Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of school admissions and such

Wow what a morning we had - me and my child - I tell ya! Totally filmy. Started with me learning last night that one of the popular schools in our area (NPS) is giving out admission forms for Montessori and LKG starting today. And as you've read in my previous post how I've learnt that you really have to know where you want to send your child even before h/she turns 2 so that you can start the entire process in time. Gosh - little did I know what's in store for me this morning.

So first of all, some background on my rationale here. I was always of the opinion that I am not too crazy about these bigger schools yet coz my daughter is really too little right now. And even in June of next year she'll only just be 2 yrs 9 months. So still a little early for me to start worrying about her admission to LKG. The only reason I would even think of applying to big schools like NPS would be coz they have a Montessori stream of education where they take kids who turn 3 in June (give or take a few months). This way the kid gets a Montessori education and automatically goes to the 1st grade from there. So not only does the kid get the full benefit of the Montessori system for 3 years but the double benefit is that the parents do not have to worry about admissions to a bigger school again after their Montessori education is up. That was going to be the only reason that would make me even turn my head towards big schools like NPS. But again, in my mind, the school had to be very close to where we live and it had to have a warm and fuzzy feel for my kid. So when I came across the NPS HSR website last night and saw they were giving out forms starting today, I called one of my other friends who is also in the same boat as me. We both decided to drop our little ones to their playschool the next morning and then co-ordinate collecting forms from the 2 schools - NPS HSR and NPS Koramangala. Sounds simple so far right? Little did I know how huge a deal it would be for everyone that there would be a queue for miles and miles for such things. I had decided that I'll not get worked up like other parents, and coolly walk into one school and stand in line. If I get the form till 11:30 great, if not, I will leave the line, pick up N from school at 12:15, come home and try the next day. That was my plan since the start.

But reality had something else in store for me. Here's what transpired this morning. After an early start in the morning and several co-ordinating phone calls later I learn that my friend's dad has already gone to NPS HSR to collect forms for her daughter T. So reshuffling of plans hapenned amidst all the craziness of getting the little ones ready for school. I finally got out of the house, dropped N to school at 9:45am and co-ordinated with this other friend A who offered to give me a ride to the school. Reached NPS HSR at 10 and almost fell off my feet on seeing how long the queue was!!! I was almost ready to turn around and leave coz there was no way I would get even near the school gate till 11:30. And they were only giving out forms from 9-11am according to their website. Yet I tentatively dragged my feet towards the end of the spiral never ending queue and asked the lady at the tail end of the queue if this was the line for admission forms. As she turns her head towards me we both exclaim! She turns out to be my classmate from school (we'll call her S) whom I haven't met since I left school 15 years ago! Now isn't that really just like out of the movies! I said to her if this was one of my ex-boyfriends I would be meeting like this, it would be really really filmi! :-D Oh we start excitedly catching up on every little detail...which hugely helped the 2 hours go by much sooner than it seemed. All the while we just couldn't get over the way met. Turns out she does not live too far from our place and has bought a new place even closer to ours now. I again digress. Back to the 'eventful morning details'. So I have most of my neighbors/friends calling me to give me real-time updates from the queue at the other school (NPS Koramangala) and such almost every 15 minutes. When the clock struck 11:30, we were in a panic mode coz we weren't too far away from the office in the queue but weren't so close that we can get the form and leave in the next 5 minutes to pick up our kids. We kept staring at the clock and at the queue. Finally both S and I made a call and asked our friends to pick up our kids from playschool. Now I've never done this before and I could not stop imagining N's little face wrinkled up in tears on not seeing mommy after school. I have seen it happen to other kids when their mommies were running late and felt terrible for that one minute of panic and sorrow the little ones find themselves in. But this call had to be made coz just the next 5-10 minutes of patience would get us those much coveted forms or else we'd have to repeat this all over again the next day for the same school and the day after for the other branch (NPS Koramangala). My friends convinced me saying she will be not be in strangers' hands...atleast she is with friends whom she knows pretty well. So she will get over it pretty quickly and will be fine if they put on Dora and prop her in front of the TV. And I would be with her in a matter of minutes anyways. S even said that there is always a first time like this...they'll have to learn to survive such things or else we'll never be able to go back to work! I kind of agreed with this thinking but obviously us moms are always full of guilt. So it killed me to stand there...but I did. I finally grabbed the form at 12:15, rushed out with S and reached home by 12:30. Went to my neighbor's to pick up N and found her in the lap of neighbor's kiddo's grandmom propped in front of Dora playing on TV but crying away saying "Let's go home!" It melted my heart and somehow convinced me that this little baby of mine is definitely not ready to go to a huge school like NPS yet. I will be sending her to one of the warm and fuzzy Montessoris nearby until she is a year or two older. Gosh! The only saving grace out of all this was that this nice friend/neighbor was able to somehow manage getting an extra form for me from NPS Koramangala as she was standing in that line this morning...thus saving me from doing this all over again tomorrow. Huge thanks G. And A and S and all of my other girlfriends who came up and offered me some much needed support without me even having to ask for it today. Such times really make me wonder - what would a girl do without such wonderful girlfriends!

Anyway, after N saw me she couldn't stop telling me to take her home. So I hugged her tight and brought her home. We cuddled on our couch and surprisingly she started telling me between her sobs how she saw Dora and Tiko and Isa and Swiper the Fox at T's house! Gosh and I thought all she did was cry out there :-) Then she asked to see Dora on her 'own' TV which I promptly obeyed. There we sat hugging each other tightly for a while and watching Dora thanking God for simple pleasures. I tried getting up to get some water for the child but she pulled me back saying "No...don't go". I was holding back tears on seeing how shaken up she was. After 5-10 minutes of cuddling, she had a bottle of milk and like a peaceful baby fell asleep cozily in my arms. I love you my little child and I am soooo not ready for you to get lost in a huge school yet.

The irony of this while episode is that I was the mom who used to crib in the US saying how everyone rushes to send their kids to school at such a young age in India...and that I'll never fall prey to that madness. And here I was this morning doing the exact same thing! Yes...I can always justify it was solely for the Montessori and what not...but part of me still knows that in the end it is a big school and she will not get the one on one attention she might get in a small or mid-size preschool. But knowing me, I am positive I will still end up filling the form and dropping it off anyway. If she does end up getting accepted, that will be another debate with self...and I don't want to even think about it right now. Will cross that bridge when I come to it. But tell me folks...isn't this falling prey to the exact system I did not want to get into in the first place? What would you have done? Would you have stuck to a mid-size Montessori and gone through this entire madness for getting admissions in the 1st grade? Or would you tackle it all right now and not have to worry about their admission process again in 2-3 years? I personally was always inclined towards not having children go through unnecessary stress so early in their lives. But still can't fail to wonder how I had almost started falling prey to this madness myself! Views? Opinions?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How much more desi and domesticated can I get

Let me say first of all that I don't intend to offend anyone who can relate to this post or dresses up like this...but I thought what hapenned the other day was pretty funny. And I just had to blog about it so that I can come back to this post and laugh when I needed a funny moment.

So there I was getting ready to run a long overdue errand (go to the passport office to renew my recently expired passport). And while I was finally out the door and walking towards my car, a funny thought crossed my mind. I thought "Look at me - all dressed in a jeans with a long desi kurti (the ones you can pair with a salwar), wearing an open toed V-shape slip-ons in my feet, carrying a purse with a long shoulder strap (the kinds whose looks I hate but only carry it now coz it is convenient with a toddler to carry most times along with) and finally - carrying all the necessary documents in a plastic carry bag (instead of a manila folder or my nice red shoulder-cum-laptop bag like I would have normally done just a year ago while in the US). I mean really how much more desi and domesticated could I get???!!!"

And then to top it all, when I went to school after that to pick up little N, one of the other moms there asked me why was I all dressed up today? Really I thought? I mean this was as dressed down as I could be...the most casual look that goes on around here in India. So are you trying to tell me that on other days I am dressed up worse than this? LOL :-)

Nyways, the whole point is that just a year ago, before I was a stay-at-home-mom living in India, I was a person who would never be caught on the streets dressed down in this manner. My definition of dressed down used to be a pair of track pants and an old t-shirt with sneakers or some other form of closed toe comfortable shoes. Thats probably coz my wardrobe consisted mainly of formal wear that I wore to work in the US (pants, tops, sweaters, etc.) or really old clothes I wore at home. None of the in-between ethnic kurtis and stuff. And I was one of those who, for some strange reason, used to frown upon people toting plastic bags to carry documents and such and wearing V-shaped flip-flops that make your feet all dirty in the dust and mud in the streets here. I guess now that you know this part of me, you've finally realized the humor in this story huh :-) Its funny how these stupid dressing notions were so deeply imbibed in my mind that this thought crossed my mind without me even realizing it. Now all that was remaining was a bindi on my appearance and I would fully qualify as one of the manibens from Gujarat ;-)

In all positiveness though, what I wore that day was quite comfortable in the weather conditions here. No wonder this 'look' is so popular amongst women in India. So moral of the story - sometimes you just gotta believe in jaisa des, waisa bhes and give it a try yourself huh.