“Your school is finally re-opening, beta”!
There was a squeal of delight in response.
“And the good thing is that it will be just 2 days a week, initially - Monday & Thur...”
I couldn't complete.
“Because it will be difficult for you to do full-fledged school after 2 whole years of online classes, you know”.
She was talking like George now, Peppa Pig's little brother, whose “whhyyy”’s could fill up entire episodes.
That was the story at the beginning of March. But the twice-a-week physical school didn't continue for long. Just 3 weeks after the warm-up, it was back to full school.
Just before that, however, in the 2nd week after re-opening, Srishti fell in the playground during PE and injured herself badly: both knees were hurt, so was the right elbow, but the worst injury was near the right eye. It was a close shave! It was so near the eye that applying ointment became an ordeal, as it always threatened to touch the eyelashes and clamp them together. She had developed secondary infection within a day of the injury, but thankfully, a 5-day course of medicine and rest helped heal. And I was more than relieved when she was able to do the first full week of school from the 28th.
It's amazing how quickly one can get back to a routine, even after a gap of 24 months. I say 24 months and not 2 years, because those 2 were stretched out too long - for every one - and the slow unfolding of uncertain months had to be counted.
I had sorely missed our morning ritual of beginning the day together by dropping her to school. Online classes gave us more time in the mornings, no doubt, but our 20 minutes of morning quiet in the car has been sacred to us ever since August 2017 - being the one stable point amidst several tumultuous years with changing schedules for me - and I'm so grateful to get it back. We have also never been happier on Monday mornings...!
Srishti’s school is meticulous about all things academic & it continued to be so all through the pandemic, managing everything with superb efficiency through the LMS online platform. The teachers also worked very hard to give students the maximum they could within the limitations of the online mode.
Some schools had maintained reduced hours for online teaching/learning during the pandemic, and many of us parents preferred that. At least, initially. I remember 2 consecutive academic years (in June 2020 & June 2021) were begun with lengthy discussions between parents and teachers/ administrators on this topic during Orientation day.
Most parents basically wanted less screen time for their children. But it was rightly pointed out that if they didn't have classes, they still spent time on the screen – on the phone, tab, laptop, or TV. In our home, the TV is hardly on and we don't have any tab. But the phone and laptop are in overdrive. I had to buy both a new laptop and phone in 2020; and Srishti, too, had to be given both, because after the first few months it was simply not possible to share the devices.
Her phone has now been confiscated, but the laptop has become a way of life that can’t be wished away. But at least, it will be resorted to only after school hours!
The joy of physical school for the kids is difficult to convey in words. Its best measure for me is the perpetual smile on Srishti’s lips at all hours of the day and night, the greater frequency of her laughter, and the sheer zest with which she starts off her day.
There is also another tiny little happiness tucked in her school bag that adds to the fun of school for her. The second flap of the bag carries her tiffin. It has two small boxes within the bigger box: one contains something a little sweet; the other something a little salty. One of the great delights of her day is to open and see what goodies await her there. She consumes one, she tells me, during the first longer break (20 minutes) in the morning, and the other during the second shorter one (10 minutes) in the afternoon. The main food item seems almost irrelevant.
I just hope the months to come remain sweet and salty for her – adding zing to her renewed school routine!