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I already was a mother to a lovely Son and this should not have been any different or difficult for me. This – my second pregnancy!! But it was different in every aspect. For one, I was never lonely. I had a great companion in my first son to go through this again. He was a constant chatter of questions and answers all by himself. All of 4 years and he was eagerly waiting for his sibling, maybe he felt the need of a playmate. But he cared a lot for me and never troubled me or threw a tantrum all through.
And finally the day came and surprise, surprise..…another boy!!!
So you see IT should have been easy and it was in the beginning, my elder son loved his kid brother from the first sight and was eager to entertain him and help around in everything and anything. Slowly he settled into a regular life of “wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to school, come back by mid day, spend all his remaining time with his brother”. He would ask me to take rest and even not disturb me when the baby needed a nappy change!!!! Life was all smooth sailing.
Couple of years passed by and it was time to start off the second one’s schooling!! And it was then that all hell broke loose!!! As he was December born, he would never be the right age to start off school!! So I felt the earlier the better as he was doing all the stuff right!! Talk, walk, eat, potty trained and totally adorable.
We as parents were interviewed (a fashion now-a days)and finding us capable of being rightly educated in every sense, admission was given and 6 months later he was ready to go. Constant pep talks and interaction with his big B(Bhaiyya), he was also anticipating his days at school with both pleasure and a bit of apprehension.
And me?? I also wanted to start off my career where I had left it. Not something as grand as before, but something to occupy me and keep me in touch with the outer world. So, with these thoughts, for once I felt relived and happily gave my consent to a teaching job(the timings got to me!!) very close to home.
Off both my kids went away their ways and me to work. I would be back before the younger was back. Very very comfortable to all of us.
But one fine day my luck ran out. The elder one had school and the younger had a holiday. But I, I had to work!
As every working mom with a 2 and a ½ year kid, I too tugged my kiddo to MY school. He enjoyed the freedom and attention he got as a “Teacher’s Son” and basked in it. This had to be repeated the next day too!!
A day later, he went to HIS school, a bit low in spirits, but was soon fine and was I glad!!
But suddenly one day, he started crying and refused to go to school. He said he wanted to be with me in my school. But that was not possible and I tried my best to put some sense in to his upset self.
This is where all trouble started. From a happy warm child, he became a sad one within a few days. He refused to eat or play. He would go to school (nursery) and then come back with a pinched look on his face and scared to be back the next day.
At first we did not give this much attention as we felt it must be a normal tantrum for his wanting to be with me. All of us together just tried to get his mind off school and entertained him in every way. My elder one especially spent a lot of time playing and sharing his picture books with him. We all avoided talk of “The School”. Got him up every morning and silently sent him off by hook or crook to school. But the poor thing was so troubled, upon being back he would not leave me even for a single moment. Or he would go around listless...he was just 2 yrs 8 months old.
Let me tell you about the school itself......This school has been there for the past 30 years and I myself had started off schooling there. All the neighbourhood kids were there and it was not a scary place. Cool and comfortable with lots of play area, they were taught to read – write without any stress of any kind. They were told stories in the open area under the tress, which all the kids enjoyed. They had play time and sleep time. Kids corner was always available. The kids were not forced to sit in the class and were free to move around and then again settle down. These were the few reasons why we wanted our child to be part of this school. Our elder one had been quite happy being part of it.
So we were totally at our wits end when our younger darling refused to settle down. Finally, a week into this, the dreaded call from school, “Parents, make yourself available ASAP”!!
Upon meeting up with the Principal, we came know how much our child was actually disturbed. She told us that he was totally non-co operative and would clam up and not speak a word. Upon much cajoling, he would go out of the class room and sit outside for the entire period – all alone!! My heart twisted with pain when I heard this.
What was more confusing was, when all the kids of his class would come out and try to talk to him and get him to play, he would go right back in to the class and again be all by himself there. This had been going on for a couple of days. The teachers had tried all they could to make him comfortable but he would not budge. As I was an old student, they asked me to be present in the school along with my son for a few days to ease him and make him comfortable.
Off went my job!! No time for it anymore. Son was top priority now!!!!
I would get ready with him and would take him to school, put him in his class with his mates and sit outside hoping for a miracle. But a week went by and it did not work. He would be all by himself, not mingling with anyone and then at the end of the day run home with me and be happy with me.
To be totally honest, I was a bit angry too. Why could he not adjust like all the other kids have, a bit of crying and then settling down. I could have gone back to my job. It was a totally selfish thought and I felt ashamed for it too, but it just popped up!!
It was a perplexing and depressing situation for all of us. What do we so?? Was there really an issue here was were we all over reacting ??!! Should we take him off school? Would that not give him a feel that he can get to escape from life necessities or should we continue to send him to the school and pray that all would be fine one day?? This became the million dollar question.
Upon interacting with other parents, I found this to be a very unique issue and everyone had some or the other remedy, but nothing was quite appealing.
Finally I decided to call a cousin of mine who was Trained in handling such child related issues. On “consulting” her, the first thing she told me that my child was upset for a reason and it was genuine. I had to find the root cause. Secondly, I should discontinue him from school, give him a break to get his bearings and maybe try later. If I continued to push him, he would have a scare of school for life.
After a heart to heart talk with hubby we decided to take him off the school. I was very upset as it was a fine place and I would not get re-admission for sure. The way things looked, my son was also quite determined not to go back.
But within a week I got him into another nearby place!! We spoke to the principal that we were not at all particular about his studies. All we wanted was him to feel comfortable away from home and get involved and adjusted with kids of his age. He was not to be stressed in any way to sit tight in the classroom.
The management was very understanding to try this out. They had also never faced such a situation before. Surprisingly everything clicked and very soon the spark was back in my dear son’s eyes and step. He was raring to go to school everyday, started writing too and participating in all the play and activities. We all heaved a sigh of relief. But there was this nagging thought at the back of our minds, WHY?? Why our son could not adjust where hundreds other had, even his elder brother had been happy there.
After about a year, we got the answer to this puzzle. I, very simply, playfully was talking to him about school. I asked him if he was happy and comfortable here. He grinned ear to tear and said he loved it. “It is very nice mamma, he said. Not like the teacher in the other school”, he made a sour face looking at me. I was shocked. This was news to me. All the teachers were very patient and pleasant kind back there and I knew most of them Then what happened with my son to feel so ill at ease with one of them?? All kind of thoughts came rushing into me and I was berating myself for not having got deeper into the problem.
Upon prying more, he blurted out all that he had bottled up in his tiny heart and mind. He said initially, his class was near the main door, airy and well lit. He loved it there and was happy watching the trees and birds. Then one day he was moved to an inner classroom which had high walls and needed light all the time. “It was so scary amma, i did not like it at all. I cried and told the teacher to put me in the old class, but she said she will put me in the dark room and took me there”. Now, there was this store kind of room in the school and was usually referred to as the dark room. No one was allowed here as all kind of cleaning stuff was kept in it. I was totally shocked and started crying to realise what he must have gone through at the moment. Naturally he shut himself up. The teacher had scared him to silence!!! Thank God he had reacted adversely and we got him out of there or he would have been so damaged for life!!
The very next day, though it was a year past, I returned to the school and spoke to the Principal about this revelation. She was genuine in her reaction and said that for some reason many parents had felt uncomfortable about the teacher and she had asked her to leave 6 months back. She no longer worked in the school and children had settled down. She apologised for not having gone deeper and ensured an admission into the school again.
But my child was happy and I knew he would never feel comfortable in that environment gain. So off I went happy and relieved and promising myself that I would always be with my kids and try to understand them before I jump to conclusions.
10 years past now, both have grown in to happy kids and confide in me even the slightest discomfort they might feel.
Lesson well learnt was that however small the child is one should give him or her the attention we bestow on a disturbed adult, in fact more so. I am thankful to my cousin every moment to have been so clear in her understanding and making me do the right thing. Take care dear parents and listen carefully. There might be a reason behind that tantrum.