My sister was telling me how her neighbor was in fits of blues, as her daughter’s name did not figure in the draw of lots for admission in nursery class, held by the most prestigious school of the city. She told me that the mother was literally in tears cursing her hard luck and was now on a wild-goose chase for some powerful approach to secure a seat for her daughter. But as my sister told her, these days it is almost impossible to secure admission in a good school through any approach, and it is purely your good luck that can get your child’s name selected through lottery. My sister said, “Now it is very difficult to get a child admitted, earlier times were better, when the child was judged through an admission test.” This reminded me of my experiences during the admission of my children. Were those times better? I began to recall.
For the admission of my daughter, around 11 years ago, we had applied for two of the best schools of Shimla, the city we were posted in. We were quite nervous, as it was our first experience. Round-the-clock, we tried to teach manners to our otherwise frolicsome daughter . The walls of our house were clad with various educational charts showing names of fruits, vegetables, colors and the medium of our conversation was switched to English. I tried to get some tips from my brother, who, on the contrary, frightened us with the narrative of one of his friends, who was made to write an essay by the school authorities at the time of admission test of his son. The poor father failed to match the high standard of writing skills expected by the school, resulting in denial of admission to his son. The incidence scared us, but we were lucky enough to be asked some general questions only at the time of admission interview. Our daughter was also asked some questions and given some worksheet, which she was able to complete. Anyway, by God’s Grace or may be through our hard work, our daughter got selected in both the schools. We were filled with a sense of catharsis and pride, but little did we know, what future had in store for us at the time of admission of our son, who was not yet born.
At the time of school admission of my son, who is 7 years younger to my daughter we were posted at Chandigarh. We were little confident this time as our son is extra ordinarily smart and outspoken. Again, not to take chances, we had applied for two schools. The letter from the first school stated that the school did not believe in interviewing a child and so the appointment was for an “informal interaction with the child’. We became quite happy to read this, as it meant that no mugging up was required by the child. But we were not aware that this informal interaction was going to be proved more disastrous.
When we (my husband and I) reached the school along with Aniruddh, our son, we were guided to a cavernous room full of toys. The quantity and quality of toys was sufficient to drive a four year old child crazy. We were asked to sit in a corner, while Aniruddh was allowed to explore the toys. Now, finding so many toys at one place, Aniruddh went berserk. He ran through the whole room, explored many toys before finally entering into a small tent. The teacher tried to interact with him, by asking him to come out, but he refused. We were helplessly watching the actions of our son, as we were not allowed to interfere. Finally, we had a sigh of relief, when the teacher got success in getting him out by luring him with toys. The teacher tried to interact with him by showing him a glass and asked ,” batao to ye kya hai( Tell me, what is this)?” Preoccupied with a toy truck, Aniruddh replied, “Aap batao, Aap batao( You tell me)”. Our faces turned red as this “aap batao, aap batao” drama continued between the two for quite a while. Failed to get a response, the teacher asked him, “ Do you drink milk in a glass or a bottle?” “In a bottle” promptly came the reply. We held our heads with our hands. The fact was, he had never even held a bottle and always drank milk with a glass, but till date, I have failed to understand, why at that moment, he chose to lie for the worse. We soon got a moment of relief, as an intelligent word came from Aniruddh,” If you put water in this glass and keep it in refrigerator, it will turn into ice.” But our happiness was short lived, as when the teacher asked Aniruddh whether ice is hot or cold, he replied, ” Hot.” Now, we were about to faint, not being able to tolerate the unruly behavior and crazy answers being given by our high spirited son, but thankfully, this informal interaction ended here. But this did not end our woes, as the next round was interaction with the Principal. The Principal, after asking some formal questions to us, gave a chocolate to Aniruddh, which he accepted with thanks. Next, he searched for the dustbin and threw the wrapper as our hearts jumped with joy on the manners shown by him. The Principal gave him a tissue to wipe his mouth which we didn’t know was going to play a show spoiler. It so happened that while accepting the tissue, Aniruddh had noticed another dustbin kept on the other side of the teacher and he chose to test his targeting skill by throwing the tissue across the teacher in the bin. The ill fated tissue landed on the teacher, putting all our remaining hopes for his admission into the dustbin. Though apparently, the Principal only said,” O My God! Don’t throw it on me!” , but the disapproval for the unruly child was evident from her face.