The last year in kindergarten

Taking stock of the entire academic year gone by sounds like a tough task but doing so before Pari starts her next session is all the more important. No matter how faded my memory of the events of past year might be, it is definitely vivid when compared to, say ten or perhaps five years from today. This is what makes this school diary entry, all the more important.

last year of kindergarten

Pari’s last year in kindergarten started with the relief that the series of awkward encounters that were the highlight of our past year were done with.

The much-awaited summer vacations (of 2016) gifted me an important parenting lesson. My dance lover 4-year-old might be the best dancer when she follows her heart, yet, she was still too young for formal training in classical dance. I  accepted this fact, only after I met Guruji , who conducts Kathak classes in our area. I understood that often passion alone isn’t enough to give birth to a star performer. Age and maturity play a vital role, in helping nurture the talent, giving it the wings it needs to scale unseen heights.

I spent the whole year counting days to the summer vacation of 2017 to get Pari to join the dance class we visited last year. However, recently, something has changed. Pari has suddenly lost all mojo to learn to dance. While she still loves dancing, she is keener about drawing and painting. This has left me clueless about what we will be doing these summer holidays that are hardly a month away.

This confusion stems from the fact that I want my daughter to follow her heart. I really do. But at the back of my mind, I can hear voices of my parents, that say, I need to be the guiding force for my child. I must encourage her to pursue formal training in the field she has both interest and talent, to become someone noteworthy at a later date.

The quandary has its roots in my childhood when I too was often reluctant to join a new class solely for the fear of the unknown. But the day I’d start the class, motivated by my parents (mainly mom) I’d be acquired by the joy of learning something new and making new friends.

What if that is exactly the case with my daughter?

What if I’m putting at stake the future of a star, just cause she is too young to know if she really wants to learn the nuts and bolts of dancing?

I’m perplexed.

Anyway, I digress.

When Pari had participated in the Janamashtmi celebrations at her school, her dance teacher had given her the center position because she (apparently) was the best dancer in the group. Her performance was appreciated by one and all, from her friends to the helpers in the school and of course the teachers. But, when the prize for the best dancer went to the headmistress’ child, I saw Pari learn what privilege meant in a way I couldn’t have taught her better at her age.

It took me a while to help Pari see, that these small privileges are mere sparks, that might be the highlight of a day, but can never illuminate the way to a successful future. Only hard work and dedication can.

This incident has changed my child considerably. I noticed this during preparation for the annual sports event. Pari was last in the past year’s race. This year I could see her determined like a mountain goat intent to learn to climb the steep mountain. She might not be the fittest scholar in her class, but in those 2-3 weeks, I saw a fierce competitive streak in her that I never knew existed.

Suddenly her usual fuss over eating was gone. She’d wake half an hour early than her usual time only to practice running. All she cared for was beating her last year’s record and winning the gold medal. Her labor bore fruit. This year, she ran like Bolt and won by a big margin.

Standing on the podium in front of a cheering crowd has only fanned Pari’s burning desire to outdo her every performance. I can often hear her mutter that she wants to outdo herself, her every performance, day by day.

Her unflinching resolve came in handy when she fell seriously ill with the gastrointestinal infection hardly days before her annual exams.

Needless to say, I was the only worry-wart in our home. My parents were solely focussed on Pari’s health while I couldn’t help but worry if my child’s hard work of the past many months was about to go in vain.

Whereas Pari was her usual calm, composed self. Her only point of concern was the bitter cocktail of medicines she was being forced to swallow every few hours. The day she got better, despite the weakness, she was studying, revising and was her usual confident self.

Her academic result has proved yet again, that my daughter hasn’t inherited my quibble gene. This is among the handful traits that I am grateful for not handing down to my child.

They say, “Becoming a parent, changes everything.” It does. Not just when the child is born, but several times in life as we relearn the life-lessons with a changed perspective, in the light of our children’s view of life.

A new chapter, a new session of learning and growing begins in a week’s time and us, the stationery lover, mother-child duo, can’t wait to embark on the favorite part of the school year. Shopping for new books and stationery and scribbling in the best handwriting in freshly covered books and notebooks.

The song on my mind: Yunhi kat jayega safar sath chalne se ~ Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke

Jittery Nerves

The day the school reopened after summer holidays, Pari brought home a circular about a recitation competition in a week’s time and the elimination round in 2 days.

In the Internet age, finding a poem matching the guidelines isn’t tough. But while making the final choice like always I consulted Pari as to which one she liked best (much against my mum’s protests) and we had a poem ready to be learnt.

As the school had emphasized no props would be allowed, it all boiled down to the child’s recitation skills, memory, confidence, actions and the like. This is where Pari and me part ways. She is the cool, confident, composed one while I’m a freaking out, jittery parent, worrying endlessly for a recitation competition of a 4-year-old.

Reciting the poem twice and Pari was done. She wouldn’t practice a third time and off she went to play leaving me wondering if she’ll be able to recite it well during the elimination round. The following day, she declined all my requests for rehearsal and went straight to school. Surprisingly enough Pari was selected to recite on the final day.

This time around I wanted her to practice well before the day of the competition but Pari was her calm, casual self, doing what she likes, practiced twice and done with it. Though I was tempted to push my child I somehow resisted (with great difficulty). In my heart, I was imagining myself in Pari’s shoes with my mother making me practice repeatedly. I’d fail to sleep well at night, bitten by the anxiety bug and a simple poetry recitation felt like a Hollywood screen-test to me at Pari’s age. I have always been a curious case of stage fright going cold, shaky, pale just before stepping on the stage and on many occasions forgetting my lines or mixing them up.

“I am inundated with feeling. I feel like a pinball machine on tilt. All the buzzers are ringing, lights are flashing, and I am about to fry my circuits. Nothing is coming in,and nothing is going out. I feel electrified. The wires ignited, sparked, and fizzled. I want it all to slow down. I go right to the water to douse my flame.” –  Holly A. Smith

But my daughter is different. She slept well, got up on time and went about the morning like any other day. I was watching her closely, trying to warm up to her positive energy, working on tempering my anxious self and learn a tip or two from my offspring.

There is something so calming, comforting in Pari’s confident demeanor that I can feel her positive energy envelop me in its warm embrace. Pacify me in a reassuring way. Something similar happened that morning too.

nervous

I spent a busy day but at the back of my mind, I had this good feeling that Pari will do well in the competition irrespective of whether she wins a prize or not. That afternoon when she got back from school, she had no clue as to who had won and on being asked how did she go, she told me she’d recited exactly the way I had taught her. This reply left me baffled, wondering if I had done enough in making her put her best foot forward.

Later in the afternoon, Pari confided in me that as she was the first person to recite, she got a little nervous and missed out doing a few actions (that I’d taught her) though the recitation had gone well. It confused me further but I decided to put it all behind me learning my lessons well.

The following afternoon when Pari got home from school, I checked her bag for the home work and guess what popped out. A certificate. Pari had won the second prize and when I asked her, she said she’d forgotten to mention it to me in her familiar calm manner.

While I learn so much from my own trepidations, priceless lessons of keeping my nerves in control come from my child. I can’t stop being amazed by how Pari manages to control anxiety and exhilaration from swamping her like it does to me.

Picture Source: theberry.com

The song on my mind: Ek pyar ka nagma hai ~ Shor

Gifts

While the debate on bribing kids against rewarding them only for good behavior seems to have no end, I am going to touch upon gifts in an all together new reference in this post.

Last month, post Holi was Pari’s progress report day. She was due to receive the report of her performance in the final exams.

For the records, her school has grading system as Good, Could do better and Needs to practice more; instead of the regular A, B, C. And ranking is not allowed. Besides, it being the result of the performance of 4 year olds, I was excited to see how Pari had performed after the hard-work she’d invested in preparation for the exams.

When I reached Pari’s class, what I saw was totally unexpected. The parents were less into seeing through the exam sheets and more into giving gifts to the teacher. Gifts are not allowed in Pari’s school so the teacher could be heard making meet-up plans in hushed tone. There were a few parents who could be heard boasting aloud how lavish a Holi party they’d hosted and how they loved to see the teacher and her family enjoy after having taken care of their child.

I might sound like an alien, but, I found these words and scenes pretty disturbing. The joy on finding how wonderfully my child had performed, how her exam sheets were lined with stars and ‘Very Good’ everywhere seemed to have suddenly taken a back-seat.

I have always felt that I’m a crazy parent but that day I witnessed first signs of confirmation of this belief.

I was left unnerved by the brief events of that day. I couldn’t help but wonder what good did such gifts bring for the young minds. Is this not a way of bribing the teachers to seek good grades in exams and leave worry of the child’s performance on the back burner?

While the corruption aspect of this didn’t bother me as much as it fueled a train of thoughts, as to what impact such  behavior had on the minds of their children?

Bribery Quote

This was the scene when the school wasn’t giving marks, grades or ranks. And who amongst us remembers what marks we had scored in kindergarten or class 1 or even class 3 for that matter? And even if you do remember your marks, does it have any impact on your life?

But, what I learnt as a 4-year-old is still etched in my mind. I still remember what my parents or teachers at that tender age taught me or showed me. Maybe I am over-reacting to a norm, maybe I dwell in a Utopian world in my mind, but somewhere something felt very wrong to me. Now that I know what is the usual practice by other parents, still I have no intentions what-so-ever to go out of my way to give gifts to Pari’s teachers in the new session.

What are your thoughts on gifting teachers?

Is it a norm and an acceptable practice?

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.