A short while back, Let’s Play, School! was born. A still shorter while later, I sit here, forgotten as a mom. As my son warmed up to the newness of a routine in school and new play mates to use his abundant creative and naughty energies with, his mother was relegated to a singular role – that of dropper to-picker from school, hanging the bag and bottle behind her aging back. And turning away a little disappointed every morn. Why?
Well, the ta-tas to her were said as cheerfully as the good morning to the teachers. Sometimes, while running excitedly to enter his school, he even forgot to turn back as he waved adieu. While I wallow in this disappointment trying to gain a saucer full of sympathy from fellow parents, I also reveal how happy it makes me to think that not a single time did he say – ‘Mumma, no school today.’
However, to be curious is human; but to be killed by curiosity simply stupid. Curiosity, the cat had its paws around my throat and was knocking on my heart’s door saying – Are you not eager to know what your child does 3 hours away from you every day? Don’t you want to see what happens within those beautifully coloured and welcoming walls – between him and his friends, his teachers and his didis? The devil ruled away all thoughts of appropriateness, and off I went to consult the principle if I could spend a few minutes in their school, hidden from my little imp’s view but with a camera to capture what it could.
Here it is then, a sneak-peak into my pre-schooler’s life, where I will let the pictures speak. Well, almost.
Picture – 1 – Fascination – That moment when you forget what surrounds you, or who. A moment of rapt attention, mouth open, eyes and ears even more. Mind fully in attention to what caught it’s fancy. Taking in and assimilating. Maybe something new. Or maybe the old, put in a new bottle to be consumed anew.
Picture – 2- Being a Part – of a crowd. Adding to the heterogeneity by bringing in your unique personality and thoughts. At the same time, flapping wings in the melting pot of sameness. Of being children together. Little hands and happy feet. Dancing to the same ‘Teddy Bear Teddy Bear’, albeit at different speeds. And different thoughts in the head.
Picture – 3 – Finding Yourself – against the grain and away from the crowd, perhaps. Thinking and wondering when to take that first step. Walk over and grab what beckons. Leave the rest behind with their collective thoughts even as you find your own to lead you. Or to lead them, in turn. Is that how a leader is born. Away from the maddening crowd? Or an artist? A hero, most certainly.
Picture – 4 – Obedience – But there is a boundary, one that keeps us within. A routine, a schedule, a programmed existence. Such is life, even in a pre-school. You learn to obey, follow the queue. In obedience you learn to heed, and in heeding perhaps you learn. To join your hands and say a little prayer, or to sing your country’s song.
Picture – 5 – Affection – Because nothing else matters more, or ceases to matter, if love doesn’t. What is admiration but a shoot stemming from love? A connect which makes us equals, but one which keeps us looking up to the other even more too. To be heard it’s good to be loved. Not to be feared, but loved. And respect follows close behind.
Picture – 6 - Team Work – Doing. And doing together. So what if it’s Ring-around-the-Rosies. The circle remains incomplete, the dance amiss, if the hands are not held and the feet not move in unison. Where falling down matters not, since a team exists to pull you back up. Or stand up for you, instead. But most importantly, to make room for the news ones to enter.
Picture – 7 – Boredom – It’s allowed. Even Gods and Goddesses yawn. We are only super stars. Yawn away, like there’s no tomorrow. No hand that need cover the mouth. Remain tots, and in gay abandon. Swing to-and-fro to keep those eyes open, and fall off the chair, asleep. Or take a break, look away and give your mind some alone time to hatch the next naughty plan.
Picture – 8- Be Naughty – Let those eyes do the talking. Or the raspberry make itself heard. In the middle of A for Apple, let the T for Tongue peep out. Some one’s getting the message, in a language that only children speak, and understand. Someone is being naughty, since nice is for those girls with bows in their hair. And Santa’s visit down the chimney still a long way off.
Picture – 9- Saying – Something. Anything. It need not even make sense. Or sound like words at all. You only need to say something, as you open that mouth to let the mind out. Even if it’s an ‘ahh!’ soon to be echoed by the others. Or an attempted word understood more by its tone than by the word itself. Saying, is being. Not saying is being too.
Picture – 10 – Learning – Of course. Isn’t that why we were sent here? Colours, shapes and numbers. Vehicles, animals and fruits. Learning and learning some more. Stringing it all together. The language humans speak, what they call sense, or education. Gaining knowledge, and keeping it tucked inside. Growing and growing up, both.
Picture – 11 – Being Human – Hunger means food. Table manners mean not a thing. Open that mouth wide and stuff it down till the bottom of the tummy. A moment so sweet, a joy to watch. Little children trying to eat on their own. Licking their plates clean, or others sulking behind the door. ‘Not hungry’ and they look away. Even as their friends play with the food, and are made to swallow. Appetites, they differ. Tastes even more.
Picture – 12- Respecting those who serve – Start them young, let the ABC wait. But let them not miss the idea of feeling one with those who serve them, as soon as can be. Let them know what service means, and let them say their thank you. After all, the real judge of a person’s character is always how he speaks to those not as privileged as him. Life’s little instruction, but important. Essential. And more often than not, forgotten.
Picture – 13- Wins and Losses – So life is a race, run at different speeds. But run! Some fall some lag behind. Some learn to surpass them all. Stand first, as they say. You learn what winning means at a really young age. And learn to feel the loss, even before you learn to spell it. Competition comes ingrained, or does it? Life is a race. No escape. Just run, even if at different speeds.
Picture – 14- Dissent – That alternative point of view. Or a subaltern opinion. A rebellion in a crayon box, or a willful refusal to see and learn. No mood, or maybe it’s the runny nose. But I don’t want to read it, I just don’t. Children discovering the power of no, and teachers and parents too. The argumentative Indian is as essential as the one who is ready to be towed. Someone had to think different, for the caves to be left behind.
And then it’s time to go home.
Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in