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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Big Questions (or, At The EO's Interview)

(Warning, the following is a very LOOOOOOOONG post. Proceed with a cup of tea/mocha joe/bubbly in hand. I myself am horror-struck by its length, but I just din't know which parts to edit. I need all these details to keep the memory alive...)

Yesterday was a D-Day, of sorts. A big, old, important day in my young son's life. His interview at the 'Big School'.

And I have to say, the MIM and I were impressed. The EO didn't disappoint.

He was delightful, charming and the chatterbox that he normally is. Too chatty, if you ask me...and yes, the interviewer remarked upon that as well.

Now, I know I am sounding like a puffed-up, proud and boastful mamma, so, before you carry on reading, please do forgive me. I apologise.

I hadn't prepped my son for the interview at all. I only told him that he had to be respectful and say 'Good evening' when we walked in and to answer the quesions asked to the absolute best of his ability; if he didn't know anything I wanted him to be honest and say, "I'm sorry, I don't know." Of course while telling him this he did ask me seriously why he should be sorry if he didn't know the answer, and then he proceeded to answer his own question himself, "O. Taahole oraa bhaabey je aami poraashona kori naa." ("Oh. Then they'll think that I don't study.") Of course I quickly quashed this heart-wrenching notion of his, telling him that it was just the polite thing to do.

So, that was basically the extent of my training/prepping my son for his BIG interview...greet politely, answer the questions and be honest. Basic everyday expectations I have from him anyways.

Was I tense? Worried? Nervous? Yes, I'll admit I was. As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn't matter whether he gets in or not (in fact, if he does, we'll be in quite the dilemma), but I just wanted them to know that I do have a bright little boy. Kids this age are still unpredictable; they have mood swings, can get cranky, act up, get clingy or suddenly take on a vow of silence. I didn't want them forming an opinion of my son's intelligence and capabilities based on a few lousy questions and a 45 second intro. I wanted my EO to make a good impression. And because that was not in my control, yes, I was tense. Worried. Nervous.

And for a few scary minutes, those feelings took control of me in the car, as the three of, all smartly turned out (well my man and my boy, anyhow) were on our way to the school. I suddenly remembered what a friend of mine had told me many years ago when she was trying out in different schools for her son. An only child, the interviewer asked him how many brothers-and-sisters he had. This boy said two, referring to his cousins. The interviewer looked at the parents who explained that since the cousins were so close, they called each other brother and sister. The interviewer shook his head and wrote something down. My friend's son didn't get in and she thinks it was because her son couldn't differentiate between 'own' brother/sister and cousin brother/sister.

Now, as you know, we live in a joint family. The Nephew is just three months older than the EO and they live in each others pockets. The Niece is seven-days older than the YO and they are joined at the hip. The EO goes around telling the whole world that he has two brothers, "my big brother and one small brother." I frantically decided to give him a family lesson as well as vocab lesson. He wasn't pleased with the concept at all and started arguing.

EO: No! He's not my cousin! He's my big brother and I love him!
A despearte MIM and M4: Of course you love him, shona and of course he's your big brother. He's your big cousin brother.

He quietly leaned back into the seat after a while, looking all pouty and adorable and we decided not to push it.

We arrived on time and while I waited in line along with other parents, the MIM was suddenly all awash with nostalgia and took his first born by the hand and gave him a tour of his school. And no, the MIM didn't forget about me. I was taken for a trip down memory lane too..."See, this is where I split my chin wide open when I was six and I had to be rushed to the nursing home where they gave me stiches"; "And those are the stairs where we used to push each other down"; "And those are the walls we tried to climb"...

Ok people, am I still supposed to want to put my son into this rowdy school? The only sensible wow-thing he said to me was "And that's where Sourav Ganguly and I started playing cricket together."

After we got our application form and other 'sundry documents' verified, we were given a token and asked to wait. Which we did. The EO was all jumpy, the MIM was something akin to starstruck and I was all twitchy! My throat suddenly started to feel very dry and since we were standing next to the 'canteen' (makeshift stall-like structure is more like it!) I asked the MIM for a glass of Coke. The EO looked like Christmas had come early and immediately tried to grab it, but I first took a swig to lower the level. It was coooooooold. I let the EO have a small sip and just started to enjoy the rest when wouldn't you know it, they called our number! In my desperate bid to swig the cold Coke down, I nearly choked and passed some out through my nose! I just pray that there were no hidden cameras about! The MIM helped me finish it and we were asked to go to the first floor. The interviews were taking place in all the Class 1 classrooms and there was a single bench in front of each one. Each time a family went in, the next one sat down and waited their turn.

The MIM, for all his nostalgia, has been extremely cool about the interview. For him, it's a formality and he is absolutely cool about the outcome. He won't be heartbroken if the EO doesn't get into his alma mater.

But suddenly, sitting on the bench, in his old school, just before we were about to go in, I think he felt a surge of panic rise within him as well. So he decided to run the 'cousin' concept by him one more time.

The MIM: your cousin, ok?
The EO: (thoroughly exasperated) OK!!

And then, we were asked to go in. The MIM and I walked in, with the EO in between. We said 'Good evening', she said 'Good evening' and our little man said 'Good evening'. The interviewer looked at him, smiled and said, 'Good evening! What's your name?'

And that's how it started.

The EO: A******
Int.: What a nice name! You study in school?
The EO: (shyly nods his head)
Int. : Which school?
The EO: (monosyllabic answer)
Int.: What is your teacher's name?
The EO: R**** ma'am.
Int: Oh! And you like her?
The EO: (nods his head)
Int.: And what does she do with you in class?
The EO: number dictation...umm...uh
Int.: Dicatation?!
The EO: (thinking hard) number dictation and uh, umm, addition...

At this moment I mentally slapped my forehead and said "Khaisey!" The closest I can give you for that 'eloquent' turn of phrase is 'Ai laa!' or 'Ai yi yo!' or 'Yikes!' An "Oh f***!" sums it up pretty nicely as well.

The thing is folks, October was one big holiday for the EO, with just five days of school, which he missed thanks to virals and mouth blisters. And I didn't sit with him to review his classwork and make him do 'study-related' stuff at all. I just let him have fun. Maybe I dumbed him down a bit. Two days ago, I wanted to see if he remembered the concept of addition. And yes, while he had the concept of it down pat, providing the right answers was proving extremely problematic. And yesterday was the first day of school after the Diwali break. ONE WHOLE MONTH OF NO SCHOOL!

And now, at this important interview, my son goes and tells her that he does addition in his frickin' school! And what does Smart Interview-Lady do? She jumps on the lovingly and innocently preferred piece of info and proceeds to ask him:

Int: So, what is 2+1?
The EO: 2+1? So two in the head (and he puts two fingers on his head) and one in the finger (and he points one finger out). (He repeats himself, all the while tapping his head and the Int, looks on with a very amused expression on her face while I am shitting bricks and the MIM looks paralysed. Finally, after an eternity, the EO takes his two fingers off his head and puts them next to the single, solitary, lone finger resting on the desk and says...) So two fingers and one finger...
Int. : (genlty, with a smile) And what is the total?
The EO: (beaming) THREE!

Yes folks, that huge sigh of relief you heard was mine!

The interviewer then called the EO over to her side and pointed out some pictures of animals in a book and asked him what they were. Now, this was the 'real' interview. This is what they had been asking all the boys. The Nephew had gone through the same process a week ago and my SIL told me that that was it.

The EO, now comfortable and relaxed, swings into full chatty mode and starts pointing out animals, birds and fish that weren't even asked of him. When told that the'big fish' was actually a 'whale', he started arguing that it didn't look like a whale and that it was too small. The interviewer said, "Hmm. Maybe it's a small whale then". Next she pointed to a dolphin which the EO obviously got right. She asked him whether he had ever seen a dolphin show and he said no. She asked him if he watched a lot of TV and my little boy shook his head no! The little lier! I nearly guffawed out loud! Pictures of birds followed...crow, black colour; parrot, green colour 'but sometimes it can be other colours also'.

Int.: Yes, that's right. Parrots can be other colours as well.
The EO: (absolutely on a roll now) and that's an ostrich, that's a pigeon and that's a falcon.
Int.: No, that's a hawk. (Oh come on lady! Give it to him! How many adorable little boys know what a falcon is anyways? {the answer to that, gentle people, would be "Anyone who's seen Stuart Little Part II."} So give the boy a break! And she did...) But yes, it does look like a falcon.
The EO: You know, I have one big cousin brother and one small brother.

I nearly split myself open laughing so hard, on the inside of course. The adorable little dweeb. Not having been asked the only question that his hysteria-driven parents had prepped him for, he decides to go and offer information himself. Of course the dumkopf MIM had to ruin the moment by offering the interviewer an unasked for explanation!! Man! She didn't ask! Save your voice for the questions that she's going to ask you!

And finally, the interviewer turns to us. "He's very chatty isn't he?" She smilingly says of the EO. Now it's my turn to behave like the village idiot and answer her oh-so-obviously rhetorical question with actual words, instead of a smile, "Yes. He's quite the chatterbox!"

Our interview went off without any fireworks. She asked the MIM if he had studied in this school and for how long. He replied from Class 1 right up to 3rd year in college and she said (sarcastically? I wonder) "Oh! So that's why you're so confident!"

Huh? Where did that come from? Confident? No, no, we weren't confident! We knew it was a gamble and a lottery and our son had as much chances of getting in or not getting in as the next boy! So no ma'am, he was not confident. But what can you say to such a question? Nothing! And wisely, this time, that's what the MIM said! She then asked him if he remembered any of his old teachers and he promptly started to rattle off the names of all his class teachers along with year and section. Satisfied, she then turned to me while MIM was still in mid-rattle. I was aked where I was from. She then asked me how I liked Kolkata. Again, a question that is to be treated very carefully. I couln't diss the city obviously and sing hosannas for good ol'beantown, when the MIM decided to put on another display of stupidity, "Oh! She hates it!"

Grrrrrrrrrr! What was with him? Didn't he know when to shut it? So she looked at me inquiringly and I just smiled weakly and said "I guess I'm still a Bangalore girl at heart and I'm here because I'm bound by holy matrimony." She smiled and I couldn't quite read what her smile was trying to say.

In the meanwhile, the EO had started to show his true colours. He was getting all restless and jittery. My son, ladies and gentlemen, was born with ants in his pants. He just can't sit still. He started to pull at the book and when we tried to reproach him, the interviewer gently said, "It's okay. Let him be. It's impossible for them to not be restless for such a long time!" And that was the precise moment that she won me over! So the EO started flipping pages and pointing out all the different things that he knew. Show-off! Or should I say eager beaver? Or just EO being EO?! The interviewer smilingly said, "So now you're teaching me!"

Anyway, before we knew it, it was over. Five minutes, maybe six. That's how long it takes for a little boy's future to be decided upon.

The MIM and I left, feeling proud of our offspring. He was polite, he answered the questions correctly, argued for what he thought was right and didn't misbehave. Yes, he did answer out of turn and turned restless when the attention was not on him anymore, but his father and I have no cause for far as he's concerned that is.

Now regarding the MIM...

Enh, forget it. I live with him 'cause "I'm bound by holy matrimony!" ;p


Still thinking said...

Lol! Hurray! I'm so glad M4 that everything went well and a kudos! pat from me to EO. He's such a sweetheart and oh soooo honest. I love the smile lines I get on my face when I read your posts :)

M4, was it so much of a concern to you abt the cousin and real bro thing?

Mama - Mia said...

phew MM!!

why are these school admission SUCH a big and stressful deal!! why??

am so glad things went super well for EO! yeh toh hona hi tha!!

and i think its ridiculous that someone should remark cannot diffrentiate between own and cosuins!! aarrgghh!!

i would give that woman one phatka!! :(

anyhoo! alls well tha ends well!!



eve's lungs said...

Children are funny ,no? But they love showing off - I know my younger one did - normally monosyllabic she was all words at her first interview - very very chatty !

DotThoughts said...

ROTFL @ the last line. can't believe they interview kids at that age... as to the confidence question, I would have replied "We are confident that only the best get in" sheesh. But glad EO did soo well. Such a smart kid!

pseudo intellectual said...

i think the EO was brilliant. i love his uncomplicated take on life. indeed, why differentiate b/w cousins and so-called "real" siblings?
and btw, you hate kolkata? that's news!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Aah! Many explanations are required I see.

@Still, no my sweet, it doesn't matter a whit to me that he can't differntiate between cousin and own. We're raising them all as 'own' and that's what they'll always brooding warrior (the Nephew), the gallant knight (my EO), my fairy princess (the Niece) and my pixie prince (my YO). One can't help but remember odd/strange things when one is tense or nervous or scared.

and @PI, no! I don't HATE Calcutta, but I do love Bangalore more. And, honest confession time, Mumbai as well. But Calcutta...of course I don't hate it. It's part of me and who I am. It swims in my blood and settles in my bones. You can't ever take it out of me.

Monika,Ansh said...

Fingres crossed here that EO gets through.& as u said, he was such a good boy & you all must be so proud.

That cousin bit where EO volunteered the info was completely hilarious. :)

So when will u know?