04-Jul-2013

An Education




Nothing has made me feel more Mommy-like than the hunt for Bobo’s preschool.

Yes, you heard it right. He is not yet 7 months and we are already hunting for a preschool for him to join when he is around eighteen months.

Infact, the hunt for a pre-school began when he was around five months old. I had not the foggiest idea of what happened in a pre-school but I figured that as Bobo got older, he won’t be happy in the sole company of our very sweet and very friendly helper. We would have to send him some place with lots of kids and play things sooner than later.

After half a night of googling (we are talking about sacrificing sleep here. Precious, precious sleep), I came up with a list of schools I wanted to check out.

Then I promptly got involved in other things and shelved the whole project.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I got back onto the project again. With more than a year to go before I had to admit Bobo to a school, it was not like a month was going to make a difference.

I called up Pat’s Schoolhouse to schedule a visit, feeling very grown up. Pat’s is a fairly popular preschool located right outside our condo. Perfect place.

I spoke to them and figured out that Pat’s did not take kids till the year they turned three.

I realized that Bobo could go in Jan 2015, not July – August 2014 as I had hoped.

Oh well.

It was a tad too early to do a visit but we had to get started somewhere, didn’t we?

“Can you let me know when I can visit” I said in my grown up, serious, I-mean-business parent voice (newly developed for this search)

The reply came “There is no point scheduling a visit now. We will put you down on our waitlist and call you later”

“Sure” Grown-up me continuing. I gave her Bobo’s details, then casually asked “So what number are we on the waitlist”

“Seventy”

What!?!! I thought I had heard it wrong but infact we were 70.

I had heard rumours that you registered for a school as soon as your kid was born.

I think it must be as soon as you found out you were expecting.

Actually it must be as soon as you start planning to have a baby.

I hung up and picked my jaw off the floor.

I called D in a panic and informed him that we had to do something now or else Bobo would end up being home schooled, going to a B-grade college and living off us for the rest of our lives (whereas the plan is we educate him well, he cracks Harvard, makes pots of money and we retire early)

That very evening, I updated my school list. The next morning I had made an appointment with another school in the neighbourhood that was a short taxi ride away.

Atleast we had gotten a visit, whether we got admission or not was another matter.

On D-Day, we dropped in on the way to work. We were armed with a list of questions. I had dressed up in some of my better office clothes and glared at D who was wearing his jeans (his current workplace is rather laissez faire when it comes to clothes). We were bloody well going to impress them into giving us a place.

The teacher took us around the place pointing out the play area, different class sections, the kitchen, the toilet, the music room and so on. It was a large enclosed space, brightly lit, neatly maintained and divided into sections where kids from ages 18 months to 6 years sat in groups according to their age.

The group of kids from 18 months to 24 months had just arrived in school and it was a noisy scene. Three of the kids were crying. The two teachers were consoling one kid each, leaving the third one to sniffle around morosely by himself. The non-crying kids were wandering around their area generally amusing themselves. One peacemaker was patting a crying kid and handing out a box of tissues.

I was beginning to have a mild headache with the chorus of noise and now I know that I greatly admire people who spend their day with so many kids and stay sane.

Yes, I love my own kid but I don’t think I would be able to handle a cohort day in and day out.

D looked quite upset with all the crying. Later he remarked that we really should not send Bobo to a school. It would be just too heartbreaking. I pointed out that we were anyway going to leave him at home and be in office the whole day.

“But he could atleast stay with our helper” D said

“Who will home school him? To be a nurse in Philippines” I pointed out. (Our helper was a nurse in Philippines in her former avatar)

“What is wrong with being a nurse? Are you saying boys can’t become nurses?” D challenged

“No. I am saying I would like any child of mine to be a little more ambitious to begin with atleast”

Anyway, that is a different story and I think D may be ready to cut the apron strings by the time Bobo is eighteen months old and bouncing off the walls when we come home tired and weary.

At the centre itself, they assured us that Bobo would get a place and we could wait till later this year to get moving on the admission if we wanted to. They took down our details. The teacher kept referring to me as ‘Mommy’ and I was feeling rather proud. (Of course if that is what people called me all day long, I would probably go mad. But once in a while, it feels very special)

The first visit over, I now have a better sense of the preschool landscape. At one end are the highly subsidized ones which are next to impossible to get into and cater largely to the locals. At the other end are the ones that follow an international school curriculum (not at 18 months of course. Mostly as they grow slightly older) and cater largely to the expats. Then you have schools like Pat’s which cater to an upper middle-class local population and to expats. Pat’s would be great if it worked out since it is at walking distance but I think we should be ok with anything within an easy distance

We liked the school we visited but not enough to go ahead with it. We are going to check out a few more schools in the coming days.

Then there is other part of me which seems to be flashbacking to me as a child, writing admission tests (and I wrote a lot of them thanks to my father’s transferrable job). A part of me that remembers the story my mom told me about my own admission to Class 1 where I apparently impressed everyone with a brilliant performance. Suddenly I am beginning to see a fuller picture of my childhood. It is not just me writing those admission tests. The picture now includes my parents anxiously trying to figure out which schools were good, queuing up for admission, watching while we settled in, made friends and figured out the system. I bet that was not much fun.

It is funny how time flies and the cycle starts again. 

3 comments:

Priyanthi said...

Seventy! Already? The prospect of having kids gets scarier and scarier. On the other hand, there is the plan - kid cracks Harvard, makes pots of money, we retire. Hmmmm.......

Rohini said...

Ha. This takes me back. Put major fight to get my first-born in the 'top preschool' in our area. Thought it was totally over-rated - both the school itself and the idea that kids need to go to school at that age.

With second-born, I literally only looked at places within 5 minutes driving distance and then put her in the first one that confirmed.

My initial plan was to have her go straight to Nursery since I didn't really feel pre-school was necessary and I was at home with her. So I finally sent her just for three months to get used to the idea of going away in a more intimate setting before she joined Nursery at a full-scale school.

Anita said...

Priyanthi - you win some you lose some :)

Rohini - it is a tricky trade off - distance vs new mom's drive for perfection. But think distance will win