Friday, May 04, 2007

Child's play

So a friend of mine was going out of town so she asked me if I could cover her tuition in the meantime. I agreed cos it's only on sunday evenings and the kid lives very close to my house. I have to cover only 4-5 lessons, which is not exactly good news considering how adorable this kid is. And of course, not to mention how flattering my first non-padhai conversation with her was.

After the first lesson, she asked me, "So you live with your parents?"



"My husband."

"Husband????? You're married???" She gasped. I was wearing a T-shirt with three-quarters, a headband and cycling shoes (I was going cycling to the beach after the class) so I guess I looked younger than my age.

"Errr, yes I am."

"But you look really young. Like really young. You look like you're in your twenties at most."

"I am in my twenties." I smiled.

"But you don't look married at all!"

I guess my age came up in their dinnertime conversations because today when I went over, her grandma told me how young I looked and then asked me how many children I had.

Children. Not even child. Children. Sheesh.

I guess they thought since I "look younger" I must be a few decades older than I look. Sheesh.


Today, we were revising the topic 'Materials' when she said she needed a way to remember the names of all the materials in the syllabus. So we made a list:


"Can we make a word using the first letter of each of the words? That will be easy to remember." She asked.

"We could, but it's difficult with these words."

"Yeah, no vowels." She knew what I was talking about.

"How about we take the first two letters and then make the word? That way we have some vowels too." I suggested.




"Nope, this sounds terrible, doesn't it?" I said.

"Yeah, it does." She giggled.

"Ok how about we form a sentence with the first letter of each of the words?"

"Oh yeah! It's called a synonym or something, yeah?"

"No, not synonym... it's called something else... and I can't remember what it is!"

"Abbreviation...? No..." She said.

"Acronym... no... palindrome... no... anagram... no..." I just couldn't remember what the word was.

"Anyway, whatever it is, let's do it." I said.

"Okay!" She sounded excited.

"So what do we have here? Two Rs, W, P, C, G and M."

So the two of us racked our brains.

"How about "Children Go Running With Me in the Park?" I asked.

"But you used only one R. There are two." She pointed out.

"Hmmm... we can use the other R before 'children'. We need an adjective that starts with R."

"Oh I know I know! Riotous Children?" She burst into laughter.

"Riotous?" I suppressed my laughter and showed my disapproval. I didn't wanna put riotous ideas in her young mind. When you're a teacher, sometimes you just have to compromise the fun things for appropriateness. Even when I worked as an editor of kids' textbooks, I had to always be careful to check for any racist or sexist idea which could subtly make its way through to the child's mind. As a teacher or an editor, we are taught to set good examples for the kids and say the right things. And sometimes it's just very annoying to be so politically correct. I remember getting a rap from the enrichment centre where I used to teach because I played 'Hangman' with the kids in the last 15 minutes of the lesson when I should have "utilised the time better by teaching them something useful". Even though they knew that I was playing 'Science hangman' with the kids, in order to get them to correctly spell scientific words, but in a fun way.

Anyway, back to the mess of materials.



As we ROFLed over our own suggestions, we wondered why we couldn't find any adjectives that started with R and had a positive connotation. Maybe all children are either riotous or rowdy or ruthless.

"How about Roly-Poly?" She asked, excitedly.

"Oh yeah! That sounds good. But that's an extra P. Oh wait, we can knock off the bit about the park and make it 'Roly-Poly Children Go Running With Me'! Yeah?"

"Yeah!" She was very excited. "Now it's so easy to remember!"

On the way back from her house, I wondered if even Roly-Poly was inappropriate. I mean I am totally supportive of the fact that Roly-Poly children should, in fact, be running a lot, but I sure did not want to encourage a "weight-ist attitude" in my tuition kid.

Later, as I sent an sms to her mother asking her to tell the kid that the word we were looking for was 'acrostic', I wondered if the mother would express disapproval towards my teaching methods when she found out about the 'Roly-Poly' thing.

And then just like that, a better thought struck me. Perhaps I was thinking too much. As long as we're not over-doing it, perhaps we should just forget about being so 'appropriate' all the time. Childhood happens only once, and they have a lifetime to be appropriate.

For now, just let the kids enjoy their frickin' childhood.


Thisisme said...


Thisisme said...

Childhood happens only once, and they have a lifetime to be appropriate

Completely Completely agree :)

Its ok to b not so strict abt it at times..

Thisisme said...

and iske saath silver n bronze bhi mera :D:D:D:D:D

Bivas said...

Kooky (Adj.):Informal or slang term for mentally irregular
Well!? ;-)

Sayesha said...

Uffff metallica ki ma, le ja le ja! Soniye le ja! :D

Precisely! ;)

soleil said...

I totally agree! I teach tuition to siblings who are in primary 3 and primary 5. These poor kids have 3 other tution teachers besides me. So basically their life consists of school, tuition and play with play taking up only that much of their time. Childhood nowadays is just so different from what it used to be.

Thisisme said...

yahoooo! thankooo thankooo! :D:D

Amit Panhale said...

that 2nd last line was a GEM...!

Sakshi said...

Childhood happens only once if you grow out of it.
I refuse to!!

Sayesha said...

Yeah man! Even my tuition kid has a busier weekly schedule than mine! :O


Thanks :)

Hehehe... it still happens only once. Just that the "once" lasts a very long time :)

raghu said...

nice.. same theme.. im getting a clearer idea of why you teach and edit books now..
i still dont understand if we are down playing the importance of childhood and innocence or am i giving it too much importance.. damn only time will tell.

Ab said...

hey, they have tuitions (with syllabus and all) for kids in Singapore too, eh?

Iday said...

I keep wondering if we really dont make a big fuss of it, will the kids ever notice that such things are politically incorrect???

Of course, there are some stuff which are downright wrong - racism for example. But picking out every second word just coz they "might" spoil the kid sounds like a sure shot way to make the kid look at the word in a spoiled way :) If we never mentioned it, probably the first (and/or the strongest) impression about the word in the kids mind will be the better ones :)

Sayesha said...

//im getting a clearer idea of why you teach and edit books now..

Thanks... sometimes even I wonder the exact same thing, but then something happens and I just know :)

Of course. What did you think? :)
In fact, did you know a lot of African countries use the Singapore syllabus, especially for Science and Maths?? :)

Man, couldn't agree with you more! :)

Raam Pyari said...

Cannot understand the language, but chek this one out!

Rebellion said...

How can you do this to me Sash??
mummeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :'(

How I wish at this time your dream wud be true! I wanna be there with both of you tooooo :'(

I wanna re-live my childhood tooooooo!!!

Neihal said...



It reminds me how creative I use to be as a kid. :P

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

:-) nice post. and I concur- kids should be allowed to enjoy childhood unfettered.

rads said...

For now, just let the kids enjoy their frickin' childhood.

so true!

puresunshine said...

Hi sayesha,

Suchi from The Telegraph. We have covered your blog. Check out the link below:

If u need a hard copy do mail me. contact in the link



Bivas said...

I think they shud hv put the link of the post being referred to as well on that article...

Sayesha said...

#Raam Pyari,
Hahahahahahaha! Awesome, I'll KIV this for a future video of the week :D

Dreams are just the beginning, bacha! :)

Hahaha! We actually tried pronouncing that! :D

#Ipanema Gal,
Thanks! :)


Oh wow, thanks!! :) I'd love to have a hard copy! I've sent you an email with my address :)

Haha... yeah I kinda agree. Warna pple have to plow thru all the other crap to get to the Jharkhand posts! :)

raghu said...

ab tereko GOLD :D

Sayesha said...

Thanks! :P

raghu said...

read it, read it, read it! :D

Sayesha said...

Oh my goodness! :O