Today, during the tea time, I overheard conversation between my colleague., One of them had just returned from a reputed school where he was trying to secure an admission for his young daughter. I said, “I am now beyond all this, since both my kids would not need my assistance anymore for admission.”
Anybody who is familiar with the educational system in India knows that this “admission” nightmare would happen three times in every kid’s (and hence in parents’) lives.
First time, while securing admission into the KG / primary school. A good school would mean the child is on his way to a good career. And for this the parents and the children have to go through a lot of trouble. Stand in a queue to get an admission form, then another queue to submit the form. After that, an interview of the parents & the child. Demands for donations and finally the admission.
The second time is after the high school (10th grade) to get into a junior college. The race is to get the subjects of choice in a good college.
The third time is after the Junior college (12th grade) to get into a professional career. The stress here starts immediately after the admission into junior college is done. And the kids and the parents struggle for two full years. The whole life for the family becomes a very hectic routine. College, tuition classes, practice exams, practice practicals, so on and so forth. And then after the results are out, struggle to get admission in a good professional or academic course.
For me, my son, Mihir already graduated from a good engineering college and my daughter got into a reputed science college to do graduation in microbiology. However, all this discussion reminded me of the episode of Mihir’s admission to the KG.
We reached school in time for our interview. This was Mihir’s first school interview. He was all of four years old. We had not specifically coached Mihir for the interview. Even then he was a very smart kid. My father was an educationist. Mihir was always with him and my father would play various games with him using alphabets, numbers etc. So even on his 2nd birthday, Mihir knew all English and Marathi alphabets and numbers. He could solve a 12 piece complex jigsaw puzzle without a hitch when we went for the interview.
An elderly lady talked to us. She first quizzed me and Geeta about us, our family, our educational and financial background. She then turned to Mihir and asked him a few questions. He answered them. Then she gave him a very simple puzzle. It was a photograph cut into four simple pieces. She asked Mihir to assemble those pieces and make the picture. To our horror, Mihir could not put it together! Someone who did a complex, 12 piece puzzle couldn’t put these four pieces with straight edges together!!
The lady dismissed us. She didn’t tell us the result. She said the school will get back to us. This was also our first interview for our kid’s school admission, we didn’t know what to expect. We were very tense. In the heat of the moment, we gave a good tongue lashing to Mihir. “What happened to you? Did your brain take a vacation?You solve even more difficult stuff in jiffy, and you couldn’t do that? Now we may have to put you in a far off school. And even there, if you behave like you did today, you won’t get admission!”
Mihir listened to all this. He was obviously very upset, and knew that he had done something wrong. Amazingly, he didn’t start crying. After about an hour, he came to us, almost in tears. And said, “What will happen to me if I don’t get admission anywhere?”. He was really afraid about the uncertainty.
We realized our folly. We had transferred all our tension to him and made him sad. In an instant, all our fear left us. In that moment we decided that we were not going to do that to our kids again. (We do forget that sometimes, but remind ourselves, every time we forget.) We hugged him and told him that everything was going to be alright.
And everything did turn alright. Mihir got the admission in that school. We were unnecessarily worried. And the rest as they say is history, geography, English, Marathi, Maths, Hindi