Another nice thing that the kids’ school has, is this concept of a home visit. Once a year (I think) the Montessori kids get to drop in to a classmate’s home. I don’t think the youngest kids (M1) get to go – at least, I don’t remember Mrini and Tara going for this last year – but this year their home visit happened yesterday.
I must admit it gave me a bit of a heartattack to start with. I’d just driven in to my office parking lot and was walking to the elevator when my phone rang. It was their class teacher. I immediately stopped in my tracks and started thinking how long it would take to get to their school and also wondering what could possibly have gone wrong in the ten minutes or so since Amit dropped them in school. It was such a relief to know that I was just being informed that they would be going on a home visit and that the teacher and forgotten to tell Amit, so she decided to call me! At that point, I would have agreed to a home visit at the ends of the earth. (When did I become such a panicky mom? But, in my defense, an unexpected call from the class teacher can only ever be bad news, right?)
As it happened, I’d made chocolate cake on Wednesday and the kids were carrying the remains of it in their snack boxes that day. That was a pity. We usually give them such terribly boring (I mean, healthy) snacks that I can only imagine they are not exactly the cynosure of all eyes when they open their snack boxes in school. I routinely took two biscuits – and the same two biscuits – to school for almost my entire school life. Even back then, Krackjack was not something kids got excited about. There was usually a crowd around those kids who brought parathas, sometimes smothered in jam and sugar. So I’ve had plenty of experience of being the kid with the least exciting snack box. While I can’t give my girls exciting (sugary, fried, or otherwise unhealthy) snacks everyday, I can at least give them a bit of cake once a year or so. I’d even give them homemade cake more often, except I usually bake on the weekend so there’s nothing left by the time school comes around again.
Amit told me that when he went to drop them at school yesterday evening, there was a boy standing at the door of their class. Apparently Tara went straight to him and said, “I brought cake. I won’t give you.” To which the boy, without missing a beat, replied, “I got sauce. I won’t give you.”
I wonder what eventually came of that little verbal exchange!
When I met the girls at daycare yesterday evening, another entertaining exchange took place.
T: I finished my snack! I ate it in the van.
Me: Did you share it with your friends?
T: I only shared it with Ayodhana (it must be Arodhana, or maybe even Aradhana, but Ayodhana is what both the kids say).
M: I didn’t eat my snack. I’ll eat it when I get home.
At this point, Mrini, who had been in my arms, gave an indignant shout and jumped out of my arms. Tara had made a beeline for Mrini’s school bag and was now quickly opening Mrini’s snack box! Mrini raced over, grabbed her snack box, went and showed off the cake to the daycare coordinator, offered her a piece, then packed it up quickly before she could take any. Tara pulled a small box of shiny stuff out of her school bag.
T: I got toys! You didn’t get toys! Sivam threw your toys out of the window.
M: I got cake. I won’t share with you.
T: I don’t want! I got toys.
At this point, I have to explain that my girls are not really as selfish as these verbal duets make them seem. Tara usually happily gives away upto 80% of her kingdom, even if it is chocolate cake and even if it is to Mrini (and Amit and me) and even if her recipients have already finished their own share of the cake. Mrini is a little more measured in the quantities she gives, but, with a little persuasion, she does give almost as cheerfully as Tara. But of course, nothing beats the sheer childish delight of the chant: “I got cake. I won’t give you.”
A little later, we managed to all get in the car and start the drive home. Slowly, they disclosed various disjointed bits of information about their home visit.
- We went in a yellow van. There were lots of kids. (They proceeded to name several classmates. They also told me which teachers accompanied them.)
- The seniors didn’t come. They went to (another kid’s) home. (Seniors refers to M3 kids.)
- Na didn’t come. He was absent.
- Ni didn’t come, she’s a baby. (Baby refers to the M1 kids; so apparently M1 kids don’t get to go.)
I asked if they went to a house or an apartment. Unsurprisingly, the girls didn’t know the difference. I asked if there was a garden, like we had. Tara said, “We have a garden? Where?” So then I asked if they went in a lift.
- T: No.
- M: Yes, we went in a lift. The number was 8. (I presume this means that R’s home is on the eighth floor.)
- R’s sister was home. She opened the door.
- T: Then R said a big Hiiiiiiiiiiiii. Like that.
- R’s Mama and Papa and Didi were there.
(I tried to ask about R’s home – living room, dining room, verandah, the furniture and so on, but I didn’t get much. Tara made a funny face and asked “What’s that?” when I asked about a dining room! I gather R has a TV, which was off, and there was a pink cycle and a multicoloured car in the veranda, which Mrini drove “of course”.)
- We had juice!
- And there was pani puri.
- And bread and Maggi.
- And halwa. (But maybe not sooji halwa.)
- So many plates were on the floor.
- T: I picked up a plate because somebody dropped her halwa. But I didn’t help to clean up the halwa.
- We didn’t eat anything.
- T: I didn’t take a plate because Na didn’t have a plate also.
- When we got back to school, we took our bags and went in the blue van (to daycare).
Well, they seem to have had fun. I’m sure they ate something, despite their loud disclaimers. And we all got a bite of the surviving chocolate cake at home yesterday evening, despite Mrini’s loud protestations earlier. And they both played with Tara’s toy for all of five minutes before losing interest in it completely and totally. And I got something to write about, albeit vicariously.