-Telugu Original by Dr K.Geeta
-English Translation by V.Vijaya Kumar
Alicia’s youngest daughter Maria phoned in the morning.
“Here’s a free class on “Child care” from a reputed college on the elementary school campus. Will you come too?”
“Child care You mean?” I curiously asked.
“It’s a qualification for some jobs in this country, as well as for parenting.” She said.
“I came from a country where it was unknown that one must take a course in parenting children, it’s quite interesting,” I said. Indeed, the last word caught my attention.
“I’m just getting there to grab more information about it,” She said.
It’s a five-week free course from six in the evening to seven and a half in the evening, not a week, certificates are not given, but it seems it’s introductory to the courses at that college.
“Why did you come to this course?” The instructor asked us in the first-day class.
Almost everyone answered, “it’s for employment”.
I said, “I came here to learn about childcare.”
The teacher detailed before what employment opportunities the qualified will have a chance doing such courses.
“You know, these courses are a prerequisite for teaching jobs in most schools and colleges here. If you are qualified for certification you may start a registered school like a home business if not willing to join a job. If you have graduated and experienced two years, you may run a grand pre-school cum Day Care Center. If you qualify with a PG and Ph.D., you can be an instructor for these courses, as I started myself once,” she said, sipping coffee.
We learn how we should respond to the behavior of the growing babies during those five weeks. We understand the attitudes of children and deal with them in various situations by holding conferences on the subject. It was a great surprise for me to learn about sharing experiences and responding in the right way to the right context, one by one. The thought of how I was raising Nidhi without knowing all of this, made me feel ashamed of the way I had behaved when the kid had annoyed me so far.
Respect for these classes has grown a great deal. The word “Patience”, especially in child-rearing, has echoed in my ears for five weeks.
“I want to get into college and at least get certified in a childcare course,” I said with Surya. I added, “It’s not very expensive. I inquired. This is a community college”
Surya said, “That’s not what I’m thinking. What is the use of this course for you?
“It would be nice if you could learn along with me,” I said.
He looked at me suspiciously for a moment, as if something felt unusual.
Not caring at his suspicious looks I said, “Yes! It’s not as easy as to bring up children as we give birth, we must learn how to bring them up. even if the jobs through these courses do not apply to us, you and I need to join in to learn skills in parenting”
Grabbing Nidhi nearer to him he said,” Then who will take care of my Nidhi dear when both left her at home joining classes?”
But is parenting hard enough to learn in college?”
“That’s what I thought in my first class. Yet, it’s great to know how a child must be grown and what as parents we do with patience. These classes are required to identify our faults, Surya, I want to know as much as I can in this respect” I said.
He could not deny the honesty in my words and so he said, “Anyway, if you love it, you may go ahead with your leisure, attending evening classes. I’ll come from the office early and look after Nidhi” He said sympathetically.
Community colleges offer only two years of Associate Degree. For another two years, we transfer to other degree colleges to complete a total of four years’ Degree. For me, it’s the best place to do certification courses.
Though it was a community college, students are greatly stuffed here. The joining process has several steps until creating an account for us. We wait for an hour in line for counseling after taking an appointment, again waiting in line with the application form, creating an account by ourselves without help, certificate, Visa status, etc., check, final payment of the fee. All this took two days for me to wind up these formalities.
Leaving Nidhi at home with Surya and going to classes is a bit painful to me, but I don’t know how time goes when I was in the class. Learning started to feel like a stream of excitement. Lessons in the books are no way memorized for hours here in this system or not mugged up to attend final exams once a year.
Especially in the childcare classes here, the teachers are eager to find out everyday life events similar to the ones in the textbook, making us discuss each subject in groups and do interesting projects, allot weekly assignments, and prioritize class participation daily. Though the assignments had page to page monotonous typing, hours of research on each subject, local schools visit for projects, interviews with familiar families, and the tireless work of preparing reports, by the end of the semester we came out of the classroom with a lot of learned feelings. I liked this educational approach.
Above all, especially after each class, Surya seems to have noticed changes in the way I talk with Nidhi and cares about her. On two or three occasions I noticed him looking at me with admiration.
* * *
We got a call from India that Sunday from Surya’s house, promoting a disturbance between us. We both fought on the issue and argued about it. What I know is an arbitrary solution to redirect the mind and focus on something else.
Suffering in my mind made me restless. I came up with an assignment to overcome it and started doing it, suddenly Nidhi came to me and started pulling my hand. I felt disgusted as I am already struggling to divert my mind.
I would have screamed out in normal conditions, but suddenly I was reminded of something. “The feelings in our minds are incomprehensible to children. Only the expressions we point up can be understood.”
I remembered the words of the instructor in our class.
“What my Dear!” I said as calmly as possible.
“Give me all the toys that came as gifts for my birthday, I wish to play”
Nidhi dashed me with her proposal.
“I kept everything in Cupboard, Not now, I’m at work,” I said coolly.
The argument began, “I just want to play it all now, so you give me at once, aren’t they for me playing? Or just to hide?” Nidhi was adamant.
“I am not feeling well Nidhi dear! Please, don’t insist” I said.
“Would you have time to spare in front of a computer? Gosh!” She screamed impatiently.
My head started reeling with a headache.
I was impatient and started to struggle with stopping my anger.
“Go without saying anything now, I won’t give toys now, not even tomorrow,” I added strongly.
She went to the next room and complained, “Dad! Look, Mom hid all my birthday gifts and did not give them to me.”
He rushed in screaming, “I told you a hundred times not to make the baby cry when I was at work. What will you do with those toys not allowing her to play? Is it what you learned in child care classes?”
I was overwhelmed with grief and broken.
I know how the situation changes no matter what I say. I sat in silence without distracting myself from the laptop. I do not like to see all the mess that is likely to happen when Surya gives the toys to Nidhi, each doll ripped out from the packs to shreds and watching at me vainly.
“It would have been nice if Surya hadn’t given all the toys away to her, or even if he had left the issue unattended there. I kept everything safe above that it would be a surprise for a child to play with a new toy every day.” I said Soumya.
Soumya has children older than Nidhi.
“Priya, raising children in this country is like a feat on the razor’s edge!
Nidhi is still a small kid. My daughter in the seventh standard believes I do not know anything. Her words pinch me sharply”
When I proposed my daughter to get back home a day before from the park, saying
“Let’s go. It’s time…”
“Gosh… stop it, Mom… Always…Home…home!”
On our way back, she turned on some chaotic music on my mobile.
What is this? I screamed.
At that moment the whole road was jammed with traffic as the signal stopped working. As if I didn’t know anything about the music of this country, She said, “It’s called music” sarcastically.
Once, when I was going to ask something about her marks in maths, “Aha …. say what is Mean, Median, Mode?” she crossed me bluntly screaming at me, “Just shut up mom, don’t show me your Indian parenting,” she said disgustedly.
I got on my nerves and controlled it by gritting my teeth. I’m going to break my head now and then. We should be victims of High pressure very soon growing these kids up! We should not reprimand, we should not be harsh with these in this nation! They take advantage of this and will not count our words. Children are not afraid of the little timeouts we give them when they reach ten”
“I do not understand what we should do then! I am taking child care courses to correct my behavior with Nidhi. But we don’t know how these children are to be corrected when they are arrogant and rude in such a way! Nidhi wasn’t afraid of Time Out right now. When we came here, I wanted our children to follow the etiquette of this place using prefixes and suffixes in the beginning and at the end of sentences!”
“There is no such thing as respect for parents in the community here. The children here learn a lot from the children around them. That’s why, what we’ve made them learn at home goes awry, but they’re coming up with nothing but rebellion. “Soumya sighed.
“Dad! I’m learning HTML in school!” Nidhi hilariously said with Surya.
“Wow! It’s great! What did they say? I curiously asked.
“You can not understand,” Nidhi said rudely!
Surya laughed at me.
“You believe a Software engineer knows everything in this world, so daddy! Mommy doesn’t know because She always seems to be cooking at home. Is that your idea? There is no harm in not learning HTML but you should know how to behave with elders. I have special classes for you from tomorrow” I said with Nidhi and turned to Surya saying,
“We must learn ourselves and act on our own, how a parent should behave while other is dealing with a child, nobody will make us learn”
hoping that my words were audible to Surya.
A post graduate in English literature and language and in Economics. A few of my translations were published. I translated the poems of Dr. Andesri , Denchanala, Ayila Saida Chary and Urmila from Telugu to English. I write articles and reviews to magazines and news papers. To the field of poetry I am rather a new face.