S for Settling Down

When I look back at my own childhood, I see a girl who always made her parents proud on the day of the final term results. Though my parents never pressurized me for studies (honestly, they never needed to!), my Professor father often spoke about how a good academic record acted as a catalyst in getting through reputed institutions and eventually helped in settling down professionally. I took his words to heart and went on scaling milestones until I did my first post-graduation from Delhi. The city taught me to live on my own since I knew my father couldn’t make those monthly trips anymore. 

Two years later when I shifted to Bangalore for my doctorate program from one of India’s topmost institutes, I had finally unleashed the nomad in me. It took me eight months only to realize that I neither had the attitude nor aptitude to do research. My supervisor almost lost his mind wondering how I could manage to be so bad at even basic research. But the best thing about such a devastating incident (for my supervisor, not me) was that I dived into the corporate world with a job in a Market Research firm (without an iota of understanding what MR really was).

I worked for two years before the bug of MBA bit me and I went back to academics again. This was when I had turned twenty-six and my father was due to retire in two years. Life at corporate world post-B-school was supposed to be about savings, investments and settling down. But I was busy quitting, changing jobs or moving cities while the husband was busy studying further and doing his M.D. We lived our lives convincing each other that ‘Darr ke age jeet hai’ (don’t even ask why!)

My father and father-in-law neither understand nor appreciate my whimsical nature. But my husband who probably believes in the importance of stability as much as these two defended every move of mine saying ‘creative people are never satisfied.’ After we moved back to Kolkata, our families had hoped that they would finally see us settling down. But luck has a strange way of playing spoilsport. Sr. T was posted far away from the Kolkata. And in 2017, I decided to go the solopreneur route to start this blog and take up writing as a profession with a two-year-old in tow. To cut the story short, we have successfully lost the plot to settle down.

Tuneer on spotting his preschool gate. Deciding if he should start shedding tears now.
Tuneer on spotting his preschool gate. Deciding if he should start shedding tears now.

Tuneer has followed my footsteps with precision and taken the idea of staying unsettled to another extreme. In April 2018, when the kid joined a preschool, we had tried to make the transition as smooth as possible. He came out devoid of any emotion on day one while almost every other kid was crying. I had such a wave of pity for their poor parents. Little did I know that for the next year, I would be at the receiving end of their sympathy while dragging a wailing child through the corridor.

Tuneer’s preschool Principal had tried to convince me that he would definitely settle down post-summer vacation because by then, he would realize how much he missed school. Every vacation (be it summer or winter) made the return to school more difficult where I had to literally carry the boy to school. By then, he had figured out the tricks of the trade. So if he cried long enough, Sr. T got him any item of his choice as consolation. But if he cried while his grandparents were around, chances were high that they would convince me to let him skip preschool. The end result was that he never settled down in his preschool.

Just before going to school
Just before going to school

The second last interview for admissions was held in a school that followed the methodology of two rounds of the interview on two different days. In the first round, Tuneer was seated in front of a teacher while Sr. T and I interacted with two other teachers in the same room. The teacher who was interviewing me took out a piece of paper from the multiple chits inside the glass bowl kept between us. The question that was directed to me went as, “Suppose your child creates a fuss every day before coming to school and he keeps crying even after a trimester is completed. What will you do to ensure that he settles down eventually and not develop a phobia of education?”

I looked at her stunned. For a second, I had a feeling that someone had already informed the school about how badly I had failed to help the child overcome his reluctance to go to school. But I gathered myself instantly and made it sound like I was already a pro in dealing with such situations. There’s no point to having done a management course (that too, with marketing specialization) if one hasn’t mastered the art of storytelling in real life situations. By then Tuneer had finished his mini-interview and stood beside me listening to the answer. He had started understanding selective English words clearly and for him ‘settle-down’ was familiar territory.

Moments after returning from school
Moments after returning from school

After Tuneer uttered his first words, elders in the family would often advise us to be cautious with our choice of words in front of him. The reason became clear to me the moment Tuneer opened his mouth to speak next. “I will not settle down. Mummum says I have been crying for one year now at the preschool. Even if I come here, I will still scream and cry.” No amount of sign language through the eyes could stop the spontaneity of this innocent devil.

Expecting the worst, I had not even checked the results of this eventful interaction after three weeks. When Tuneer made it to the second round and was eventually selected in the final list, I couldn’t help but appreciate the courage of the interviewer who chose to have faith in my abilities rather than trust the boy’s solemn promise to continue crying. 

When there's a three day holiday over the weekend
When there’s a three day holiday over the weekend

Tuneer, staying firm in his resolve hasn’t disappointed us after joining the same school last week. Of the three days that he has attended class until now, he has cried on the last two days (though this time he has asked me to keep this a secret from his grandparents)Yesterday he has made his intention clear by saying that no chocolate or Peppa Pig book can now lure him into entering the school premises peacefully.

Of course, Sr. T cannot just stay away from contributing his bit in this kind of situations. Often when I am found pleading with the boy to reconsider his decision to cry, the man enters the scene with a condescending smile and unsolicited opinion like, “But you only say it is ok for boys to cry. Why are you confusing him now?”. Someday I am going to seek vengeance for this. But as of now, I am busy escaping from running into the interviewer who teaches in the same building where Tuneer is found shrieking at the top of his voice daily. As I reach the end of this post, I already feel a little shaken up at the thought of dropping him to school tomorrow.

As we enter the last leg of this challenge, I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading some snippets of my experiences related to school admissions until now. I will be back with my most personalized post in this series tomorrow. You can read all the previous posts here

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An Ex-Banker turned Blogger/Writer/Solopreneur. Any qualifications? A Postgraduate degree in Chemistry followed by Post Graduate Diploma in Management. I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots to what I do presently. Have I done any real work? If two years in Market Research and six years in Banking (three different Banks though) as Branch Head can be considered as real work. Where do I live? After a nomadic sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Food, travel, books and my three and half-year-old toddler son What is this blog about? Sonia's musings is an attempt to channelize emotions through words and pictures hoping they touch a chord with my visitors.

39 thoughts on “S for Settling Down”

  1. Hang in there, Sonia. My elder daughter cried for a whole month before settling down. The younger one would go off peacefully, but would cry there. She too settled down. You will need all your patience and marketing skills for this one.
    Tuneer looks so happy after coming back! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart goes to that little champ. My kiddo started pre school last year too. He cried for exactly 3 days and then suddenly settled down. But the real challenge came in August. He met an accident after the summer vacation and suddenly got a phobia of walking, running. He refused to walk and go to school. He stopped interacting with peers and I had to drag him to school every day. After much counselling and sweet talk, he was able to overcome it in October. I had two months of nightmares but thankfully we overcame it.

    I can understand the pain you got. It was so hard for the parents and the kids to adjust to that new reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My son took two years to settle in his first school. And the best thing is that we have been moving every two to three years. In fact even as a teen he finds it hard to settle down soon. So, I do see your boy as very brave! And I loved it when you said that it felt as if someone had already informed the school. Ha ha… I can almost visualise the look on your face!

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  4. After reading about Tuneer I can say he is a very sweet boy but he has his own conditions sometimes. Don’t worry. It happens to every single child but the difference is that every child reacts differently. He will settle down very soon. Believe me.

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  5. A big hug to you for managing this all alone Sonia. I know there’s someone or the other from the family around always, but to be a part of a constant role play of a circus with a 4 year old is no joke. My empathy and best wishes. haha!

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  6. Your post reminded me of my own experience with my younger one and I know how difficult it is. She gave me hard time in preschool too. She was fine after later so don’t worry. .Tuneer will be fine. 🙂

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  7. The struggle to get my son to settle in playschool was so real! He is slated to join big school in July this year, so we re-enrolled him in his playschool (which he had finally settled into), for the month of April. It’s a new year and new class teacher, and despite his familiarity with the playschool, he cries everyday because he wants his old teacher back! I’m dreading July, but happy to know there are others in a similar boat.

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  8. I remember when my son was going to play, I myself was crying with him. And he being an introvert was so challenging.
    and eventually I have felt settling is an alien concept. I see myself jumping into so many options. We are filled with ideas of growth

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  9. You know this reminds me of a story that my father regales me with every now and then. It is not related to my daughter but to the time when I was in kindergarten. I was first admitted into a school called Mani’s Preparatory School. And after a day or two, the teacher started teaching us counting. Those days kids used to write on a slate with a piece of chalk. The teacher started with the numeral 1. But looks like I had figured out 0 before that somehow. And after the teacher had taught us from 1 to 9 she told us to write the numerals on our slates by ourselves. And what transpired was the I filled the slate with huge 0’s and no amount of cajoling by the teacher would make me write the numerals she had taught us. Well, the teacher turned out to be a person with a good sense of humour and told my father laughingly that you have brought up your son very leniently and it is now time to tighten the screws a bit. My father even now at the age of 85, regales us with this story at family gatherings and is quite proud of me for exhibiting this kind of lawlessness.

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  10. Why does the child cry? Has the reason been explored? Does he feel bad, isolated or intimidated? Or is it for pure fun of it? The issue of steady job vs. settling is an eternal debate. Corporate job with stringent process driven approach may not be suitable for everyone. Only one day a month, one may feel happy. This is the day one gets pay cheque. Rest of the time it is same old rut. But we all make our decision to be part of the system. While freelancing and creative pursuit have their romanticism, unless one makes enough money life may become difficult. I guess one has to make a plan and decide to quit at a certain point in career.

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  11. hehe unsettled. I had a good laugh as you narrated the tale especially about Tuneer and his wailing episodes and then your husband’s quips are hilarious. Come to think of it, settling down was important when I was growing up as well. But yes academics were important and like you I did post graduation and worked a couple of years before I thought of marriage. From brand management to writing, it has been an interesting journey and definitely an ‘unsettled’ one. I guess, one does never really settle down but just grows and evolves every single day. I liked this post around a very serious topic which was very relatable and yet funny.

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  12. Sonia, I love your attitude. No matter how tough a situation, you manahe to lace with it a sense of humor. I can imagine what you must be going through with Tuneers tears. Hang in there, I am told these tears just stop abruptly and children start enjoying school! Mr T is hilarious (even though at that point of time you may not think so!)

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  13. This is just to let you know.. it will all get sorted sooner than you would realize and it is pretty natural of them to behave that way. We went through similar situations with my 6-year-old and it improved every day… In the first year of his school his attendance was just 33 percent but the second year it rose to 70 and now he gets ready enthusiastically to attend school every day…

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  14. The struggle is real and I loved his photo before the long weekend break he was going to get, haha cute kiddo. I also enjoyed reading your adventurous journey of career choices and eventually landing up as an excellent writer, Sr.T is right Creative people are never satisfied 🙂

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  15. This is humorous yet a powerful story. Settling down is obviously a challenge for our current generation and there will be always a gap in understanding this by the older generation. I hope Tuneer settles down soon. His pictures this time were so funny. I had a smile on my face while reading the post.

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  16. Settling down…even I have lived like a nomad for a decade, moving from city to city either for studies or job. Post marriage, me and my husband lived in different cities for one year before I decided it was time to switch my job else we will live apart forever! Your experience is somewhat similar to mine. Though sequence might be different.
    Anyways, Tuneer will settle down eventually. I liked all the pics of Tuneer that you have posted. He sure is a very smart kid and understands your psyche, maybe that is why he is crying so that you pay more attention to him!

    Read my R post here – Reading and Other Hobbies
    Read my S post here – SHE

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  17. Its an emotional moment for the parents also and I can understand where are you coming from, Sonia. I was prepared to sit outside M&M’s school when they started last year (Oh, while typing this, I realized it has been a year already) but to my surprise, they adjusted well from the day one. Tuneer is a wise bacha, and im pretty sure he will adjust and settle well soon. Tight hugs to you, you are doing a great job!

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