We were guided into a teeny room furnished with teeny, colorful tables and chairs. The walls were covered paintings, and a string of colorful cutouts ran across the center of the room. The shelves were arranged with picture books and workbooks. A blackboard at the corner bore today's date, and a few alphabets. A thin wall separated this room from the next one, where all the play group kids were having their hour-long session. We heard lots of screaming from all directions. Many of the children cried for their mothers, while teachers made futile attempts at distracting them with toys and songs. Few of us let out sighs of relief, because we hadn't yet heard our children crying. I wasn't apprehensive in the least bit, because I knew that if Adiv was upset he'd be screaming now. I smiled sweetly at an aayah who walked past. When she walked past again, I asked if she'd peek in and check on Adiv.
"He is playing with a car", she said when she returned.
"You are lucky he is okay", came a voice from the room I was in. A mother who could hear her son weeping piteously, came forward for assurances from me.
"They'll be fine in a few days, right", she asked. She seemed close to tears, but was holding on. "They will be fine", I assured her. "The teacher is very good." Another mother walked out. "I can't listen to this anymore", she said and settled down outside the gate.
"Why don't you mothers leave and return after an hour", offered the center head gently. "You won't feel so terrible if you are away."
"No", came a collective response.
I stood around with my book. I muttered a small prayer. I hoped Adiv would continue to enjoy school. I'd put him in a dinosaur teeshirt, that he wanted to show his teacher. I had also explained to him that I'd be waiting outside.
"No. Mimi come inside", he had said emphatically.
"No I can't. The chairs in your class are small. I'll wait outside on a bigger chair".
That seemed to satisfy him. He went in with a smile, but ran out twice crying for me.
"I'm still waiting here", I assured him. "I'll still be here when you're done playing", I explained while he cried.
Five minutes later, he'd settled down. Meanwhile I sent Ro several SMSes with updates.
"No crying anymore."
"Playing with a car"
Meanwhile, the mothers and I bonded outside. We spoke about our kids, and comforted eachother. "They'll be fine. Once they make friends, they'll begin enjoying themselves."
Amidst all the crying, we heard some singing. I was glad the teachers were singing. Adiv loved music and he was sure to calm down.
"Your son is calm. He is playing", said a mother who'd decided to peek in on her child.
"Phew", I said. "What about your daughter?"
"She is still crying", she said.
Minutes later, two of the mothers were called in. Their kids who were crying uncontrollably had thrown up. The rest of us mothers watched the flurry of activity from the classroom to the bathroom and back. I said another little prayer.
"Oh God, please let Adiv be okay."
As the longest hour finally came to an end, the kids slowly walked out with their bags.
"Hi there", I said enthusiastically to Adiv, who responded with a big smile.
"Oh Ho, jacket inside", he said and went back to get his denim jacket. Waving goodbyes to everyone we then left.
Now i'm getting ready for another day.
Amicus: The Myth of the Neutral Expert
19 hours ago