You Won’t Know Until You Try…

Our 11-year-old son is studying in a Boarding School since last year. Why we chose a Boarding School for our only son? Well, I wrote about our reasons for doing so on Blogadda here.

You wont know until you try

I remember, exactly around this time, last year, our home was buzzing with discussions about Boarding Schools. While KG, my better half, and I were all excited about this new journey, AG, our sonny boy experienced an emotional yo-yo. One minute he was all thrilled and the next moment his face was clouded with doubts. And this continued for a while but when we got the appointment letter from the school, he was very clear and his reaction was a “NO”!

This made us do the reality check and we weighed the pros and cons of sending our only child far away from us. We had a week to decide before giving our final decision to the school. These 6 days were the toughest days for me and KG. There was an intense battle between the head and the heart. Finally, the dialogue from 3 Idiots, which somehow kept reverberating in my head, “darwaze pe gaadi khadi thi, thodhi si himmat kar leta to zindagi kuch aur hoti” decided for us.

While it was sorted between the two of us, how to convince AG without forcing our decision on him was a challenge. And the very next day an opportunity presented itself in front of us.

We had a get together at home the previous night when KG had made a new salad. Since, we religiously follow these 2 rules on the dining table, AG informed me that he’d not be able to eat the salad as there were already a lot of things on his plate. I knew the real reason was his reluctance to try the new salad. I chuckled and agreed.

Next day, I made the same salad for lunch. He gingerly tried it and simply loved it so much so that he took 3 helpings of the same. After lunch, we had a chat which reads like this…

Me : Why are you not keen on the Boarding School?

He : I wouldn’t like it.

Me : How can you say so? Have you experienced the life at Boarding before? Have you heard/ seen anything about it?

He : No

Me : Last night, you did not taste the new salad and today when you tried it, you loved it. When you have never experienced the Boarding life, how can you say that you wouldn’t like it?

With some more gyan from us, he understood our reasoning and agreed.

Last week, we dropped him back to the school for the new session, after his 3 months vacation.

As the vacations were coming to an end, the sinking feeling in my heart deepened. And the child was excited at the prospect of going back. He prepared the list of things he wanted to carry back, gave me numerous reminders and double checked all his bags.

When we finally landed at the school, we were amazed. AG met his friends so warmly, they were hugging and doing hi-5, excitedly discussing their last year’s percentage, grabbing the best bed in the dormitory, making their beds and arranging the clothes and toiletries in their cupboards with such precision and expertise. There was so much of cheerful banter… the teachers, the matrons, the aayajis (helps) were so happy to see the kids back…

Seeing all this made me think that sometimes things that seem to be the hardest turn out to be cake walk especially as far as parenting is concerned. Kids might protest the most but once they are put in a situation they adapt much better than us. Also I remember reading this, “we can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better” and also that you won’t know until you try…

A former pharmaceutical professional-turned-soft-skills facilitator for corporates and mother of  a 11 year old, Shilpa Garg blogs at

  • I am sure it would have been a tough call for you to handle. Your love for your son shone through the post ‘Tough love’ which i read long back and two thumbs up to this mommy for delicately handling AG without forcing yet convincing.

    My perspective about boarding school changed after reading your post ‘Tough love’.. Your plusses outweighed the minus in that post and boarding school is so relevant to today’s times where there are many single children and especially where working parents and non-working moms too are unable to devote more time and parenting is outsourced to nannies/ maids at many homes.

    • I am so glad Asha, that these posts helped you to see boarding schools from a different perspective. It is still tough for us as parents to see an empty home, without the hustle bustle and chatter which only a child can bring in, but when we see the larger picture all our doubts are put to rest. And the fact that he is thoroughly enjoying his school fills us with pride and gives us a lot of comfort.

  • So true Shilpa. It is a tough decision for any parent or child. Great that AG is doing so well and that must be so heartening for both of you.

    • It was indeed heartening to see AG and his friends bond so well and loving meeting each other and being there in the school…

  • So good to know that he is doing well there and is able to bond with his friends. The decision was tough and tougher might have been to make that reluctant child convince about it without forcing anything. I like the example 🙂
    And yeah Kids adjust more quickly .

    • Thanks Nibedita. Yes, the salad example was the clincher. And today when we see such positive changes in him, it makes us forget the tough moments we experience!

  • Its nice that Aaryan loves his school…I loved the way you reasoned with your son about “you wont know until you try”. That philosophy is applicable to all of us. One feels good about doing things only if one chooses it and the decision is not forced upon you…

    • It was important for Aaryan to understand the reasoning, the logic behind our decision of a Boarding School for him. If he was not convinced or happy out there, we would have brought him back.
      Yes, you wont know until you try… is so true for us. Read this… “Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have”.

  • Just to send my daughter to full time school at 3.5, I had a big battle between “head and heart”. I can only imagine what you went through .. all’s well that ends well !!

    • I can so relate to your predicament and the battle within, Divya! But as you rightly mentioned, all’s well that ends well! 🙂

  • Very well written and I totally agree with you!!! We will not know unless we try!!!

    • Thank you so much, Smita. True, you don’t know what you can do until you try!

  • “Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better” – Excellent quote. Do you remember the author? You might see it soon on my FB wall 😉

    When I was young, it was common knowledge that parents send erring kids to boarding school and hence we were all terrorized by it. On the top of it, some kids tried to build boarding school horror stories (mostly lies) and made it even more feared!! 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • Thanks Rajesh. This quote is by C. JoyBell C.
      Boarding Schools are not for undisciplined kids or brats and they are not some kind of prisons where the rule of the stick prevails. That’s the misconception that most people have…

  • I liked the way you wanted your son to get convinced rather than forcing your decision on him. A pat on the back, Mommy. It must be so heartwarming for you to see him enjoy his school.

    • Thanks Sheetal. Seeing him adapt so well in his school and liking it too gladdens our hearts!

  • Another great post Shilpa. And very true, even for adults. I never liked changes very much but after we had our little wonder, I changed. Now we want to make sure little one is open to ideas. Best way to do is by example, we believe. It made us more open to everything around. 🙂

    These boarding school days would end soon and Aaryan would thank you later in his life for giving him this great opportunity.

  • Alka

    It must have been tough Shilpa. When my only son left for college I was devastated. But then I realized that once we have given them roots, we should not clip the wings.
    I am sure the decision was in the best interests of your son.

    • Thanks for sharing such a beautiful thought, Alka. As parents we need to give our children the roots and the wings. Though it takes a very strong will and heart to take this decision but nothing is more important than what is in the best interest of your child.

  • Thanks a lot, Priyanka. True, explaining with the help of examples always results in better understanding of concepts (our school/college days are proof of that).
    Thanks for adding a new perspective to the discussion. Agree completely, when we are open to change, we learn a lot as somebody rightly said, ‘an open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it’.
    We are hoping that too, Priyanka 🙂

  • Rahul

    Any change in life upsets the apple cart! The reality is that’ change ‘is the only constant in life that we should welcome as it opens new vista in life

    • Well said Rahul. Charles Darwin had said, it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change!!

  • I went to stay in a hostel for the later part of my education.
    And I know how hard it was for my parents.
    So I can see, it must be even harder for you as a parent.
    And then to keep your emotions aside and convince him in a way that he accepts it, amazing !! you are really a great parent. It ain’t easy.

    • Thanks a lot, Parul. Am so glad that you understand the thought behind and the sacrifice involved!

  • It is good that you sat down with him and explained and talked to him like an adult.

  • Why would any parent do anything which is not in interest of their child?
    In my opinion,child must get the feeling of security besides noraml care.You must have given AG the right amount of security–sense of security–much before boarding became a realty.For him what seems important is,My parents are always there for me.
    I feel this gives a child a lot of confidence,a reason to move on and always sgression for success.
    Shipla, AG is your child,but,tell me me if I am wrong in my assesment?

    • You are absolutely right, Mr Chowla. A child has to get the feeling that his parents are doing the best for him, are there for him always, love him a lot… and I believe AG gets that feeling from us!

  • Megha Hindocha

    Very nicely said Shilpa….one would certainly not know unless you try it out and the main thing here is the wonderful way in which you maid the child choose and not force in on him…. :))

    • Thank you Megha. Forcing such decisions can never work. If the child is not happy, neither we as parents would be so the best is to get the buy-in on the idea/thought!

  • Shilpa dear, Aryan is very fortunate that he has such loving and caring parents. How convincingly but indirectly you made him agree to go to the hostel. Staying in a hostel must have made him self reliant, and confident. Give him my ‘aashirvaad’.

    • Thank you so much Ma’am for the blessings! Am touched and honored! Yes, the boarding school has brought some very positive changes in him.

  • Thats a tough call. A very tough one at that. I cant imagine taking that call ! Every decision has its merits and demerits. Every system has! You are venturing on a path that is less trodden. And that is super tough. Thank you for sharing. good luck to you!

    • Agree, Kavi, it is a tough decision and we are hoping that the merits would outweigh the demerits! Thank you for the wishes 🙂

  • I totally understand how difficult it must have been for the entire family, Shilpa. Been there, done that. We had to send Rushi to India for an year two times and it was very hard. Sometimes, when things get worse here we feel like sending him to a boarding school. But again, we are scared if it will make things better or worse. Really glad that Aaryan adapted well..hope all your efforts wont go in vain and you guys make the best of it.

    • I know what you mean, Latha! That uncertainty is there, but then it goes on to prove yet again that you wont know until you try!! Thank you so much for the warm words and wishes 🙂

  • anilkurup

    Well said SG. Kids adapt to situations faster and well, because their inhibitions fall off sooner . It is we adults who cling on to preconceived and prejudiced notions.

    • You are absolutely right, Anil. I remember, when we were still contemplating about the school, a friend whose kids are also in the same boarding told us “You decide for yourself, whether you’ll be able to cope up. Your child will simply love it there.” And it’s exactly what she said. We still struggle at our end, while Aaryan has adapted so well and so fast!

  • Dear Shilpa,

    It is indeed difficult to send your boy so far away from you. But when one weighs the pros and cons and finds that boarding outweighs living at home and studying then I suppose it has to be done. I personally would not be able to handle such a situation as of now as I personally feel that anything can be handled for the child as long as parents are around.
    But then, situations vary from family to family. Wishing you, your husband and Aaryan all the very best.