My younger son Akhilesh completed three years last month and we decided to put him in the same school where his brother Akash is studying in UKG. We submitted the application on an auspicious day and finally, got the much-awaited interview card. But three hurdles had to be crossed before our little one cleared the interview, fixed for 2 p.m. on a Monday

Getting him ready

Akhilesh, who is just out of the terrible twos (as they call this age when kids are between two and three years, want to have their way and make their own choices), still has that hangover. He spends a solid 30 minutes crying if you change his dress. Did I hear someone saying why don't you choose a dress he likes? All he likes is green, and only light green. He wants to wear a light green T-shirt and a light green tracksuit all the time. He refuses to remove his even while bathing and agrees only when you show him another pair of light green shirt and pants he can wear after that. All his light green dresses look faded now due to wear and tear!

Getting him to speak

Akhilesh is a hyperactive child at home, being born five weeks before the due date. But in his playschool, he has selective friends (mostly girls) and speaks less with them also. When I asked him if he speaks to his friend Shreya in Tamil or Telugu (our mother-tongue which is also Shreya's), he used to reply ‘English.' What do they speak in English? Pat came the reply: ‘A B C D.' His playschool teacher said he used to be happy playing on his own most of the time.

Keeping him awake

His daily nap time is 2 p.m. We had no idea how long we would have to wait before being called for the interview. So would our guy stay awake till then? My husband recalled an incident that happened last year in the same school. His friend's kid slept off and was woken up when he was called for the interview. No wonder, he made it a point to answer all questions wrongly being in a bad mood because of being woken up. But the school was reasonable enough to give him admission!

For us, the D-day finally arrived. Surprisingly, when my mom gave Akhilesh a black and white T-shirt and a black pant, he did not protest. We thanked God for helping us cross the first hurdle.

Our entire ‘parivaar' went for the interview. We were asked to wait in the library. Akash's class teacher was the one who was coordinating — making us sit and calling out when the next person has to go inside the Principal's room. She tried speaking to Akhilesh and he clearly showed he did not want to speak or become friends with her.

Then our turn came and we went inside. Some senior students were talking to the Principal. “Tell rhymes and you will get a chocolate,” Akash whispered to Akhilesh, pointing to a bowl of chocolates kept on her table. “London bridge is falling down,” he said (he did not sing) and told Akash, “Hey, she is not giving me still?” After the senior students left, the Principal asked Akhilesh: “What is your name?” Thanks to the brother's coaching, he answered: “Akhilesh.” She asked him to tell her some rhymes. Again he said, “London bridge is falling down,” as though he was reading a line of prose, without any expression. As a matter of fact, ‘London bridge is falling down,' is all that he wanted to say. It was just opposite the way he sings merrily (the whole rhyme) every time we get on a bridge while going by car.

Next the Principal asked: “Do you know Johny Johny yes papa.” No reply from our guy who kept looking at her. Then, he suddenly sang in a low tone: “Built it up with bricks and stones” (from London bridge).

The Principal opened a book and pointed to a few fruits and asked him to identify them. I asked Akash not to prompt his brother. We were so glad when Akhilesh answered everything correctly — ‘apple, banana, watermelon.' “What colour is this,” she asked, pointing to an apple. “Red,” he replied. “Wow, you know so many things,” she said.

The Principal opened a book of numbers. She pointed to a ball and asked “what is this?” — “Ball,” he said. Then she pointed to the next thing (2 cats). “Cat,” he replied (I thought he would say “Meow” or “Pilli”). The Principal asked: “How many are there — count and tell.” I thought our guy would be lost as she was speaking fully in English. But he used the two little fingers in his right hand to count and said “1, 2…2.” The Principal seemed impressed! She asked us to go and pay the fees! “Super, see how superbly he answered all questions! He passed, right?” Akash asked me.

“Our son has cleared the CAT interview!” — my husband exclaimed.

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