Tuesday, 23 August 2011


When a well-known playschool opened up a branch close to home, I was most excited. After a year of waiting outside school for two hours every day, I now welcomed the possibility of having three-hours of much needed "alone" time. Fortunately Adiv took to this new school as well. It boasted of a huge play area that had ducks, rabbits, a trampoline, and several bikes and toys. Adiv just couldn't wait to begin, though he wondered about his old teacher and friends from time to time.

Day one was a success. While many kids bawled and vomited, he waltzed in. Though mommies were told they could sit in for three days, Adiv told me I could go sit in the car. "Don't disturb me", he added. So I returned home happily, to spend three hours of "me" time. I'd now be able to read or talk on the phone (without having to answer important questions about the power rangers or Micheal Jackson), watch movies ("Inglorious Bastards" had gathered dust for a year before I finally watched it), and cook. After these three hours I'd go and pick him up. He'd play for a bit, before eventually agreeing to return home, hungry and tired. During lunch we'd talk about his day. For a week or two, when they hadn't done much, I assumed they were merely waiting for the kids to settle down. While those who cried were being carried around, Adiv entertained himself. They didn't sing songs or engage in fun activities. Also, the toys had I'd seen on the shelves during the orientation, seemed to have disappeared. To make matters worse, I overheard the teacher talk to a child who wanted to play outside. "Can't go out," she said. "Too much hot is there." A lot of the parents didn't mind the teacher's language skills, as their kids spoke no English. We were worried, because Adiv spoke only English and we didn't want him picking up any incorrect English in school.
Though I was worried about the teacher's language skills, I decided to give it time. Adiv didn't seem unhappy, and I hoped he'd make friends and have some fun.

After a month, I began realizing that all wasn't well. At first Adiv began saying he didn't want to go to school. After a week, he began screaming and crying when we reached the gate. Both Ro and I would speak to him about what was bothering him, and all he'd say was that he was scared. I wondered if he was scared of the teacher, who seemed to lack warmth. She spoke loudly and often sounded rather harsh. "I'd be scared of her if i was 3", I told Rohit. Nonetheless, we decided to watch. I walked Adiv into his class one day (despite protests from the center head), and found 10 kids sitting around a table, quietly. I was unnerved, as I didn't think three-year-olds needed to sit like stiff zombies. They needed to explore, talk, and touch the toys that lay around them. After leaving him screaming and crying, I'd wait outside till the crying stopped. I knew this was no adjustment issue, as he was alright for so long. I spoke to the center head, trying to understand what the problem was, and she said my friendly, happy child was "unfriendly" and "anti-social"! Annoyed I let her know that if he was being unfriendly he was probably unhappy. She said we should give him time to settle.

Things however got worse when Adiv began talking in his sleep. He was beginning to have nightmares about school. Also his temperament had begun to change. He was throwing frequent tantrums and seemed angry most of the time. He was terrified of his teacher, and he wasn't telling us why. Once they even left him by the gate all by himself, after another child had poured water on him. He stood alone with the watchman, waiting for me to come get him.

He was getting more and more unhappy and I had to find out what the problem was. It was then that I decided to engage in this role play activity with him. I told him I'd be Adiv and he would be aunty. He agreed happily because he has always loved make-believe games.
"Sing a nursery rhyme", he said.
I sang.
Then immediately I felt a rap on my head. "Sing properly", he said authoritatively.

It was then that I discovered that his teacher was hitting him and probably mocking him. Both Ro and I were livid, and we took him off school immediately. We also complained to the director who said she'd look into the problem immediately. Meanwhile we decided we'd home school Adiv for a bit, till he got over his fear of school. Also we didn't want him to dislike school just because of a bad experience here. And as he was only three, we didn't think he needed to put up with this place any more.

This was a month ago, and we now spend two hours every day singing rhymes, painting, learning alphabets and numbers, reading stories, and watching classics like the "Jungle Book"! I may have lost out on some alone time, but I am happier because Adiv is happy. In a couple of months we intend to start him in a new school again, and this time we intend to make sure he feels safe and happy in the environment!