on it. Chikoo woke up a full half-an-hour early and was perhaps somewhat surprised when his usually lazy morning in front of the TV was totally eclipsed with all his activities (loo, bath, breakfast) being fast-forwarded and compressed into a mere 30 minutes. He wasn’t complaining however, and seemed excited himself. “Amma, ta-ta hogona?” (“Mom, let’s go on an outing?”), he would repeat every few minutes and I felt suffocatingly guilty as I would smile weakly and evade the question. Maybe he noticed it too, and tightened up once he saw the ID card with his photo being pinned on to his shirt. And then his fears became verbal. It started with a feeble protest to remove the ID card from the shirt, and then turned a little higher once we left home with the school bag in tow. “Jumbo Kids beda, Amma”, he said as the auto turned the corner into the lane that led to school. “Amazing sense of direction, and he is still so young!”, we said and tried to distract ourselves.

Then the moment arrived. The more-than-affable lady-in-charge smiled at us and said, “Hello Chaitanya. Good morning! Come in baby”, while she took Chikoo away from his father’s grasp. Chikoo seemed a trifle confused that we allowed him to be taken. Even as he followed her inside, he turned back and searched my face for an explanation. And waited for a few seconds expecting me to follow him. “She is removing her shoes like I did mine”, perhaps he thought. At one point, he looked eagerly as I called out to the teacher and handed out his favorite stuffed Dalmatian “Snoopy” to her. But seeing that I stood where I was, waving to him, the first realization of abandonment dawned on little Chikoo. I still didn’t see him cry, only saw him walking dazedly into a room that he was being led into with Snoopy firmly clutched between his tiny hands.

I struggled to swallow the thousand lumps that lined my throat, all the way down to my heart which, now only had the last glimpse of Chikoo preciously tucked away for the next one hour. The separation was as deep as when a loved one goes away for a week, month, or even several years. My logical brain, and my husband (a single entity during such emotional periods) reminded me that it was just an hour before we would being Chikoo back home.

We went to sit under the shade of a Peepal tree, a few blocks away, to spend that one agonizing hour which would be the first of many more in our lives as parents.


Written by Kanchana

June 15, 2009 at 11:59 am

Posted in Chikoo

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Your best post to date! Extremely heartfelt and honest. Hope he enjoyed day#1 at school.


    June 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    • Thanks Sid!

      Nope, he did not enjoy first day at all. When we went back to pick him up, he was crying uncontrollably, and seemed shocked that I wasn’t there with him. It is one week since he has started school now, and he continues to tell us everyday, the first thing once he gets up in the morning, “Jumbo Kids beda, Amma” πŸ™‚

      But he has lately started adding to that statement “Jumbo Kids naale hogona” (Meaning “We will go to Jumbo Kids tomorrow”). Seems to me like some improvement. But I maybe wrong too, because he has no real idea of what “tomorrow” means πŸ™‚


      June 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

  2. Awesome writeup. i enjoyed reading the whole lot. btw.. i was taken aback to the mid 80s, and visualised myself.. :). Funny it was though.


    December 12, 2009 at 2:52 am

    • Hey thanks peevee πŸ™‚ Who isn’t terrified of school, eh πŸ˜‰


      December 14, 2009 at 4:59 am

  3. This is so beautiful. I felt like I was there all the time at your home and school looking over your shoulders as little Chaitanya made his way to school. I am a new mother and still experiencing the joys of motherhood. Thanks for bringing this facet of a child’s life that I shall surely experience myself in the future. Simply beautiful.


    February 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    • Thanks so much Soumya πŸ™‚


      February 15, 2011 at 4:46 am

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