Monday, 22 September 2014

Bheja Fry

"Beta, who developed the theory of relativity?" 


The proud nani is crowing over her two-year-old grand-daughter's skills while I agonise over what I am doing wrong with my 16-month-old, who can barely identify her nose.

"I really like the way this play-school operates. They teach Einsteinian theory through blocks."

"The mum-toddler classes that I attend does a comparative analysis of Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche." 

"MY play-group is taking advanced classes in the Japanese tea ceremony as an activity."

I look around at all these wunderkinds who can presumably expound new theories for the destruction of the Indus Valley Civilization and the creation of Black Holes in the same breath and go on to compose an entire set of raginis in the next. I feel overawed and embarrassed for my poor baby, who has just begun to identify her family and a few everyday objects. I am determined to embark on a new course of study to better myself and her. 

Day 1: I begin to furiously research playschools and pre-schools. We will consider only those that have an impeccable academic and co-curricular record. I make a short-list of schools that offer krav-maga, comparative literature, advanced calculus and zumba. After all, I don't want to overload the little tyke. 

Day 2: K and I begin rehearsing for the interview process. Her part consists of looking cute and not making "I want to go potty" faces. I am stressed, though. About what to wear (I can't come across as too casual or too formal) how much of my work to talk about (You're a gender activist and communication consultant? Stay away/ How lovely?) how much emphasis to give to the home atmosphere? In addition to brushing up my admittedly weak General Knowledge (I watch the Alia Bhatt video for tips) I am getting PP to give me a crash course in Industrial Chemistry. 

Day 3: We go for the interview. Only one parent is allowed and PP has frankly funked out. (He claims exigencies of work, but I can tell. Besides, he claims, I have the flexibility to schedule my work a bit. Ok. OK.) I take a deep breath and we walk in to the gate; K hanging on to my finger. The guard at the gate asks me my name, address, mobile number, blood group and Mensa score. I don't have a Mensa score. He gives me a flat look. No Mensa score. No entry. I try and argue and threaten him but he is firm. I am not even sure I possess an IQ after trying to juggle everything in my life. Mensa? Really? 

Day 4: The next school only accepts parents who own at least 5000 square feet of luxury condo space in any major metropolitan city in the world (If it's a Third World country, the space requirements are upped to 15000). Apparently this is so that the child has ample space for physical activity and privacy for introspection. D-uh. We own NO space anywhere. Strike Two.

Day 5: The third one demands that mums be able to look like models straight off runways; hold down a corporate job (VP in an MNC at the very least); cook and bake like a Cordon Bleu chef; handle all relationships including extended familial ones with the ease of a trained psychologist; socialise at least four times a week and spend 24/ 7 with the child. No go. On all counts. 

By now I am desperate. I contemplate taking up teaching so that the brat can be admitted to the same school. But I shudder at the thought of trying to cope with so many kids. I have my hands full with one. All admiration for pre-school teachers, but no aspiration. 

And then a soft cheek rubs against mine... "Ichaaa. Lub-you." (Translation: Richa, I love  you) and I wake up. Thankfully reality is slightly better than the nightmare. If only for the moment. 

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