Parents' homeworks

12:15 PM

When you have a child in school, you know that sooner or later, they will not be satisfied enough to just give them homeworks. they will want to test your skill as a parent. They can't really call them homework though, that would not be proper. So instead they call these special events. Events for which your kid will have to produce something that has been made with parental supervision by the parents. All school have them, and pre-primary classes are especially fond of them. This is something you simply cannot escape, it is your parental duty. There is dress in blue, white, yellow, learn the colours you see. Those are easy to pull, just make sure to have an outfit in ever possible colour in your wardrobe at the start of the academic year. But that is not enough, you have to be prepared for a succession of special days that will see you send your kid dressed as a community helper, mom or dad, a national leader, in tricolour, a cricketer, an animal, an insect, a fish, a magician, a witch, a monster, in ethnic Indian wear, an athlete, as what they aspire to be when they grow up. And just when you thought dress up days were enough, there are all the show and tell days. Bring a specific fruit, a stuffed animal, your favourite toy, a printout of one thing or another, a family phot, a best friend photo, a couple of chocolates, a few sweets, a rakhi, modelling clay, books, crayons. In all cases you have to sit your child home to teach them a few line about what they are wearing, or teach them a Hindi poem that even after a lot of repeating will end up sounding as "mumble, jumble, na vid ya Kaput" (true story). Yes parents, they want you involved, and it often feels like they are testing your knowledge, skills and how much of a Mc Gyver actually reside inside you!

You end up catching up on the drill quickly though. You stock up on craft paper, paint, glue, stickers, you make sure the wardrobe has enough options to pull out a costume of one kind or another, you stock up your printer with paper and colour cartridge, and know Google will be your best friend forever. That's what I did.

And, that is when the school threw me a curve ball!

"Dress in an international costume and teach your child to speak about the country he/she represent"

Dang! Dammit! Anything but that! No!!!!!! I am not ready, I have nothing to pull a traditional costume you people! And now would be the time to let you all know that in Ishita's school they ask parents NOT to rent fancy dress, they want parents to make these from what they have at home on hand. Or buy something to make it. And sure, we all have a fancy international costume in our kids wardrobe! Silly me, didn't see it coming. An entire rainbow in the wardrobe and 4 Indian ethnic outfit and nothing to pull an international ethnic outfit? This is one of these time Google comes to the rescue, except that because Internet is widely tinted with some American culture, it yielded nothing in this case. You see, it seems that in US it has become politically incorrect to dress up your kids in the national costume of another country for Halloween, a couple of nincompoop even said it was racist to do so. So because they feel it is their moral duty to speak for the entire world on what is appropriate or not and what cultures not their own should be offended by, Pinterest and Google will give you nothing. No variation of "children international costume will" yield much. Too bad that a school frequented by Indian kids planned a fun day of dress up to teach the kids that theirs are other nations and culture than their own!

Time to turn to my friends on Facebook. They were useful, I got to learn how to make a toga out a white bed sheet to be a pretend Greek goddess, how to make a Native American dress out of a brown pillow case among others. they were good ideas, except that bed sheet sets sold in India are rarely white, and all the used and ready to sacrifice bed linen I have comes in funky colours. I have a black kimono wrap top in my size, but no amount of pinning, belting and adjusting ended up making her look as anything but a fancy potato sack. So that idea had to go as quickly as it came. It left me with there somewhat doable options to explore:

1) Take the withe frilly dress they made me buy for sports day the year before and manage to Swissify it with enough red ribbons and white crosses and edelweiss to pass as Swiss. Good idea except it was pouring cats and dogs, and I had no red anything to trim the dress with to make it ethnic, forget it, no ribbon anything in any colours but a hot pink funky one. Plus teaching her about Switzerland other than " This is where mommy come from and they eat cheese and have snow" felt daunting on such short notice.

2) She has a long sleeved t-shirt that vaguely looks like a cheerleader outfit, could pretend she is American and give her some pom-poms made of paper. Not bad, just as I was getting ready ton consider it, I remembered she was wearing it on Thursday morning as I was thinking about it, and right on cue sent some yogurt on it! Bam option gone, noway it would dry in 24 hours if I hand washed it right away. Plus she has no connection to American culture, knows nothing about it, and teaching her something constructive enough to say was a bit scary...we don't want a repeat of "mumble, jumble na kaput" here.

3) Dress her in her pink t-shirt with Pandas doing karate on it, make a paper Chinese hat and a hand fan and sending her saying she is representing China. That was the easiest, because she also knows China has pandas, that they eat noodles and rice with chopsticks and that Papa went to China recently...fair enough

You guessed it, we went with the funky Chinese option. And as I type this, she has been sent to school by bus. The hat blew off her head while we were waiting leading me to a quick fix on the strap and telling her to hold it in her hand and ask the teacher to put it back on her head in a hurry as the bus approached. the instant she was inside it started pouring cats and dogs out of nowhere, so right now, I have no idea if the hat ever made it to school dry, if at all...could they at least hold the crazy costume ideas until AFTER the monsoon is over, when parents can go shopping last minute or send paper craft that will not reach the classroom soggy and destroyed? Needless to say I am scared to think about what comes in store for the rest of the academic year when it comes to Parents Homeworks.

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  1. apple3:13 PM

    In our times the schools were not so demanding. The annual days were drab events with PT exercises. As far as costumes are concerned, I remember we stiched golden ribbons to the edges of our half pants to create a shining efffect, or was it green, I don't remember. School had a ways to extract money from parents but they were not so creative in those days.
    Schools were stricly for studies. It was an idea firmly etched in the minds of both the teachers and students. Today children have so many activities. Schools are shimmering buildings of glass. There is prosperity. It is good time to be a child in India and a busy time for parents.

    I have read many articles wherein it is written that Asian parents in western countries put their children through extra classes after schools because they find American curriculam too light for their children. Maths classes called Kumaon are very popular. They also discourage their children from participating in activites which does not involve academics as they consider it as waste of time. I think it not just Indians but most asians do not associate school with fun.

  2. Back home, I grew up with only one special costume day a year, because it was a festival celebrated all over Geneva, other than that we had field trips, and sports day for which parents had to make a couple of sandwich and snacks because we were gone the whole day. Otherwise the wasn't even tiffins to prepare because Swiss kids usually come home for lunch and go back to school afterward, or pay to have the school meal if parents are both working and can't make it home. I think associating school with some fun is a good idea, it makes kids more eager to learn, and by learn I mean genuinely learn instead of just learning things by heart mindlessly, but coming from a such a system that put the accent on creativity and critical thinking, I can say the whole costume day props aren't that necessary, just letting kids cut out pictures out of old magazines in school and pasting them on posters works too as a fun learning tool.

  3. Love the new look of your blog! My worst "homework" has been my sons' annual science fair project with the required trifold display board. It is a beast of a project and requires data, pictures, a catchy title, etc.! It is the absolute worst thing ever, and I have finally put my foot down and refuse to help. My youngest son is 13, so he is capable. I still do the gluing of the construction paper.

    I am a reading teacher at the middle school level, and any projects I assign are relevant and done in class. I teach the lowest readers in the school, and most don't do any HW or projects at home. They don't get the help or support at home that they require, and I can help them more if they do the work in class.

    My sons rarely had to dress in costume when they were younger, and it was a good thing because I have no creativity when it comes to that!

  4. Thank you :-)
    I remember these 3D projects and collage! We had to do them in school, thankfully my parents were spared the agony of doing them with my sister and I. The baking sales and and fund raising events where enough to give them headache with the mandatory cakes and salads and volunteer helping hands that were involved in these. The fun part was that at these baking sales most parents were invariably sending a spong cake or a fruit pie because they were easy to pull, so there wasn't a lot of choice at the cake booth LOL


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