Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Nursery Blues

Maya’s blog goes out of date quicker than it takes for clothes to dry out here – and that’s pretty rapido, believe you me. I thought that Maya was starting to warm to her nursery but my silly, romantic notions of her wonderful hours spent under a mango tree were zapped towards the end of last week when she announced she didn’t want to go. I thought by the time she got there, she’d be fine but no, her expressions of discontent grew and grew until she was in a tearful state by the time we’d gone through the gate. All the teachers and the principal assured me she’d been absolutely fine each day, it was just the initial five minutes she wasn’t all that happy. And of course there were all the assurances that I’d be called if she didn’t cheer up.

I think we’ve been very lucky up till now, never having any problems with Maya at nursery in England and she was never tearful upon being left there. By the time her session that day was over she was calm but subdued and in hindsight, I don’t think it was the right thing to do, leaving her there when she was clearly not happy. I hoped it was just a blip but the following day, as we approached in the rickshaw poor Maya started howling uncontrollably, saying ‘I can’t want to go to nursery! I can’t wanna go!’ She literally would not even walk through the gate so that was that, there was no way I was going to push it again. I definitely don’t want to give her nursery phobia.

Again, this morning when I mentioned nursery a look of pure fear crossed her face and she said she wasn’t going. Resignedly, I called the principal to say Maya wouldn’t be coming back and she suggested that if Maya was willing, I come in with her and stay as long as I wanted. When I put this to Maya, reluctantly she agreed. It was quite an eye opener, I must admit and I think I now see part of the problem which, I am fairly sure, will not be solved simply by switching nurseries. Similarly to her zoo experience, Maya often finds herself the centre of attention amongst both helpers and children. She just wants to blend in but can’t easily do this. This is one problem, the other being that kids are ‘handled’ slightly differently in India from what we’re used to. I need to be a bit careful what I say here, and I want to stress that there is no right or wrong way, it’s just a cultural difference. But from what I observed, the kids were yanked around quite a bit, NOT in an unkind way but – let me give an example – rather than a helper taking a child’s hand and leading them gently to the sink to wash their hands, instead the child’s wrist is firmly encircled and they are tugged off. It’s the kind of action that would raise serious eyebrows back in England but here it is completely normal. And just because Maya’s mother spent the first 45 minutes with her, doesn’t mean that their behaviour would change in any way. This is just the way things are done. They definitely care about the kids and it’s definitely a creative, fun environment. But coming from England where children can barely be so much as touched these days without arms being thrown up, it’s just a…erm….different way of going about things.

I was really, really glad to have witnessed this though to understand more where Maya’s anxieties concerning nursery have stemmed from. Maya doesn’t like being man-handled in this way or being fawned over. As I’ve mentioned countless times, she likes and needs her personal space. The staff must think I am a ridiculous, over-protective mother but I really don’t care about that and I told them that Maya was a sensitive, independent little girl and they need to respect her space if she’s to be happy. Lots of head nodding ensued and who knows if they’ll take note, but the fact is, I’ll know if they don’t as Maya’s desire to stay away from nursery will continue and ultimately, she’ll have to stop going. It’s going to be very much a case of taking one day at a time but I’m pleased to say that when I went to pick her up at the end of the morning, she was in good spirits and even said she wanted to go back tomorrow.

Maya’s needs come first. 100%. As well as wanting her to have fun and to interact with other children, I dearly hope that things get better for her on the nursery front for another, entirely selfish reason: this is that the thought of having to entertain her (Lily’s so much easier) for the entire day is completely daunting. That probably sounds a bit pathetic, but I’m just being honest. It’s not something that’s ever been an issue before but here in the heat, where a) we can’t do much outside between 10am and 5pm b)we can’t go too far in a rickshaw because of the pollution, c) we risk our lives each time we cross the roads (I’ve got used to it, but I’m really not kidding) and d) I am sometimes very under-slept (yes, that old demon still raises it’s head) and insomnia does not mix well with 35 degrees heat and two dependent children. Oh yes, there’s an e) too – I’m chomping at the bit to start my novel! I’ve been writing bits and pieces here and there in grabbed ten minute slots. But anyway, enough ranting and moaning. I’m pretty tired today so not feeling fully positive but it will all be absolutely fine, I know it will. As soon as Maya feels more settled, that will help my own peace of mind. So fingers crossed for tomorrow and let’s hope the mention of nursery doesn’t send her hot-footing to her bedroom followed by sobs and door slamming. She is such a teenager already!


  1. This sounds like quite a dilemma for you. Hope it resolves. Good luck with the novel writing! You have plenty of material ...

  2. This sounds really difficult for you, and for Maya and not easy to resolve. Overall though it sounds as though things are going well for you all. We really enjoy these frequent updates to hear what is happening. R&J