Thursday, April 3, 2008

These last few days of school...

[Written by Tharini of Winkie's Way.]

Hi Everyone...

I am woefully late in my submission for last month's theme of 'Which School?'. However, I take it as a positive sign that since this month's theme is yet to be revealed, I still have the chance to post our little story of school. It also happens to be Winkie's last month at this school before we head off for India and subsequently kindergarten in the public school system. So a little write up about that to express my sentiments...

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April 3rd already. And this is the last month that Winkie will be attending school with Uma. The very thought of it heightens all my sentiments surrounding the institution that my son has been a part of for the past 2 years.

Its been a journey of many colours. A shy Winkie blossomed into a more assertive young fellow. A partially potty trained 2 and 1/2 year old, came to grips with complete body control. An illiterate little fledgling entered the unlimited realm of words and reading. A 4 year old with no sense of time and minutes, began to read the clock and now dictates terms to us. A little recluse of a child is now the center of all the attention and the little dictator of his playmates. He even has a best friend! A fussy and highly dependant eater discovered the deliverance in wielding his own spoon and appreciating the health factor better. Someone of very limited vocabulary found the joy in expression and can say to me now...I don't think that makes any sense, Amma. In the process he also left behind his mother tongue, but this post is a focus on positives, for the time being. :)

2 years. 360 degree changes. But 100% satisfaction in the experience and journey of it all.

I can still remember clearly that time when I first contacted Uma. I had seen her ad in the Indian store and tore off that little chit of paper containing her number. That first conversation itself left me with so much of energy and clear hearted vibes that when I think back, I find it rather amazing. Winkie was around 20 months at the time and I was looking for a part-time baby sitting option. He was still not potty trained however, and couldn't join her school right away, as a result. There was a feeling of disappointment, mingled with a sense of excitement that I had come across such an amazing individual. She explained, so very patiently, the beauty of a Montessori system and all that it could nurture in a child that young. I was completely entranced. When I hung up some 20 minutes later, I very carefully added her number to my phonebook and resolved to potty train him soon, and get back in touch with her.

That happened some 6 months later in November of 2004, just before I was to leave for India with Winkie. Preschool admissions would be closed by the time we got back and I wanted to enrol him in something before we left. I cursorily listed down the names and numbers of some of the local Montessoris in the area, but the first person I called was Uma. Winkie was about 60% potty trained and I was confident we'd accomplish it full scale during the India trip. Speaking to her again was like a breath of fresh air and we made an appointment to go see her right that very evening. She runs her school from the basement of her home, so the setting is very cosy and not very intimidating. This, I thought was important to ease my reserved little Winkie in.

We liked the school, we liked Uma even more in person, and we liked her family. It was complete comfort right from the start and that is how it has always been. At the back of my mind, I wondered whether Winkie would need more exposure to the American kids and a bigger place and such, but all that got overruled and I settled for a great teacher in a simple setting instead. My father is a teacher. And I know, firsthand, what a difference it makes to be under the tutelage of someone who lives and breathes his work. I have seen the transformations that a kind but firm and loving hand can effect in the most hopeless of cases. And what my father has been to a countless many of his students, Uma has been for my son. The first person to hold his quivering hands and lead him out into the sunlight.

She has been more than a teacher. She has been his biggest well-wisher. She has understood his nature thoroughly and discovered the right means to nurture it. And in the process she has taught me as well, his mother, his carrier and birth-giver, how to nurture him too. What more can I ask for from my son's first alma mater? She has taken care of his initial major potty accidents with a cool cheerfulness. She has fed him his lunches when he had trouble doing it efficiently himself. She has given him time outs when things got out of hand, and he never repeated them again. She has gotten annoyed with him when he couldn't seem to progress beyond a certain point of learning, and that was the annoyance that came from the emotional investment she had in her young charge. She has delighted unabashedly, and with a grin stretching from ear to ear when he first began reading, and every time he excels himself. My pride in him is still a muted one in comparison to her very evident thrill at his accomplishments.

There are a great many words that come to mind to describe what Uma means to us as parents. But somewhere along the way, in the 2 years of dropping him at 9:00 AM and picking him up at 1:00 PM, in all those 10, sometimes 15min and sometimes 1/2 hour or more of naturally flowing conversation, we became friends as well. And I cannot think of a happier situation than finding a friend in the heart of your child's teacher. The doors of possibilities this opens up to how you can, together, mould your child, is very exciting. It is a process in which education flows unhindered, from home to school and school to home, until it begins to draw out the best that lies as a latent promise in your child.

Is it any wonder then that I would feel so sentimental about the last 30 days of his time there? The clock that he learnt to read is now ticking in a different way and each stroke brings us closer to the point of farewell. It brings us speedily to the day when I will probably host a farewell lunch for all his schoolmates, and click many pictures in different poses with all of them and his teacher. It will be the day of the last chance for recording things for posterity, before we leave this cosy fold of simple beginnings, and be swept away in the maelstrom of huge change. This last month feels like the exact point of quiet calm, just before Marlin and Dory got sucked into the dizzying joyride of the East Australian Current on their quest for Nemo. That little quiet time before we are also carried away in a sea of change...of people, of places and situations.

Winkie, for his part, remains blissfully oblivious of it all. His concept of time has precluded his notion of these last 30 days. Well, never mind that, for I have enough sentiment for the both of us. A lot of exciting times loom up ahead, but right now the heart wants to just rest a little in the gentleness of the past. Reading old school posts, reliving their memories, and relishing what's left of them henceforth. I am not sad about any of it...but just a little sentimental, as I marvel at the cosmic delusion of time...

3 comments:

bird's eye view said...

Beautifully written and you're so right in choosing the teacher and the homey environment over more sophisticated options. We did that for chubbocks and it really helped him blossom. Now luckily we've found the same teacher and he runs his own playschool so we're enrolling Puddi with him as well.

Sandeepa said...

You were so lucky to have found Uma and her school. And all the best to Winkie for his "big" school now.

Angel... said...

What a wonderful post dear..