Shepherding to school

All hell would have broken loose had the father tried to get him fully dressed at home!

Come rain or shine, one always finds children waiting for their school buses in the morning. Most often, they are accompanied by one of the parents, who carries that monster of a school bag while the child skips along.

One look at the parent and you get an idea of the challenge the day holds for the child. If it is a test, you will find them, textbook or notebook in hand, doing a quick revision with the child. Stand nearby and you can sense the tension the parents feel! All the lessons have to be revised quickly and thoroughly before the bus arrives, which could be any time. They nervously look up now and then from the book to check if the bus is on its way.
The older children riding pillion on a two-wheeler with their father or mother do their revision themselves. Leaning the book against the rider’s back, which doubles as a lectern, the children comfortably flip through the pages.

And what do you make of the parent who is gingerly holding that big, delicately-prepared model? It is D Day for projects. You find another hurriedly cutting out pictures from a chart; you understand the child has to carry pictures and put them all together at school and the mother and father, together or alone, battling against time, couldn’t get it done at home.

If the kid is too young to inform the teacher that it should steer clear of curds in school, how would the parent let the class teacher know? Go to school for that purpose? Or call the teacher? Not if he or she is the innovative kind. They would write it out on a piece of paper and pin it to the kid’s dress.

If there are more dos and don’ts to convey, they would pin more pieces of paper or use a bigger piece with numbered instructions. The child may look like a bill board. So what? The point has been conveyed effectively.

By far the best instance of parental ingenuity for me involves a kindergarten student going to school some twenty years ago. The boy would reach the school with his father on a scooter, wearing shorts and a vest. The father, seating him on the scooter close to the gate, would brush and comb his hair and get the shirt on before leading him into the school. Seeing this scene played out day after day, I figured out that this was a ruse the father had adopted to get an unwilling boy to school. Obviously, all hell would have broken loose had the father tried to get him fully dressed at home!

In a few years’ time, the same boy will, in all probability, be shepherding his child to school. Hopefully, he’ll then remember the trick his father used!

Comments (+)