Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Arian Women

Arian women are a handful. Ask my husband. He has a sister, wife, and a daughter belonging to that category. And all of us are April born. When I had the monster, I wanted my birthday to pass before giving birth to her. Of course the due date was in May, so it made sense to not have the baby a month before it was due, but there were other calculations you could do to prove that it would not have been that early after all. You know how much of leeway there is in these due date calculations generally, all bogus, including the ultrasounds.

Anyway we ate Chinese food on my birthday and regretted it immensely, it was that Udipi Chinese, here, locally, sucked royally though all other choices of food in that restaurant are tolerable. I was itching all over, thanks to some weird allergy or whatever I had developed. Especially on my arms and my stomach. It was as much to keep myself from scratching that I needed to go out for dinner as to celebrate the big three-oh. I was so huge that I had to wear these tents that passed off as salwar kameezes. Red and green this tent was.

Back in 1979 when I went to I standard, at this CBSE school where the fees was Rs.69 per annum for almost the duration of my schooling, I was just short of five years in age. I suppose it was March when my parents and I entered the headmaster's room. It had that half swing door. But was dark and cosy. He asked me my name and gave me a chocolate. My parents and the headmaster talked about common friends and so on and he smiled us away. Despite being something like two feet in height, I went to I standard that year with all the other normal people. No one looked askance. Some of my classmates were half a year (or more) older than I, but some were a month or so younger as well. Of course I was nevertheless, clearly the shortest, a proud distinction I tried very hard to hide from every single day during the morning assembly by standing on my toes.

The monster is tall, at least by my standards. She was two feet tall some several years ago already, and has grown consistently on her steady diet of dhal and rice and vegetables. Her long legs and arms are clearly genetically linkable to her father. She has been in kindergarten for nearly two years now. Despite not being pressured immensely (one hears such stories about schools these days), she has learned all she was asked to learn in these two years. They don't sum to much from an adult perspective, but it is enough, it is age appropriate, or perhaps I should say class appropriate.

But then she IS April born. Schools are operating on a March/January deadline (in terms of birth date). In some of the nicer schools I can understand that this is like the GRE (sorry for obscure grad school related reference), a means of weeding out applicants. But all schools these days claim to use modern methods of teaching/learning. Holistic, project-based, activity-oriented, ability-driven methods are proclaimed on web-sites and advertising material. We are apparently this close to the spectacular western education methods now, here, in India, this bulging developing country of ours. But guess what? During admission, absolutely no recognition is to be really given for ability.

I hated that they conducted a long test for my child. I would have been probably not disturbed if they said, forget it you guys, don't be aggressive parents, however smart a child is, we will not take her if she is born in 2004. But after she did the test and they were 'very impressed' when they threw the age thing at us, it was most unnerving. They tried to then give us spiel about how later on she would face problems and inability to match up with the others in the class (right, you are looking in the face at me, I was the same age and half her height and still faced no problems, whether it was in academics or other extra activities). I grant that this might be true, times are different now. And also that many parents may be randomly competitive and aggressive and try to sneak their child in early. Therefore it was doubly unnerving that we should be put in that bucket, because we are not being competitive with others.

We just happen to think that she is ready for I standard, and enough of this kindergarten business. We can clearly see that she needs a bit more challenge, and the exercises of UKG if repeated again, will bore her. We don't want her first year of proper schooling to be boring. We had never taught her writing when she went into LKG. And she was not that fond of colouring due to reasons I think I can identify but could do nothing to shield her from. It was a challenge at first, occasionally frustrating, but soon enough, she was enjoying it, sort of precisely because it was not so easy. We have seen her joy when she comes home and whips out her slate and books and shows us what she did in school (not everyday, some days she is cranky and surly, but most days). We are confident that she can physically handle a longer school day, in fact, the other alternative, where she is in proper school for a short while and then at home with grandparents or in the play-school with small kiddos, is a much less optimal solution. It irritates her, it bores her, it makes her behave in a silly manner at times and in an obsessive manner (regarding some book or the other) at others. Even if I spend the afternoons with her, and try to fit in 'activities' as she calls them, I don't see her liking it too much for too long. She has been doing such things forever now, and clearly different things are called for. I don't believe in drawing classes, but of course could consider music or dancing, which might work, but might not as well. Anyway such are our reasons, as parents, and the people arguably most tuned into our daughter's needs.

As I mentioned in the previous post, she has a VERY STRONG opinion on this. I am sure I can brain wash it out of her system, okay, I am not so sure, the opinion is REALLY strong. So there is that to contend with as well.

Nevertheless, I went in with a semi-open mind. Let them test her (illegal though it might be). Let them tell us their opinion on whether she is ready for the great big challenge of I standard (ha ha). So it was really disturbing to us to visit the schools and have doors shut on us because she is April born, after they tested her and found her capable in terms of knowledge and aptitude. Not to mention having to listen grand old dames tell us that we are stupid parents to have such a desire. At the best of times my husband is not patient when people feed him advice, and on that hot day it is probably by digging into extra reserves of patience he did not react strongly. Of course it annoyed me no end as well, but I have this space, and written words, as my vent.

At any rate we have finally got what we set out for. Without a second thought we have signed her up to learn Tamizh though she has learnt the Hindi letters here in UKG. People have threatened us with, she will forget Hindi (no matter, I can remind her), this will be double challenging, a new language (do think languages are the easiest thing for children to pick up), the Math! (please, go look at the CBSE I standard textbook, its cute and fun, not difficult), etc. We don't stand to lose much except our pride either way. If she handles it all well, then wonderful. If not, in any case, she becomes eligible for I standard at Kendriya Vidyalaya only next year...

It is wonderful to be an Arian. We are a crazy lot, but strong. In a year's time, I will tell you how the two of us do on this one!


Serious Lounger said...

and the brat interview to get into this school was like this - brat is in try with mum and baby bro - so dad (ie moi) lands up at school carrying a file but no brat and voila, the big dude out there says, I lurves people with two kids so come on, the brat is in the school.. BTW the brat and the monster resemble each other in the structure of their limbs, etc.. the seal pup of course looks very much like a ball of fat :D :P..

Babbi said...

udipi chinese?even the idea is scary..

when IS ur budday??

they make standard I sound like a bigger ordeal than IIT or PMT,dont they ? Btw, not just class I, CBSE class 12 book is also cute n fun ! *hint*

kbpm said...

sl - well thank heavens i was not trying in that school in that case. :-)

babbi - well yeah i agree. math anyway rocks except in dusty old russian books that use the word 'lemma'

Parul said...

Ok, I do not speak from experience because my child as you know is still is diapers but may I say that do pay heed to Malcolm Gladwell on the subject of age-related timelines in Outliers?

My word verification here is 'ovary'.

Space Bar said...

yay! more arians!

and you may as well have saved yourself all that trouble, no? why didn't they tell you earlier?!

kbpm said...

parul - well am not thinking high achiever (whatever that implies) or genius or whatever, but just a one off call on I std. vs. UKG!! Ovary, woman, thats a hint.

sb - well yeah. perversity i suppose. Scarlett O'Hara only no?

asaaan said...

So she would in 1st standard or no? I got confused. coz of the daylight saving crap.

I am in the other side of the boar. Neil is Oct born, The cut off here is Dec 2. He will start kinder in Fall as a 4 yr old There will be kids who are already 5, some close to 6. And he is not even big for his age. He is small.
His preschool teacher thinks he will do fine. Nk thinks he will do okay but not I.

Coming back to learning to another language.. I 'm sure she will do great. Plus she has you..

choxbox said...

yay to arian women! have one here too.

btw T (my nephew) is born in may last week, and obviously the youngest in his class as the cut-off date is june 1st. my sis and BIl went through exactly all that you describe. he's going to 6th std next year and is sailing along great.

PG said...

hey kenny - lotsa things seem to be happenning. Good to see ya in action.

1 year sabbatical in chennai? sounds interesting. any plans of a book?

kbpm said...

sraikh- yes she is. & the best part is, since i dont read and write tamizh (yet), i get to learn with her!

chox- there you go!

PG- no no book. slogging away at our alma mater.

wordjunkie said...

Hey, the Imp is an Arian too. Agree, you rams are fun.

Hindi alphabets in UKG!!!!Why!
My word verification is dishrol.. now there's a hint I don't need.