Impressionable Minds

Once upon a time, a ‘teacher’ was mostly a middle-aged lady with kids of her own and predictably toggled between grandmotherly and grumpy. Her chalk-stained fingers and crisp cotton sarees would have tormented and soothed several batches of young minds. She always took the effort to know more about the child, her parents, her siblings. She knew the impact she had on young impressionable minds.

Today a ‘teacher’ is mostly a young mother, understands that today’s kids are so much more aware of their world and let’s their individuality shine. She’s almost the big sister in kurtis and jeans. She seeks to be a friend, not so much dwelling on the long-term impact of the student-teacher relationship. Just one year at a time.

Why am I rambling about this? It seems I have a little girl who believes that her teacher is someone to be respected and revered so much that she cannot fail in her teacher’s eyes. And while for a bit this may seem like a good thing, I am discovering that it’s not so simple. And that for this relationship to work, both sides must believe that the bond is so strong yet tender. They must invest their time and energy into getting to know each other.

K loves school and her teachers. Life is wonderful academically. Every parent-teacher meeting I hear such lovely things about her that my heart glows. But there’s one little thing she’s not able to master – eating her school lunch on time. She’s always been a poor eater so she struggles to finish the servings in the thirty minutes. And in her eyes, she’s failing the teacher. She is being reprimanded by her idol. So she fakes aches and pains. This buys more time or buys more sympathy.

And how did this vicious circle start? One young teacher repeatedly scolded her in front of her friends. She didn’t see the pain in the little girl’s eyes? The disappointment in herself that she couldn’t finish the task set for her – finish your lunch faster? So she has set her on a constant search for excuses.

‘Momma, give me home lunch. just two idlis please.’

And Momma obliges. It’s better than a six-year-old sitting in fear at the lunch table, eating too fast and then bringing it all out. 😦

How I wish the teacher had understood this little girl. Coaxed her gently, encouraged her to eat better. Yelling was always an option but a last resort.

Now this little impressionable mind has only one view – I can’t meet the teacher’s expectation so she will yell. And then I will feel really bad.

Me too Kiddo.