Academic supremacy, it doesn't start in school.9:50 AM
Being a class topper is the ultimate, hell no, the ONLY goal. Kids go to tuition, math camps and coaching to get that elusive shot at the first place. Never mind that there can only be one lucky soul sitting in that spot.
From it all came the idea that Indian schools are the culprit to blam for all this madness. School are competitive they say...
No offence, but I have an entirely different theory as of where this competitive madness starts. I spent the last 6 years of my life on that turf. It's not the schools, it's the parents.
They call it the mommy wars (because dads seem thankfully more immune to it). It starts the moment you have pushed your precious bundle of joy into this world. They come at you with seemingly innocent questions such as "What was her birth weight?" Only to retort theirs was bigger and taller than yours when you offer your answer. As if there was a tacit race as to who could give birth to the biggest baby out there. It is followed by the breastfeeding vs bottle war. The who crawled at the earliest age competition. Who said their first word first, and then the competition about the degree of difficulty of the first word...a sure indicator of intelligence. Smart babies say "Gleba" as their first word, the dumb one say Dog or Cat.
Once the physical milestones have been hit and all the tiny tots are standing firm on those two legs and starting to talk beyond "gleba" or "dog". Comes the inevitable war on the alphabet. If Chotu Kumar learned his ABC at age 2 and yours is 18 months old you are already a looser. Run to the nearest toy store, buy all the brainy baby toys, and flash cards. Burn that old play mat that has only sheeps and clowns on it and replace it with a ABC mat (yes there is such a thing!) No toddler will go far in life if they haven't mastered the ABC before they figured out it was fun to chase the dog or clog the toilet with stuffed animals.
The mantra is ABC and 123, rinse and repeat until your tots gets sick of it. Then it will be time to quiz them about fruits, vegetables, living things and non living thing while you push them on the swing (yes they need to master these before they figured out how to swing on their own).
It is your duty to compensate for the serious lack of judgement you had deciding not to attend that "Algebra for expecting moms" class that came highly recommended. Face it if you didn't rehash your Square root of X while craving cheese you doomed your unborn child for an eternity its of being stupid...baaaad mommy!
The playground has become a real war zone people! A turf on which mothers (more than fathers) will compare notes, and argue the merit of Baby Eistein over Abacus classes and spend all their energy to quiz their kids on nursery rhymes for the benefit of the other moms more than their kids. Then there is the recipe exchange segment, where you learn how to make "nutrient enhanced" smart Upma or Poha and learn the art of "Designer Idli". You know the ones where you transform them into woodland creatures and smiley faces so your kid will eat them and become smarter because of the added carrots in them. Yeah these!
While the playground is exhausting don't think it stops there. As soon as you leave it with your head buzzing trying to separate your Einstein Idli from your Designer Baby (wait did I mix it up???) it becomes time for your whatsapp to buzz in your pocket.
Because if you have school going kids (yes even playschool) you will be kindly added to the class's group. Groups in which moms all freak out about missed assignments, homeworks and compare notes as to what the kid will go dressed at the next day.
This is how I along with other regular normal moms all got out to shame on a last minute assignment from the school recently:
Kindly dress your child as a fruit, and make them practice a few lines in Hindi about the fruit by Friday. Do not rent costume, they must be homemade.
Never mind the note came on a Wednesday afternoon.
Sane parents run to the nearest store to buy something red or yellow if they don't already have it, then print a fruit clipart off Google image search. And make their kids remember to say things like "Mein Strawberry hoon" "Strawberry lal, mithi aur chota hai". You know because they are 6 years old for Pete's sake!
Overzealous parents will forgo sleep, cut two giant mangoes out of cardboard and mount them on, and make a matching head piece. Then they will calligraphy "Aam" on the mango in perfect Devnagari script...You know just in case anybody will fail to understand that it is indeed a mango.
Then they will make a miniature version of the big mango as a sign on which they will pen a lengthy poem about Aam in Devnagari script. And then snap a picture of their kid wearing it right before boarding the school bus and post it on whatsapp at 7.30 am on Friday so that all of us clipart printing idiots can go and compliment her on her wonderful work. Except none of us did, we were all in desperate need of tea or coffee before tackling other duties.
With parents all too eager to please and prove they are the best and their progeny the most uniquely perfectly shaped snowflake in the whole universe you cannot blame schools for thinking that 6 years old should all be enrolled in Spelling Bee coaching, build a robot camp or the make biofuel out of potato peel and leftover "brainy Upma" workshop.
Thanks to parents who feel compelled to drill their kids about the next year's curriculum during the Summer break, the school are under the wrong impression that kids can do more than what they thought initially. Never mind that the regular normal kids who spend their vacation break playing outdoors and eating non brainy food are going to be the ones looking like total idiots once back to school.
Schools are only competitive because the parents are going crazy.
So, do yourself, your kids and possibly humanity a favour:
Kill whatsapp, burn the flash cards, shred that alphabet playmat and leave those school books in the shelves during holidays. Make boring idli and non brainy Poha and simply simply let your kids play free, you'll be surprised at what they can do.
Beside you'll salvage your own sanity in the process. Life is much too short for all that crap anyway.