Today, when I look back to the day, when my husband and myself, along with my elder kid Vignesh, appeared for his Pre-KG admission interview, way back in January 2002, I am not able to control my laughter. At that time, I was carrying my second kid, (I was 5-6 months pregnant) and was working as a Maths Lecturer with SRM Engineering College, Kattankalathur. We were staying at Saidapet and my parents were at Tambaram Sanatorium, in my ancestral house. Every morning, I used to come by taxi to my parent’s place along with Vignesh, who was barely two then, leave him with my mom, and then proceed to college. In the evening, I would come back to my mom’s house, take Vignesh, and travel by suburban train to Saidapet back home. I thought the school, Vel’s Vidyashram, located at Pallavaram, would be an ideal choice so that my parents’ would be able to drop and pick up Vignesh easily. Also, the school opening time coincided with my delivery due date, adding more worries. We had filled in the application form, and our interview date was mentioned some date in January.
At home, none of us used to converse specifically in English. My mother used to put him a few English Rhymes CD while making him sleep in the baby rocker. As the interview date was nearing, my husband, my in-laws all were trying to ask him few basic questions in English, like “What’s your name?”, “What’s your father’s/mother’s name”, “How old are you ?” etc. He used to understand and answer those questions as well as identify colours etc.etc.,
On the interview day, we three started well before the scheduled time, and reached the school campus. There were several similar parents who were waiting along with their boy/girl. When Vignesh’s turn came, it was first the parents’ who were interviewed. My husband faced questions like, “How do you balance between your work and family?”, “How do you plan to help you son with his studies??(He was joining just Pre-KG, not IIT/IIM etc) and things like that. When the principal met me, her first question was “You have mentioned you are working. How can you spend time with your child, who needs you definitely during his formative years?” I immediately replied, “That was one of the reason I opted for teaching jobs, because, I can also be at home, when my kid is around. Also, it is the quality of time, that I spent, rather than the quantity of time spent” This made her mum. Finally, we were put in a room, where there were three or four teachers, sitting in different corners of the room, calling out for children individually. When Vignesh’s turn arrived, he promptly went to her, wished her greetings, and sat on the chair. A few initial questions were asked and from a distance itself, we could see that he was faring well. Vignesh, being a calm, soft natured boy, his face itself used to reflect his moods. The next question, he was just looking blank. We wondered what could be that question. The teacher was repeating “Jump! Vignesh Jump”. He just didn’t know what to do, and was looking at the teacher. Then she actioned and at the same time said “JUMP”. He just followed her, and jumped. At one instance, I was wondering what a fool I had been not to teach him basic english. At the same time, I thought, English has become something which we cannot live without. So, he will learn by himself. But being in Tamil Nadu, and not English, is really a shame on my part. Both my husband and myself didn’t want our kids to call us “Mom /Dad” instead of அழகிய தமிழ் சொற்களான “அம்மா மற்றும் அப்பா”.
Still we used to tease Vignesh, as to he didn’t JUMP when he was asked to do so in the interview..
Today, we are proud that he is in Fifth Standard and his English levels are too good, thanks to his own interest, and the way he has been taught English. Also, he has just recently bagged the First prize for the essay writing competition, titled, “My favourite Teacher”.