In my previous post I had declared, with a lot of confidence, that my two year old would scream her way through the school interaction she had today for getting admission into the toddler group of this sought after school that I have my eyes set on.
I am happy to say that I could not have been more wrong. No qualms admitting it, there are times when you want to be wrong and this was one of them.
That said, I must add, since no one else will, that I had somewhat of a hand to play in the good behaviour. The truth is that she hates the mention of school and whenever she sees a crowd, she wants to run the other way, so I was dreading this day, convinced that she’d not co-operate. But, I decided I had to deal with it, instead of wishing it away. And it worked.
In the morning, she realized, from the general have-to-leave-on-time atmosphere around the house at such an early hour, that all was not normal. First, she looked at me and said “Mama, I don’t want to go to the doctor”. Then, when she was assured that that was not where we would be heading, she declared that she didn’t want to go for a party either. Again, I reassured her, while trying to speed things up. But she was confused, and worried, and wanted an answer. I had decided to tell her in the car, so I somehow distracted her then.
When we sat in the car, she wanted her answer. So I told her, very patiently patting her head and saying that we were going to a place (I was still afraid to use the word school, so I was deliberately vague about what exactly it was) where there would be lots of kids and people and that she’d be asked some questions. At first she didn’t like the idea, and said “no, there won’t be lots of people“. But, I explained to her that there was nothing to be afraid of, that I’d be there with her throughout and not leave her. It was strange, but for the first time I felt that she was growing up and understanding every word I said, every little word. She nodded and blinked her large pretty eyes and said “then we’ll go home?”. Her tone had such optimism, that it felt more like a statement than a question, like she was telling herself that once it was over, we’d go home.
I said : “yes baby, we’ll go home” , and then I added something that psychologists may or may not approve of, depending on which side of the reward theory there are on. I told her that if she’d not cry and play around, I’d take her to the slide and play area in the mall, somewhere she loves going.
I don’t know if it was that or something else, but she was such a gem throughout that I was speechless. I’d warned the teachers about her taciturn behaviour so they’d be prepared. But when she got to the room, she chatted and laughed while I was asked polite questions about her hobbies, about my husband’s long working hours, about my decision to quit work- the stuff schools love to query you about, judging and slotting you all the while.
And while I may have done ok, it was my daughter who deserved to be patted. It may not seem like much, but for her, it was a big deal to have interacted the way she did.
It made me think about how we underestimate our children sometimes. I had been so convinced that she’d want to run away from the situation that I was trying to avoid talking about it to her, little realizing that all that mysterious behaviour was only making her more suspicious. All I had to do was tell her straight, which I usually do, and she’d come around to it.
Of course, a little carrot never hurt, so I dangled it! And it worked.
Now for the results.