In my day, we started this ‘pursuit’ at the age of four. Yes, at four! I’m talking about a time long ago – over five decades back. And four was considered a very early age for school in those days. My mother was jittery about sending us to school…on the first day…and the next few days as well. In those days, nobody could even dream of sending a two-year-old to school, away from home and the watchful eye of parents, grandparents, and maids. We had no pre-schools or play schools as such. We stepped into LKG or Lower Kinder Garten. This was our pre-school. From here it would be UKG – Upper Kinder Garten and then at age six into first grade, or Class I, as it was called back then.
“I felt abandoned- watching my mother leave me with strangers. I’ll never forget that feeling. Then I had very happy years at school.” -Claire Sweeney
I can vividly recall how abandoned I felt as my mother gently prised my fingers to release her hand so she could wave goodbye as she walked away. I felt abandoned. I was scared. But the rest of my memories are of happy days at the various schools I attended. We moved a lot as my father was posted out often which is why my elder sisters were in a boarding school.
Two is the new four now!
I watched as my twin granddaughters went through the rigors of being woken earlier than usual…dressed and bundled off with a bag on their back. Cute bags with their names and everything inside name tagged. Two-three pairs of clothes, socks, and some diapers! (The diapers apart from their age is another big difference between then & now)
I was excited and kept chanting, “It’s a big day today. It’s a big day today…you’re going to play-school,” as I followed them around with my phone in hand, clicking pictures. This grandma loves to preserve memories on film.
Both parents did their bit with preparing them for this eventful day. Everyone, including the nanny, was a bit anxious.
They are so tiny! As a mother, I went through the whole gamut of emotions when my sons were ready to enter the portals of knowledge. Things had changed, from my days, and the entry level was Nursery, a class before LKG, at age three. So I was very nervous when my elder one left to walk into his class at three. If he was nervous or scared, he didn’t show it at all; neither in his actions nor on his face. I was the one in knots! And when my younger one was ready for school they had lowered the age to two and a half for Nursery! That did things to me that wrenched my heart and twisted my stomach and jangled my nerves. In the present moment, I found that I did not suffer ‘that’ sort of pain as I watched the twins but a new kind…different…dull, heavy, aching, coupled with pride, joy, and a bit of relief (I know that sounds selfish!) that I was the Grandma and not the parent. It left me free to record more memorable moments for me to relive over and over again!
And then it was time to load the bags on their little backs…the load they’ll be carrying for a long time henceforth! My heart ached for these little babies. Amaara was fine with it from the get-go but Miraaya changed her mind…she went from WOW!..to OW, OW! in one second!
Then it was time to leave. I asked them to pose for a picture at the door…they did better, they spontaneously sang with actions: ‘When you’re happy and you know it…’ This was a bonus. I videoed them! A short time later they were out and the group of mama, papa, nanny and the VIPs got into the elevator. I said bye-bye and hurriedly clicked a pic, just in time, before the doors slid shut. One of them, Miraaya, was crying! It had begun…the pursuit of knowledge.
At school, Amaara took up where Miraaya had stopped. However, a phone call forty minutes later from the teacher laid all our apprehensions and worries to rest. Both the girls were playing and enjoying themselves. And before I knew it, they were back…all smiles and in one piece! Except for some hair pieces, that had kept them from looking like little Shih Tzus!
These are the priceless gems of Grannyhood!
“You’re off to great places. Today is your first day!
Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” -Dr Seuss