This morning, I was walking in the compound when I saw a steady stream of school children walking towards the end of the driveway which for years has been a designated “Bus stop” for all the school buses picking up children on our road. With cars clogging up streets, most schools in Bombay have now made the bussing compulsory, a move welcomed by most parents who are happy to be relieved of the duty of dropping the children off to school.
School buses have also made the traffic jams more manageable though sometimes, when I see those huge monstrosities hogging up the road, I wonder if they are the better of the two evils. However, it’s fun seeing the children going to the bus stop. Some of them literally look as though they’ve just rolled out of bed and into their school uniforms, wiping off their milk moustaches and patting their hair in place while some are perky and cheerful and rarin’ to go!
They make a pleasant sight: a gaggle of kids in different uniforms and different attitudes, their bags at their feet, just waiting. A few looking downright bored swinging their water bottles, scuffing their shoes, playing with their hair or yawning while some are busy cramming some last minute stuff and some of course are busy yapping, telling tales and swapping news.
Seeing them, takes me back to my girls’ school days when I had to do the School Run in my tiny little Premier Padmini. It was fun (most days) driving them to school and all the various activities that they enjoyed – piano lessons, birthday parties, badminton, tennis or swimming class… I not only took my own little girls to school but I often had a “mini bus” with several kids taking a lift along with us.
The first School bell rang at 8.00 and we would leave the house around 7.30 because the girls loved the early morning catch up time with friends before the bell rang. As they graduated to Senior School, we had to leave even earlier as there were practices to attend: badminton, elocution, and choir, debates and believe it or not even March Past and Cross Country Training!
The morning run was easy even if I had to pick up some kids on the way as it took only 5-7 minutes in the morning to reach school as there was no traffic on the roads! So except for those rainy days which really got you down, I used to enjoy zipping down Marine Drive every morning, come rain or shine. It was in the evenings that things used to get tedious especially if we got caught in the evening rush hour jam.
While driving could get physically exhausting, I’d use that time for meaningful interaction with my girls and we’d play games like General Knowledge quizzes, tell jokes or stories imagining what the person in the next car must be – is he a spy? Could he be an accountant? We also played my favourite cassettes (if you remember them) and sang along with Madonna, MLTR, Andrew Webber Lloyd and Enrique Iglesias.
When the kids were in Junior school we sang Nursery songs like the ‘Wheels of the Bus’, ‘Willoughby Wallaby Woo’, played games like what begins with the letter “a”, what rhymes with ‘time’ , what was the Hindi word for ‘suddenly’, how many black cars were there on the road, etc. etc. basically games that were age appropriate.
If there was a test coming up we’d revise facts; the aim being to spend those moments gainfully. I would pack up a small snack for each child (even for the others) on the way back so that they had something to munch on other than the back of the front seat cover which I found was systematically nibbled at by the Radhakrishnan boys in the school run of 1988.
My birds have long since flown the nest and I no longer have to drive them anywhere. While I get those extra minutes to do other things, I strangely miss those days on the road especially when there were just the three of us in the car. It used to be the best time ever when we could actually talk, with no phone calls or door bells to disturb us, a time when we actually lived in the moment. Who knows, though what fate has in store and I may be called to take the wheel yet again and enjoy those moments of quality time with my grandchildren.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood