Monday, July 1, 2013

First parent-teacher meeting

Parent-teacher meeting. The concept itself amused me. Yes, I am the kind of parent who gets amused by things that most parents feel are as important as pink silk shirts, if not more. (Pink silk shirts are important. Read this if you don’t believe me.)

So here I was standing outside Ri’s playschool with him, waiting to be called in.

We were finally summoned inside. A young lady – the teacher was waiting for us. I sat with a polite nod. Pause.

Pauses normally cause me great discomfort due to my lack of ability at making small conversation.

My only point of soothe then was watching Ri being extremely at home in the surrounding. He straight walked up to her, hugged her and said, “Baba aaj Rihu ke boke che.” (I got a scolding from Baba today.)

The nice lady gave me smile at that and said, “Your son seems to have settled in fine.”

Was it my imagination or did she really stress on the ‘seems’?

“I am glad,” I replied. “He does throw a tantrum at home about not going to school, nonetheless.” I said.

“Oh, all the children do that.” she replied. “It’s a matter of time, he will be alright.”

I nodded and smiled back.

She showed me a workbook then. “This is his book,” she said.

It was one of those colouring and puzzle books. I flipped the pages and was quite surprised to see that it was quite well coloured. There were some accurate match the followings as well.

“He has done them all,” she said.

“The match the figures as well,” I asked.

“Yes. All by himself.” She replied.

That did astonish me a bit. While Ri is a smart kid and can identify colours, letters and numbers, he surely does not have the hand coordination to draw a straight line between two figures to match them.

I stared back at the lady with a probing look. “Well, we do help him out a bit,” she said apparently shuffling on her feet.

I smiled.

“Everything else is great about Ri,” she said, “Except one little problem.”

I looked at her with raised eyebrows.

“He refuses to speak in English,” she said.

“Erm... yes, he has multilingual exposure. He is exposed to Hindi and English by us, his parents.  And there is bit of Marathi from his grandparents – my parents. But the maximum time he spends is with his grandmother and his baby-sitter. And hence, the presentation to Bengali is the highest.” I said. “I am sure he will learn with time.” I added.

“He will have a problem getting into a regular school,” she argued. “When they ask him question and he does not answer them back in English, it will be difficult.” She added further.

I kept quite. I did not want to be the disagreeing parent. I know for sure though, that schools do not question children anymore for admissions. They interview the parents. So, I knew that it was not a valid argument.

“Let me give you an example,” she said. When we showed him a picture of a brinjal and told him that this was an egg plant. He just refused. He insisted that it was a begoon. (Begoon is brinjal in Bengali)”

I suppressed a smile but I guess the lady noticed my smirk. That probably infuriated her a bit.

She exclaimed with added zest, “Let me tell you one more incident. We showed him a cat and asked Ri, “what is this?” He replied, “Myaao!” We said, “No, it is a cat”. He again refused and insisted that it was a Myaao.”

Ri, who was by then sitting next to me, listening to the conversation, started saying Myaao Myaao repeatedly.

The lady seemed obviously irritated at that. I thanked her; bid her good bye and rushed out of the room with Ri.

I knew had I stayed any longer the nice lady would probably have ended up shrieking – Your son is a Myaaoist. Your son is a Myaaoist.


PS. Ri understands English. I regularly read out books in English to him. We also speak to him in English. I am quite sure it’s just a matter of time before he starts speaking the language himself.

PPS. Once home, I drew a set of matching figures and numbers. He answered accurately but could not draw a straight line to join the matched together.


This post was crossposted here.










  1. Once when I went to pick up Rihu probably the same teacher called me and said something about the "meaow" thingie. I was not even bothered to listen to what she said once I understood she was saying that Rihu needs to learn more English for his admission to some stupid jazzy school.
    Yeah he is once smart, logical and hilarious kid

    1. Hey Fugro,
      How abt. replying with a "Wow... bow-wow" for any nice things she says, or buzzing "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm"... at other comments she makes? Tell her we are an Onomatopoeic family (I have a feeling, she'll need to look it up) :P

    2. 'Meaow! That's an interersting point! Listening to the feedback makes my heart goes Hmmmmmmmmmmmm Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!' (This reply will be accompanied by a constant nod of my head which will be tilted at a 70 degree angle)
      What say?

  2. Give it some time. Have you ever come across an individual who knows English but refuses to speak it on a permanent basis? No, right?

    1. I know. I am not worried about it, just amused.

    2. I did come across some such people: The French. They understand everything, but stubbornly refuse to respond in English :D

    3. Which is why I added the 'on a permanent basis' bit, Mlvk. :)

  3. Hehe.. I had a problem with understanding and assigning gender to Western names. My dad had argued that they should use Indian names in the text books. My principal could never get her point across after that debate!

    1. That sure was a perfect arguement. :D

  4. A quick guide to PTA small talk:
    Just nod your head wisely at all her comments, and go "Hmmmm... Ahh! OK!". Then, say 'You know, actually...' (always a good starter for small talk in India)... tell her of your 'plans' to make him the international diplomatic representative for Bengali and Marathi at the United Nations Linguistics Society in Bruges (I just made that up..use your imagination :P ). Ask her casually, if she knows of any other students who plan to appear for the Indian Linguistics Olympiads? Tell her you want to create a study group for such kids, and she can pass on the message to other interested parents. (Suppress the smirk! Look earnest and wide-eyed!)
    Talk abt. pioneering esoteric education in India, till she says you are out of time, and it's the turn for the next set of parents.

    1. :D :D :D I am definitely doing that next meeting.

    2. I am in for the next meeting then. Malice, can I fly you over for the meeting as well? Such an oppurtunity shouldn't be missed, right. We can record the teacher's reactions in a hidden camera and post in on youtube. It will go bezerk

  5. only one mistake, a typo that typosaurus noticed, in the main body of the text "he doesn't have the hand coordination the" otherwise the piece is very clean, not at all disturbing though it actually deals with big issues, there was a lecturer in our college who didn't know that George Orwell wrote The Animal Farm, and it was she who always made a fuss about our so-called inability to answer her silly questions in English, later at JU I found out that our stalwart teachers did not care a bit if you were not that good at answering in a particular language, in fact not knowing Tagore, Jibanananda Dash or Sukumar Roy was considered a sacrilege, I consider Rihu to be extremely fortunate, he will have access to classics written in as many as four great languages - Marathi, Bangla, Hindi and English

  6. Haha that was one Myaao Myaao post... Actually you should have told back the lady that it's your job to teach him English :) I'm sure there would be more shuffling of feet then :) Nice one :)

  7. To be honest, it's her job to be patient and understanding. The psychology of children are not meant to make a particular language their priority, like us adults. I hope she learns some patience and stop blaming Ri.

    BTW, "Lack of ability at making small conversation"- Me,just the same! Hahaha

    1. I agree, Dhara. They learn when the time is right.

      On the "small conversation bit" I am sure, like me, you do not really mind it too much. :D

  8. Really this fuss about english... by three you are expected to strike up a conversation in a foreign language... we have high expectations from kids..i see my daughter now (going to be four) sometimes trying hard to frame sentence in english...being in delhi she knows quite a bit of hindi as well.. and Bengali being spoken at home...tough times for kids

    1. Yes, I fear the kids will just lose the regional touch.

  9. soma i agree with u imagine a 3rd language thrusted on them ..splcy parents like us ...who live in mum bt dont knw marathi ...i just dont know what my son will do nxt yr ...his school has finished a all the vowels in 1 week ...


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