T for (Not A) Talkative Tuneer

For as long as I can remember, I have been a talkative child. Not that anything much has changed over the years. If one happens to spot me in a group, the one speaking with the most animated expressions would always be me. Whenever Ma went for a parents-teachers meeting, there would always be one ‘not so pleasant’ comment about my desire to speak to everyone in every class. The return trip back home would see an angry Ma demanding to know how is it that I always had something to talk about, even in places where silence was the norm. My mother-in-law had once told me how the Banerjee clan was amused by this new daughter-in-law after watching our wedding video. I was found to talk to everyone despite the photographer’s voice in the unedited version asking me to please act coy or at least keep quiet.

Truth be told, I can still speak about anything under the sky. And I must credit my equally vocal Dad for passing on his garrulous genes to me. With time, I had learned to use this trait as an advantage by mentioning communication as my strength on the resume or in the interviews. And the places where this became my USP were my marketing classes in B-school and then, my Banking job that involved speaking to every potential client before pitching him a product.

Sr. T was no different as a child. He was often found talking about cricket and football with his friends in class. With time and getting into a profession that demanded a lot of restraint in his nature, he has turned out to be a man of very few words. But his personality undergoes a complete transition the moment he finds himself in the company of his friends. Suddenly his voice is often found to drown every other sound. My mother-in-law credits the Banerjee clan’s genes for this nature. She says that my father-in-law, who is quite reserved in nature is found in a different avatar amidst his friends and with his grandson.

The general expression at home
The general expression at home

With such a legacy behind him, it was but natural that the boy was expected to be talkative. Tuneer didn’t disappoint and started speaking in broken sentences much earlier than his peers. The house had started buzzing with his gibberish. Just before he started preschool, we were quite confident about the kid turning out to be an outgoing preschooler. Like I said in my previous post, first the tears refused to stop and next, the next feedback came from his class teacher. He didn’t open his mouth for anything except eating those tasty snacks served by the school. While I was happy about having priorities right about food, the part about not communicating was worrisome.

After a while, as he grew a little comfortable with his friends and teachers, he chose to speak as per his whims. But the voice was too low to be even heard by someone sitting beside him. What was really surprising was that the boy had a change of personality the moment he entered the house. The voice became louder and the tears were replaced by a sparkle in the eyes as he planned his next destructive move. We tried to help him socialize by arranging for play dates with his peer group. He refused to play with his friends and speak to their parents as well. The voice became shy and soft while he held on to his father demanding to be taken back home.

This became an issue the moment we started preparing him for the school admission interviews. His class teacher would often share her despair over his capability to grasp new things yet not utter a word about it when asked. The same family who had been protective of the soft-spoken nature of this boy were suddenly worried about his performance in the interviews.

‘What if he doesn’t open his mouth?’

“What if the interviewer can’t hear him?’

‘What if he starts crying on the spot?’

I actually wanted to tell them to find the solution since they were the ones telling me to stop worrying so much. Life was suddenly all about finding a survival strategy through these ‘what-ifs’.

I had no option but to start training him at home as well. The emotions ranged from scolding, threatening to take away his favorite chocolate to pleading with him to please let his voice be heard. I remember Ma requesting me to please keep quiet in classes after every parents-teachers meeting while in my case, the irony was that I had to cajole the boy to talk in front of others. I was also keeping a tab on the progress at school. He had finally started giving half-hearted answers By the time the first interview happened, I had already developed an anxiety disorder. My nightmares began with Tuneer not answering any question in the interview, despite knowing them all.

Food is love
Food is love

For the first interview, we had no idea what to expect. I had retorted to shuttling between praying to God and convincing the boy to speak. His father sat unfazed. since he already had a backup plan was to admit the boy in a school at his rural place of posting. On the day of the interview, the boy had almost decided to stay quiet. The moment we entered the cabin of the Principal, the interviewer tried holding Tuneer’s hand to lead him to the table where he was to be seated. The kid refused to let go of his father while saying ‘Jabo na’ (I will not go). I wanted to smack both of them at that moment.

It was only after the Principal offered him two mango bite toffees that he finally agreed to sit with the interviewer though at the same table with us. For the next 10 mins, he was asked multiple questions. The first two answers felt like Tuneer was mumbling to himself with eyes fixed on the bowl of chocolates. It was only after the teacher gave him two more toffees that he decided to answer all the questions except for his mother’s name. The expression on his face looked like that of boredom.

Very soon we understood that the only way to make him speak was through food and chocolates. Luckily, the remaining three schools had offered chocolates during the interviews which meant Tuneer opened his mouth to speak and then later to savor them. Also, the decibel of his voice depended on the kind of chocolate. For eclairs, it was just audible. For a Perk or KitKat, it was clearly audible. In the last round of interview of his current school, the boy stood at the door wishing good morning thrice to the Principal. His voice became louder with every wish the moment he managed to spot his favorite dairy milk on the table.

The generally muted expression reserved for school, even on the day he has games
The generally muted expression reserved for school, even on the day he has games period

In one of my posts, I had spoken about how interviews had turned out to be more about gastronomic adventures post completion of the process. Tuneer had learned to equate the two. So the moment we came out of the school, he would turn to me and ask if we were taking him to a restaurant serving French fries or sweet corn soup. And we had no option because he was the Boss baby at that moment.

The day we finally got his admission done, Sr. T had expressed relief at finally getting done with these tiring experiences. To our surprise, the boy was on the verge of tears as he blurted out, “I like giving interviews. The schools give tasty chocolates and then you take me to eat my favorite things. I want to go for more interviews. I don’t want to study in any school.” It took us weeks to pacify him about the closure of interviews followed by the beginning of school.

He is still not happy about going to school and we are having meltdowns every morning these days. He keeps asking about when the interviews are expected to start again. He has gone back to being an introvert who hardly opens his mouth in class except when it is time to eat his tiffin. But the moment he enters the house, he is back at making me pull my hairs out with his 5Ws and 1H kind of questions (What, When, Where, Who, Whom, How). How I wish I knew how to shut the boy at home and make him speak in class!

I hope you had a good time reading this post. I will be back with a fresh post on ‘U’ tomorrow. You can read the previous posts in this series here.

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.

33 thoughts on “T for (Not A) Talkative Tuneer”

  1. I remember when I first went to school, I didn’t know how to behave. Being a talkative kid at home, I was expected to be the same at the school. But I had cried my lungs out and didn’t speak to anyone when I just got admitted in the school. The “Jabo Na” comment was too hilarious. Lovely post. Tuneer loves so cute in all the pics. Lots of love for the little one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haye Ram! I do feel your pain sister! But this is making me fall for little Tuneer and his adrorable ways! Once he finds a few friends at school, he will settle down. I loved how he wants only interviews and not school! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is as clear as the day that Tuneer is an intelligent child who is developing a personality of hos own. He is observant , and knows his mind. Thing is, that is what seems to be exasperating you and others. Wait out this phase, that is all you can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha your son reminds me of myself – I’d have report cards in primary school that recommended “I talk more”. I am sure your little one will figure things out for himself, very soon. Very relatable and well-written post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. haha, the decibel of voice depends on the type of chocolate, such sweet guy. kids especially boys have this tendency to be a shy guy in school but vents out and talks a lot at home, even my kiddo is same, I was surprised when his teacher told he never speaks or talks to other kids and then I had to daily visit the school to help him make friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha ha ha! The best part is this For eclairs it was just audible and for perk and kit kat it was clearly audible. I think this observant boy understood the tricks If I will refuse to speak then I will get more.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hahaha! Only interviews! 😀
    Well, I had my moods. I could be really talkative at one moment, and then the very next, I’d feel like smacking people if they asked me to speak. I still am very much like that, I suppose.

    Find my T post @ 10 Interesting Truths About Bloggers

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Same pinch, Sonia..I can talk about anything under the sun… 🙂 but my son is quiet outside too… I thought it might change with time – but it hasn’t…I think it is just their personality for the time being…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I find it so sad that schools want to ‘interview’ 3 year olds! Thankfully Delhi schools stressed more on observing the children in activity rooms than on their ability to answer questions. I can totally identify with your son being so voluble at home, and so quiet at school- mine is like that too. If you ever find a solution, do share it with me!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. my mom also tells me a story, when I kept quite and looking at the chocolate lolly pop bowl on the teachers desk during interview. I didn’t answer any question even when I knew the answers. kids can put parents thru any and every tricky situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Enjoyed reading it with the touches of humor, hopefully one day your gene will be activated in him, its in latent state inside him. I can deeply relate with Tuneer coz my nature exactly was the same and even now not changed much.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your Tuneer is just like my Gautam. He is a chatterbox at home, speaking incessantly but a huge introvert who hardly ever speaks whether at school or outdoor. I have tried a lot to make him open up. I am making him participate in more activities in school and he has done those. Yet he continues to be painfully quiet when outside.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. At least in your kid you know how to induce him to do things. In many cases parents have no clue. Kids simply say I am not going. No amount of screaming, cajoling, pleading works. It is a tough job, going inside mind of kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My daughter is always shy with strangers but the minute she gets to know them well she can’t stop talking to them. This happened when she met my organization’s MD who had come down from Australia and I was in a bit of a panic lest my daughter repeat some of the comments I had made about my MD at home which were not so flattering. I too am extremely chatty and talk nineteen to the dozen, but my wife is of a quieter disposition and so mostly it is myself and my daughter who are constantly talking to each other at home and my wife plays the role of observer.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Chocolates and french fries are good motivators for kids…. must say. It is, however, awful of schools to expect kids this age to speak and interact confidently. A lot of kids take time to get comfortable to talk. Enjoyed reading…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Loved reading all the incidents. I must say that the boy knows how to get his work done and more so he knows how to relate food with voice. He is doing well, don’t worry.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. When you were narrating the talkative you, I was visualizing my daughter with it. She is the most talkative girl in her school I believe and can talk about anything under the sun. Every PTM, I come back red-faced with a pledge to give her my piece of mind. But, it all fazes out when next morning she climbs in the bus.
    Tuneer is a beautiful kid, and toffees wow! Wish I get such treats too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Srishti. This is the second time I have been nominated for the award and coincidentally by both you and Rashmi together. I will put up the second post related to it after finishing the A2Z challenge. Much appreciated


  18. You have explained Mother’s Dilemma quite well! I can understand the cause of concern but I think you should not worry much, its a phase in his life – it will pass. The first pic you posted of Tuneer- he is seen playing with calculators – a sign of genius child! Once he is used to schools and starts making more friends, he will open up at school as well.
    He loved interviews for chocolates – that is a cute incident that you have narrated.
    Also glad that you have such a sweet mother in law who sees you for what you are and not what is expected of typical ‘Bahu’!
    Read my T post here –
    Three Two One…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I really enjoyed reading this, Sonia. You managed to deal with a serious topic with a light touch without in any way trivializing it. I could feel your anxiety and frustration and well as feeling sympathy for Tuneer. And then, after the interviews, I laughed in relief at his declaration that he liked interviews and would prefer to keep doing them than going to school!
    Sorry I’ve come so belatedly to your blog; but now I know to return, so I hope you will keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is just like me and my daughter, Sonia. I was the talkative one in class, in fact my teacher called me ‘Nani’ since I kept doling out gyaan to everyone around me. My daughter is another category. She just doesn’t talk when she doesn’t want to. Even during oral exams in school the girl makes a face and doesn’t say a single poem. Imagine how much her teacher complains to me. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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