Amrita had put Nik into a Montessori when he was 20 months. She personally thought that it was a little early, but everyone around seemed to be fussing over the fact that everyone starts going to playschool at 18 months. So she conceded. Nik was extremely enthusiastic about going to school. Amrita had deliberately chosen to put him in a play school that was closer to home and did not believe in hoarding kids for commercial gains. What she liked best about the place was that is was spacious, airy and had an ope play area with a grass lawn and swings in it. Nik absolutely loved his school. He was popular with his classmates and his teachers loved him. Everything was going well for the first six months. But one fine day Nik started throwing tantrums that he didn’t want to go the school. Amrita thought that Nik may be finding going to school very taxing after the 3-day break that he had to take due to his viral fever. But she to her plight even after a fortnight Nik continued with his reluctance to go to school and began to cry the moment she started getting him ready for school.
His behavior got Amrita worrying. Ever since the time Nik had started going to school, he had been be extremely excited at the prospect of meeting his friends and the outdoor play time at school. This turn of attitude was something that Amrita had not pre-empted and took her by surprise giving her enough reason to ponder upon what could have possibly gone wrong.
Toddlers are and extremely unpredictable species. One could be caught off-guard with toddler logic and not be able recuperate from it for a very long time. Amrita went through another week of turmoil while she tried to figure what was going on.
One of the days after Nick started throwing tantrums while getting dropped to school she tried to reason with him, “My child, one has to go to school to grow into a big boy. You will become a strong boy like papa if you go to school.” She continued with her pep talk with no real response from her son.
But it didn’t seemed to be working. Another morning she decided to change her approach. Amrita pulled him close to her and put Nik on her lap to make his comfortable and assured him that she wouldn’t force him to go to school. The following conversation followed–
- Amrita: So we won’t go to school today. Are you ok with the idea?
- Nik: Yes.
- Amrita: Will you not miss your friends like Amreek, Tejas, Anushka (named a few more of his playmates) and playing with them?
- Nik: I want to play with them.
- Amrita: In that case you have to go to school dear.
- Nik: Nooooo…
- Amrita: Why? Does your Miss (the instructor) scold you?
- Nik: (looked up into my eyes, very teary eyed himself) hmmm..
Now this came as a little surprise to Amrita. She was completely convinced that the instructors could be insistent but not rude with the kids. The Montessori was after all run by an extremely experienced lady who had been running it for more than 16 years and did not believe in hoarding in large number of kids to make profits. She was very clear with her belief in inducing only as many kids in her system, as many she could tend to personally.
- Amrita: Why? Why did the Miss scold you?
- Nik: No reply.
Amrita braced herself for some probing action.
- Amrita: Did you bully another kid?
- Nik: (shook his head in negative)
- Amrita: Does she scold you when you play in the garden?
- Nik: Nope.
- Amrita: Do you not speak your rhymes when she asks you to? (getting a little impatient now)
- Nik: Naah. I speak my rhymes nicely (still extremely grim faced)
Amrita held on for a minute. She thought about the other reasons that could instigate a stern behavior from an instructor? As Amrita thought over and over again, she recalled that Nik had not been having his lunch at the school. For the last one month the tiffin she packed for Nik had returned with signs of little or no consumption.
- Amrita: Does Miss force you to finish your lunch box?
- Nik: (still looking down) I will not have any lunch at school.
- Amrita: You don’t want to have tiffin in school?
- Nik: No.
Ok! This was a significant breakthrough in the enquiry.
- Amrita: Okay then! That’s no big deal. Today you may tell your Miss that you told mamma that you won’t have your tiffin. Alright?
There was a relieved or even a winning smile on Nik’s face ! And that was it. Amrita concluded that Nik didn’t want to go to school because he didn’t like being coaxed into having his lunch. And all this drama for a little man’s free will !
One can’t beat the spirit of a 3 year old with logic. Amrita realized that she had to somehow work around Nik’s convictions without forcing anything onto Nik and make him feel heard and empowered.
P.S. : Amrita packed vanilla cake with coconut truffles for lunch that day. The box came back empty and clean !
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