Sandeep and I don’t speak a common Indian language. My Hindi is shameful, and his Malayalam sounds to me like a fluent string of gargling but he insists it’s rudamentary. Since we’ll be travelling in and out of Kerala for two months, we figured we’d use the base to offer the kids a social network and an opportunity to learn Malayalam.
Sandeep and I have been meeting interesting people and through cyberspace have managed to maintain contact with our friends. As parents, we now give Ava and Kayan undivided attention. Despite this, we could tell that Ava particularly yearned for kiddie contact. I suppose we all need our own peer group to talk, play and bounce of the walls with. Thus far we’ve been so nomadic, it’s been hard for her to establish any friendships. It breaks my heart to hear her ask, “Do you think she’ll be my friend?” about every girl her age we see on our trip.
Enter Lullabies Montessori School and Day Care, which is up the hill from Sandeep’s parents. Our casual decision to enroll the kids was a stark contrast to the agonizing deliberations we went through for New York City pre-school aplications. We figured we didn’t know the nuances of Indian pre-schools well enough to research the matter, and for just two months, all we cared about was a safe environment and happy peers. The owner and teacher, Smita, was warm in her welcome and flexible in accommodating us for the short period.
When we told Ava that she was going to school this morning, she got herself ready for the first time. She changed her clothes, brushed her teeth, packed her Dora backback, and fed herself the entire bowl of oatmeal. Her excitement was so focused, this was the calmest morning we’ve had on our trip thus far.
Upon walking into the open air classroom, Ava went straight up to the row of kids and took a seat. Kayan, who hasn’t been more than a few feet away from her for over two months, followed right behind. Despite empty seats he attempted to sit on Ava’s lap. He must have needed more reassurance than she at being introduced to new faces. Ava firmly said, ‘Kayan, go sit in the green chair over their.” She’s gotten quite used to bossing him around. Naturally, he listened.
They immediately seemed to be in their own element and we left feeling happy and sad to be not needed by them for the first time in over two months. When we arrived for the 12:30 pick-up, both kids protested about leaving school and on the way home happily sang a newly learnt Malayalam song.
I’ve written before about how the kids are being educated without formal schooling, but we feel good that they now have an opportunity to mingle with their own peers. If that comes with some formal education, we’re not opposed.