I have been wanting to write this from a long time. To be precise, from the time Pari started going to school in a bus. But, I held back, because one, I wanted to give things a fair chance to change and secondly, I wasn’t sure whether to add it to the school diary series or let it just sit as an idle post.
Giving up all the confusions, laziness and inhibitions, let’s do the talking. From Pari’s bus stop there are just two kids who take the school bus. The other child, let’s name her Nina* is a 7-year-old. On realizing that Nina will be accompanying Pari, my initial line of thought was, this would be a great opportunity for Pari to mingle with an older child (in absence of a sibling) and learn the ways of life from a whole new perspective.
So far so good. But to make this natural bonding or friendship to happen, it was obvious that the parents who came along with the kids need to develop a rapport. I bet you must be wondering what’s unusual about expecting these things. Hold on your horses because the story has just begun.
Let us begin from day one (that is the morning following this day). Early in the morning, Pari, myself and my father arrived at the bus stop, ten minutes ahead of the time. A couple of minutes later, Nina arrived with her father. My father & I decided to introduce ourselves to Nina’s father to know each other better. However, Nina’s father, chose to introduce himself as the man behind <insert name of his business> rather than his own name. He chose to not be interested in who we were or anything related to Pari (her name, class, etc.)
His cold, nonchalant attitude killed our excitement in matter of seconds and we noticed his disinterest in becoming friends. It was entirely his choice and we as a matter of fact, chose to give him time to open up (if he ever would).
On the other hand, Nina who was sitting in their car, threw a tantrum saying she didn’t want to go to school. After little cajoling, her father managed to have her board the bus. Pari on the other hand was amused at Nina’s behavior and once she got back from school asked me why was Nina crying in the morning.
At that time, I told Pari that since Nina had recently changed school, she was missing her old friends and she might take sometime to begin liking her new school. Though Pari did get a grasp of this because she too has shifted school, but all this while, I could see her thinking why wasn’t Nina friendly towards her, unlike other children in the bus.
I am often amazed by Pari’s thought process. She often thinks and sees things that I, despite being a parent fail to note. Days moved on, but Nina’s tantrums started changing to making excuses of having aches here and there just to avoid school. I was well aware it was none of my business, but seeing a child panic struck, struggling hard to avoid school, made me go uneasy. I couldn’t shrug off her thought from my mind, hours after my visits to the bus stop.
15 days had passed since the new session started, but Nina was no-where enjoying the school life. Her father could be heard making excuses to the nanny in the bus to cover up Nina’s reluctance at boarding the bus. While all this continued, the situation between me and Nina’s father didn’t ease out. (Please note, my father accompanied us to the bus stop only for the first few days, now it was just Pari & me).
In the meantime, Pari befriended a handful of children in the bus. All elder to her but they seemed to have bonded like sisters in no time. They’d look forward to meeting each other, share snacks, sweets and even choose to sit together in the bus at all times.
As days moved on, Nina who had been staying grumpy and aloof all this while (for over a month) started feeling lonely. This was when her father approached Pari in an attempt to have her become friends with Nina. But the awkwardness was that her father and I are still far from being in talking terms. On a few occasions when I tried to greet him at the bus stop, he chose to give me a cold shoulder.
However, I have been talking to Pari about befriending Nina so that she doesn’t feel lonely. Things started changing recently when Nina started talking more with Pari. These days, Nina smiles the minute she spots me or Pari, walks up to us, has started making effort to join in Pari & her (Pari’s) bus friends. I can see Nina’s father wishing that Nina gets along with Pari because Pari loves going to school, makes friends pretty comfortably and yes, she isn’t scared to swim.
In Pari’s school, swimming is compulsory for all students right from Nursery. While Pari has taken to swimming from day one like a fish, Nina is very scared of the swimming lessons. My line of thought in this matter is, her parents should work with the school staff to help qualm Nina’s fears. But, what I see happening is, her father (cause I get to meet only him at the bust stop so I have no idea about her mother) has been trying hard to drum the idea in Nina’s head that all ‘good’ girls swim and ‘bad’ girls don’t.
This line of thought should make me glad that Pari is being called a ‘good’ girl. But my wrongly wired mind worries on hearing such things. Why have someone’s fears (that too of a child’s) be used to condition them as good or bad? Why can’t fears be named as they are and the child be taught how to gradually conquer them rather than shaming the child for being scared?
I don’t know, why I am so bugged by these things which as a friend told me “are none of my business”. As a parent, isn’t it important to help our children learn about life on a daily basis? What’s happening with Nina could happen to any child for that matter, then why can’t we all try to help each other and our children grow?
I know it sounds complicated and we can’t have a world where people behave the way we please. But this awkward behaviour from Nina’s father has been disturbing me from many days. I sincerely hope, someday things will change and Nina will learn to enjoy school and swimming.
* Name has been changed to protect identity.
Read the next part here.
The song on my mind: Jaane Kyun ~ Dostana