And it begins here.. A for advice, (mostly the unsolicited kind)

Welcome to my first post in the A2Z challenge 2019. As promised, I am going to take you through an account of our eventful journey for our toddler’s school admissions. Trying to fix a timeline to such a roller-coaster ride is difficult but I have tried to restrict it from Sept 2018 until March 2019 to keep the emotions relevant and undiluted. 

After giving birth to my son Tuneer aka Jr. T in Sept 2015, our initial worries revolved around the challenges of breastfeeding to his vaccination schedules, his health and his reluctance to sleep the whole night. After turning a year old, our focus area shifted to his development charts, balanced nutrition, and preventing him from eating every inedible item around. Another year later, we had become a little wary of his capability of locking us out, embarrassing us in social circles by saying things that were not meant to be told to outside the house and his willingness to continue talking gibberish for hours. At this stage, we had started thinking of putting him in a preschool once he turned 2.5 yrs old. Considering distance, safety, and hygiene as the primary factors, we enrolled him in one of the finest Montessori houses, a decision that helped my soft and shy son become more social.

Jotting down his own experiences realted to admission huh
Jotting down his own experiences related to admission, huh?

Before we knew, almost everyone around us was talking about the school admissions and the long-lasting impact a school had on a child’s future. Now Sr. T and I have diametrically opposite parenting ideas and beliefs. Thankfully he is posted in a remote corner of Bengal, giving me ample opportunities to have a final say in matters related to raising the child. To narrow down our choices to six schools within a radius of 10kms from our residence was no less than a mammoth task, especially because none of us had done our schooling in Kolkata. At some point, I was quite sure that one more conflict between us was either leading to a divorce or a murder. But that is a story for another day. Amidst all the chaos, two major things happened in September 2018 – the boy turned three and the first school in our list published their admission notice.

In our society, after a child is born, he/she belongs to not just his/her parents but to both the families. In short, everyone has some piece of advice related to the weight, skin color, behavior, and future of the child. Parenting is always under a scanner and judged irrespective of the effort and outcome. Add to it, the over curious neighbors and super intrusive well-wishers whose favorite job also seems a comparison between your child and some random kid. 

So, when it came to Tuneer’s school admissions, could these self-confessed well-wishers be left behind! I doubt if the admission process would have been half as interesting without these people in our lives who unintentionally provided a daily dose of entertainment to us. Let me list down the five most famous advice that managed to stay with us even today –

Both of you are from a small town. You have no idea about how difficult admissions in Calcutta schools are. That is why I consider it to be my duty to guide you.” By an uncle, who happens to be from the same small town as us and had his children study there. He has barely stayed in Kolkata for 5 yrs and already calls himself a Calcutta man.

“Isn’t your husband a doctor? Ask him to pay donation money and get your child admitted. Why do you need to go through so much ordeal when there is a way out?” by the mother of my son’s preschool classmate who had no qualms of following the same route.

“Tuneer is very soft and sensitive. He is intelligent but what is the use of knowledge if he doesn’t open his mouth in front of the interviewers? My grandson is so smart that he was selected on the spot only.  You should leave him in a daycare center for six months. Out of fear, he will start becoming more outgoing.” by a relative who refuses to stop comparing my son with her grandson despite the five year age difference between them.

“For you, it will be difficult to get through *** school (the most preferred choice in our list). They only prefer working parents because they believe when both parents work, the child has his role models in the house itself. Last year, they haven’t selected any child whose mother was a homemaker. You shouldn’t have quit Banking. Writing and blogging are fancy things but that’s not like real work.” by a friend born and brought up in Calcutta and whose daughter studies in the same school.

“Who studies in Calcutta these days? In fact who thinks of staying in such a dead city now? Leave the sentimental factors aside and think logically. You both have a future and your son definitely deserves better. Move back to Bangalore or consider shifting to Mumbai.” by a close friend of my husband from his medical school who had chosen to settle down in Australia for a bright future of his half Indian – half Indonesian kids. 

We laughed at some, we shuddered at a few suggestions and a couple managed to get me really angry.  If there was something common between Sr. T and me in handling such pieces of advice, it was the choice to ignore them and block out obnoxious elements. Of course, we sought advice but only from people whose opinion mattered to us like my father and his parents, Tuneer’s class teachers and Principal and a few close friends from the city. 

Stay tuned as I come out with my next post tomorrow – B for ?

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I completed a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. in Dec 2020. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head, three-plus years of blogging, writing, and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes! Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my five-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter, and give words to emotions. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

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