There’s an assortment of toys lying at various corners of my apartment. From soft toys to remote-controlled gadgets suitable for his age group, the soon to turn three-year-old cherishes every single purchase. Until a certain point, his favorite play items were pieces of paper, empty cartons, and discarded boxes. His next favorite became the huge collection of soft toys that were mostly accumulated as gifts. But the preferences shifted at every phase of growing up.
However, if there’s any toy set that has maintained the consistency of being his favorite for a year now, it will have to the plastic kitchen set meant for kids in the age group of 2 – 5 years. Other than the fact that we get to eat some delicious items cooked by him, this set also has a high sentimental value for him. It was gifted to my son on his second birthday by our cook who saved up money so that she could give him a gift.
Today is India’s 72nd Independence Day. Decades back, there were ample opportunities to move out and make a more developed country my home. But I chose to stay back for reasons close to my heart. Despite the number of years, it pains to see that my motherland is still shackled by quite a few regressive thoughts and practices. My son and his kitchen set are not mere toys in our household. They stand for our thoughts in trying to bring a change in the tiniest of ways, It is our way to break the taboo associated with gender stereotyping or casteism.
This Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the alarm bell again. I had forgotten to turn it off over the weekend. It was only 7 am which meant I still had the luxury of sleeping for another hour. My normal working hours begin post-mid-night after my toddler goes to bed and stretches till wee hours of the morning which makes me grab every extra minute in the morning to catch up on my sleep. While locking the mobile, I realized that there was a missed call icon. With trembling fingers, I dialed one of the two most important persons in my household and soon my worst fears came true. My cook had stretched her leave without permission to one more day. This was going to be the fourth consecutive day of her playing truant. I shuddered at the thought of the other important person planning her leave in the same sequence next week. My maid was a huge believer in the tit-for-tat theory and together these two could give me a cardiac arrest any time soon.
I got out of the bed worried about the distressing day. The tornado aka my toddler was turning out to be quite a night owl like both his parents and had maintained his record of staying up till 12 30am last night. So I knew he was going to wake up a little late today. As I was preparing to share the shocking news to my husband, it was a surprise to see him come towards me with outstretched hands. I was wondering if India has won the England test (that’s the only thing he seems to be worried about these days). Instead, he greeted me with a smile and “Happy friendship day”. We have been friends for over two decades now including the years of dating and seven years of being officially married. Of course with time, our conversations have started including grocery lists, our toddlers’ antics and many other typical Indian household topics. Yet I rush to him at the slightest of positive ideas and difficulties till date. I hugged him as another bright idea dawned on me for handling the situation today. “Let’s celebrate our friendship by ordering lunch from 6, Ballygunje Place today.” I could feel the frustrated sigh coming out of his soul which I conveniently chose to ignore.
I was sipping my morning tea when the mobile kept beeping because of the multiple friendship day messages that kept getting delivered. More than 90 percent were forwards that kept getting recycled again in various watsapp groups. I checked my inbox to see if the two people I consider my closest friends had bothered to send a wish. Honestly I knew that none of us really cared for such formalities since our friendship went beyond years. AT and RK live in two different parts of the world now – London and Sydney respectively. I have met them at different phases of life yet our friendships have managed to survive changing times, countries and situations.
Last Tuesday we began a new journey of life with our two and half-year old toddler joining preschool. It was the day of induction where the parents and the children were briefed about the set expectations from the Montessori method of teaching at the preschool. It was heartwarming to see the compassion with which the teachers and the principal dealt with the toddlers. The youngest in the class was a cute 1.9 yrs old girl and the eldest a 3 yrs old boy. The interaction was made interesting with a lot of games and some chocolates. We went back satisfied with the assurance we felt while talking to the teachers. Little did we know that this was the beginning of a roller-coaster ride on emotions.
Day 1– There was no difficulty in getting him to school. There it began with one kid crying when everyone decided to follow suit. For my son, this was the first time that he was staying in an environment without a single family member. While he went inside without much fuss, I came to know later that he had not left his class teacher alone even for a second. After the stipulated forty minutes, he came out crying.
Day 2– It was a bit of struggle to get him ready for school. He kept refusing to dress up. Nevertheless we kept trying to get him excited about the games that he would get to play with his friends in school. There were numerous moments of meltdown. The preschool has a fantastic approach of taking the students inside the premises. They hardly allow any time for goodbyes. Yet again he came out crying after the stipulated duration. We were told that he had played a little with the ball but mostly had been clinging onto his class teacher.
Last week, my husband and I decided to check out the feasible and available options for preschools in our locality. Our son turns 2.5 yrs this March end, so we had been contemplating to send him to a preschool April onwards. I had the list of schools ready and called on their registered numbers to seek an appointment. Before taking a decision, we were keen on meeting the centre in charge and also check the available facilities. What was supposed to be a two to three hours activity for the shortlisted four preschools ended up being a five hour exhausting interaction for us. The results of visit varied from were amusing to shocking barring one which had the most practical and balanced view on what preschool should be. Let me state an example of each.