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  • Writer's pictureAditi

The first page of a new chapter.

It’s a blessing to hear your toddler laugh and giggle. But it’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear your little baby crying for Mumma and you can’t do a thing about it.

It all started a week back when I started preparing my daughter Reya for preschool.

Relatives and friends were all so taken aback that she hadn’t started school yet even at two and a half. But we decided to wait.

I was mind-boggled as to when is the right time to start school for my little one. I’ve seen parents sending their kids to school in less than two years. But their circumstances might be such that they didn’t have much of a choice. But I did.

So, as usual, I went to my last resort. I asked my mother-in-law what to do. Her answer was very clear and straightforward. She said “Aditi, once she starts school it’s never-ending. Let her enjoy it for a few more months at home. What’s the hurry?”

And that was that. We started school hunting, got things finalised and made the most of her last few months of freedom from the institution of education.

A month before school I got her in the habit of eating her meals more independently. Although I sat with her to help her through, I could see the difference in her eating habits. Thankfully there was some improvement over a period of time.

A week before school I start waking Reya up early. So she would, sort of, get into the routine. Sounds bizarre but I also taught her how to go up and down the stairs by herself as they had a flight of stairs in her school as well.

I started talking about school and what fun activities are there for her to do and what fun it’s going to be.

One afternoon, I told her she would be going to a playgroup as Peppa and George do in a cartoon series called Peppa Pig. I also had to mention that daddy pig and mummy pig are not there with Peppa during playgroup.

Reya wasn’t very happy. Initially, she bluntly said “NO! I don’t want to go to school.” But slowly the pep talk moved forward and there was gradual progress. I thought to myself that maybe she was ready for school. But who was I kidding?

Her school started on Monday! I spent Sunday afternoon preparing for school. I wanted to keep everything ready. Fortunately, Reya didn’t sleep that afternoon. And went to bed early. Lucky me!

My eyes opened when my alarm went off at 6 am on Monday morning. I woke up with mixed emotions of excitement and reluctance to let her go. But I consoled myself and said it’s time to let your little bird fly. You can’t keep her in your nest forever.

My morning went as per schedule, starting from her time on the shit pot till she reached school.

The teachers immediately took her in and didn’t give her a chance to say anything. It all happened so fast within the blink of an eye. She didn’t cry for the first half-hour. And then they sang a nursery rhyme. That just made her burst into tears. She hates songs and music. Yes, unbelievable but I find it very weird but she doesn’t even let me sing or even hum a song. She would say, “STOP!” Poor thing was pretty overwhelmed with the whole situation.

When we got home she slowly expressed herself in the afternoon while I was putting down for a nap. She told me, “I missed you in school Mumma. And I missed dada.”

She also complained that she didn’t make any friends and she didn’t like her teacher either.

As the days went by, school got even harder for her. She would start crying in the car itself and sadly say, ‘I don't want to go to school.’ Every day there was some new drama. I would have a new story to tell everyone when I got back home.

I would sit at the reception and see new kids just walk into class without saying a word.

A couple of days later, coronavirus put our lives on hold. So, no more school.

Her Dadi asked her, “Reya why aren’t you going to school today?” Reya said, “Umm, it’s Saturday over there.”

We all had a good laugh. And I thought to myself it’s going to be Saturday there for a long time.

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