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Mother’s instinct versus grandmother’s wisdom

All mothers are compulsive worriers. I am no exception. We want the best for our little ones, from underpants to suits, pacifiers to sippy cups, hair oil to shampoo. And when the best doesn’t happen, we fret. My parenting decisions are based on: 1. What my mom and mom-in-law opine, 2. What Babycenter says, and 3. What my intuition says.

When the topic of sending my 27-month-old son to playschool came up, I was met with ‘What! How could you send such a small baby to school?’, and ‘I never went to school until I was 5 and I turned out okay!’

And thus began a process of convincing my kin of the benefits of sending kids to playschool early on.

We live in times when we hardly know who lives next door, so finding playmates for kids becomes a herculean task. Considering that most parents are working, it is the grandparents or careakers who come to the rescue. Though it is a blessing in most cases, it also limits the kid’s interaction with this small group. In the absence of siblings the problem is aggravated. Kids do not get an opportunity to learn to love, share with or care for people other than family. For want of better ways to spend quality time with children, parents find refuge in technology. The result: tech-savvy, pampered, spoilt brats who never take no for an answer.

I felt playschools try and help address this issue. First, there are other kids of the same age group with whom children can spend a few precious hours of the day. They learn to not be clingy to their parents and try to be more independent. What we gained by playing hours on end with our neighbouring kids when we were young is the same as what our kids gain by going to a playschool. My argument was, it is not enough to just pamper the kids with expensive gadgets and toys; they also need that invaluable human experience of growing up with other kids.

After much squabbling and pleading, it was decided. My son would start his educational journey on the auspicious day of Vijayadasami. But the big question remained: Which playschool is good enough? It was then that I realised I had not even grazed the surface of the problem.

Options, claims

Once I began my customary visits to different playschools around my locality, I was flooded with calls and mails from various playschools claiming superiority over others. Everyone needed that alpha spot but was intent on extracting as much money as possible from unsuspecting parents. ‘Montessori’, ‘Play-way learning’ and ‘Peer learning’ seemed to be the catch-phrases everywhere. Having done enough research in these areas, I was convinced this was the way to go. But it seemed I had completed my education spending less than what I would spend for my son’s kindergarten.

All I needed was a safe place for my little one where he would be exposed to stimuli that would kindle his curiosity about the outside world – the world beyond the cozy confines of the household.

After what seemed like eternity and a lot of sifting through the multitude of playschools on every street, I found the one. A school with just 20 kids, three teachers and two caretakers, the right numbers for a school-going experience. Surprisingly, it was also easy on the pocket. And thus started my son’s foray into the outside world. Unlike us who used to wail all the way to school up until first grade, children these days are only more than happy to go to school — what with the colourful toys, building blocks, play-dough...

Now, two years later, he looks forward to going to school, is happy to get home to his grandmom, waits patiently till my husband and I return home, doesn’t throw tantrums, is independent, is eager to learn, is curious and above all, empathetic.

This is not just the brag of a proud mother but of tough, timely, maternal instinct-backed decisions. Changing with the times and standing up for what we feel is right are the most needed parental traits of the day!

prameena88@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 5:55:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Mother%E2%80%99s-instinct-versus-grandmother%E2%80%99s-wisdom/article17047229.ece

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