The following account surpasses what nightmares on elm-lined streets, psychos wearing their dead mothers’ wigs to kill, ghosts that needed busting, shapes like rings or signs six seven eight made me feel. It may send chills down your new-daddy-mommy spines too and worse still currents up your neck into the head that thought evil was dead. It isn’t and is very much alive, singing happy songs as you read this.
My son turned two, and just like a Punjabi daughter turning 23 attracts mothers-aunties-cats-n-kittens of suitors, I suddenly find my house full of visitors who pray to tell me all that I need to know and certainly do not need to know about Play-Schools. Here I was happily busy showing him the world as I see it and as he knows it already, and there a whole new phase of toddler-hood was waiting to come pouncing down on us. And pounce it did, in varied shapes and sizes, as the mothers of school-going brats came to make friendship with me to guide me in Step 1 of my son’s path to academic glory and excellence and maybe a Harvard at the end – but for now his Play School.
Now, this play school business is no child’s play. It is business. Start asking around about one and you realize how right the poor being was who said, ‘There are no rich and no poor. Only different levels of poverty’. Come play into our hands your green dough and see your child grow, they all seem to avow. If I want to send my son to play with other sons and daughters of the nation called New Delhi, I have 2 stark choices today:
- I send him to Chopra aunty’s ‘Ding-Dong Kidzz’, Sharma aunty’s ‘Gay Way Play’ or Singh aunty’s ‘Happie Tottie’ - names for drawing rooms converted to empty rooms with cushions, mats, some toys, posters of Mickey Mouse and Ben 10 looking like they cross-bred and 2 ayahs to make sure the mats remain dry and clean. Mid-day meal of Maggi (all kids love it, you see!) included.
- I send him to big budget play-schools starting with Euro (the strongest currency I believe?) or Zee or Alpha Beta Gamma Theta or Father’s Pride or something even bigger than that pride. Names for play-rooms with fancy swings, fancy chairs, fancy toys, fancy nannies and fancily-dressed teachers.
Fancy that now! The devil and the deep sea, together!
My experience with reading 5-star food menus like books written in Urdu, from right-to-left, came in handy when I turned to Mr. Google for a little help. I read the fee first, and then the “facilities” being offered to make my son into a demi-God of blocks, coloring books and hip-shakes to rhymes. And guess what, I hugged the devil, jumped into the deep sea with him and called it a day, that being the best option to deliver myself of all evil for the time being!
Am I to choose a school where I can walk and drop and pick-up, or one where I pay a few trunks extra and get a private Hundai Accent pick-drop-facility-school-cab, with AC and stereo, in case your ward likes to pee in his diaper with Radio Mirchi playing his tune? Am I to pick the simple teacher speaking fancy or the fancy teacher talking simple? Is a mowed lawn important for my child’s growth? Should the ayahs wear uniform or it matters not? Should toilet-training be on the list of responsibilities parents can absolve themselves of or my baby’s little bum goes and comes in his teddy-diaper I lovingly wrapped him in? And basically, should I sell my wedding jewellery to get my son admitted in his play-school or should I just sell the car and walk him over to admit him into Mehta aunty’s “Chubby Cheeks” (no pun)? Play-schools or Prey(upon-your-fat-wallet)-Schools, hello there devil and deep sea – here I come, again. Splash!
Next day Good Karma came back, and his doctor asked me to wait a few months more before introducing him to paid play. The well-wishing ladies swishing into my living room and making it my killing room went home to save-up on their precious breaths. And for now I go to bed, sans devils and deep seas but always with this thought in my head – Does anyone know the most important part of the shoe that needs to be polished? It is not the M&S calf-leather toe on your tiny tot’s tiny foot. At the end of the day, it is the one that’s standing inside the shoe that needs to shine the most!