Tuesday, 1 September 2009


In many ways, I would LIKE to be compe-Mommy. You know, the type that aggressively eggs on child, befriends judges, sits up preparing for the child's event the next day, rehearses lines with her at the breakfast table, stuff like that. Well, to be fair, I would not mind rehearsing lines, coming up with appropriate silly poems, writing stuff down for her, researching online to come up with ideas, putting stuff together etc. I, of course, would not be caught dead befriending judges (I have a very strong moral compass and it would not allow me to do such things). And I CANNOT aggressively egg on child. Because, she absolutely HATES it. She does. She is un-egg-on-able. That's the word now.

Three years ago, in the play school she has been in forEVER now (the Mumbai one), they had a small annual day of sorts. They used to learn songs till the cows (or parents) came home back then, and in the function, the teacher told them all to dress nicely in ghagras and sing the songs. My child was all over that one. Of course she knew all the song lyrics to perfection (was spending a lot of time there, obviously!), and was the least bit bothered about all the adults being around. In fact, she started crying at one point of time (she was only 2.5 that time, I suppose its forgiveable, somewhat) when a friend of hers grabbed away the mike. It was most hilarious. And cute, the kids were immensely good (not just mine, all the other chutkus that were there in that boisterous gang), and had NO FEAR. Whatsoever.

Then she went off to KG, and there they made a production of these competitions. I thought it was great fun. Imagine, 10 or 12 competitions, so many prizes to be had in each of them, singing, reciting, beading, story-telling, fancy dress, all cool stuff. They argued that it was just part of their regular school programming - on Fridays pretty much every week, they would have some or the other competition going on. I would sit with the monster and ask her, what about this story, or song. For the English ones, we invariably settled on Karadi Rhymes/Tales stuff; and for the Hindi ones, the play school songs came in quite handy.

As a three year old, she loved to sing and to listen to songs. But somehow that changed. I suppose it could be a disastrous attempt at having her learn music that I mistakenly got into. I was fooled by the fact that she could sing so many songs at my sister-in-law's wedding, all in very pure tamizh, that too. But the teacher was horrid (sorry to say!), the timing was all off, I made the mistake of taking her with another child, her Best Friend, and overall, it was a nightmare. That child's mother and I have been ourselves so traumatised by it that we have not talked about singing lessons at all in the past three years!!

Anyway, that, and these 'competitions' in school. The first one was beading. I bought her a bead set and we had some fun with it. I hate jewelery so it was all for her to use as she pleased. She played with it for about a month, and now its there, somewhere, in the cupboard. The second one was a Hindi song, she did fine. The third was an English song, she had to sing. Since her school is a basic school of sorts, the number of fluent English speakers was very low. I suppose it was REALLY low. Anyway, we had picked the Train Song from Karadi Rhymes, a song she knew for donkey's years (so, not much practice required!). They had a preliminary turn at it in the class, and the teacher just ADORED it - of course, it is a lovely one, I like it too. So then when the final came along, apparently, she did not sing it properly at all. I am convinced that she could not have 'forgotten' the lines, since she really knew them. I am not too sure if it was 'stage fright' (an affliction she recently claimed she suffers from). I personally feel that it was just that she did not like anyone pressurising her (even if it was in a praising manner).

Now it gets worse. The teacher, when I went to pick her up that day, says, Monster, you want to tell mama what you did today? I was sure it was something to do with climbing tables or pulling curtains (famous for such things). But it was this funda with the song. The teacher was disappointed that she did not deliver the promise in front of the Principal etc. I suppose I was disappointed too, somewhat. But then it is hardly okay to say these things to a child, right? (Someone please agree!). Anyway since then it was really like pulling teeth getting her to really prep for any of this stuff.

The worst part of it is, I would have LOVED to go up there and sing 'Chai Chai Coffee Coffee' - would still do it if you asked me. But the kid has stopped enjoying it, in fact at the mention of 'Competition' she scoots. Which brings me to the fact that tomorrow, her school has a competition about writing an essay about their teacher. I know, essay! Five year olds! But then, she is quite capable of doing that, except if someone uses the dreaded word at her. 'Exam' she does not mind, but 'Competition' she severely objects to!! Part of me is wondering I should tell her its an exam. But that sounds cruel. I have told her that she should write something about the teacher she loves so much, and when the teacher reads it, she will feel happy. Not sure it will work. I mean if the loved teacher herself uses the key-word, its game over!!

Thus dashing my hopes of being Compe-Mommy to beat all Compe-Mommies at their own game. Oh well, the things you learn from your children!!


Sue said...

Oh dearie me. Give it some time, maybe she'll get over her block? So long as she's singing, I guess it's not all bad.

And the word verification says SURamet, LOL!

choxbox said...

1. i love chai chai coffee coffee too! and all other karadi rhymes.

2. competition? hmm. i don't like 'em at age<9 or 10. mostly because usually it shifts focus from 'fun' to 'i HAVE to win' or 'i cant WIN so i'm not good enough' or 'who cares'.

dipali said...

This seems so destructive.Bah.
Our happy little Monster getting traumatised by the C-word. Not on:(

kbpm said...

She does still like music. But she does not sing as much. The parent in me wants to do something about it. The sensible human in me wants to leave it the hell alone and life is long and so forth!

Its part of the whole belonging to conventional school deal. Hopefully you dont have to deal with it! I agree with you, but racking my brains how to fix it (or should I just leave it alone?)

Yeah. She is kind of sensitive that way. And I dont do a good enough job of protecting her from outside things, dont seem to have the patience for it any more! And of course, part of me is convinced that its her problem and not mine to deal with.. :(

Sue said...

Hmm... If she loves to sing and is a good singer then it's not a good sign if she's stopped singing. For me at least it meant a bad bout of depression. But yeah, give it time and see.

kbpm said...

Yeah. I know what you mean. Not sure if she is a 'good singer' dont know if i have the objectivity/capacity to judge that, but yes, we like our songs, both of us. I was telling her yesterday that the two passions my father had were teaching and singing, and you should have seen her eyes light up. "what did he sing?"
Oh well, my intentions are good, thats my comfort...

Poppins said...

Ouch. I agree with you on that pressure thing altho' I would make a good compe-mommy (except the bribing judges thing). See, I have years of experience of being egged by my mom. Lets see when the time comes, how much I can egg my child.

But I do feel that children get bored if the whole exercise becomes attached to some reward system. I know a friends' son who loved to dance (and danced rather well at 3), was packed off to freestyle dancing and now REFUSES to dance even for fun

I think there's a lesson in all of this, for us but I'll be damned if I know what it is.

Sole said...

So...did it work? Did she write what she loves about her teacher?

kbpm said...

Poppy - yeah, what is the lesson? could be so many things! time will tell!

sole - don't know! i am hoping they give the sheets of paper back so i can enjoy it (and hopefully, resist the temptation to give feedback on :-)).