04 September, 2008

Growing Up ....

It is often said that the going gets tougher as one gets older. Not just tougher actually, the going gets more challenging too. In more ways than one.

As one grows up, one realizes that there is more to a scene or a situation than what confronts ones sights. One begins to look for hidden clues to looks and glances, hidden meanings to sentences.

As one grows up, one realizes that there are more angles to a particular situation than they had earlier imagined.

As one grows up, one learns to differentiate between right and wrong by oneself and this leads to a lot of conflicts in its own way. The ever famous battle of the “heart v/s head”.

As one grows up, one learns that ones plus points can well come with their own set of disadvantages too – as far as the friends circle goes.

As one grows up, one learns that decision making can sometimes get very confusing.

As one grows up, one learns that one has to take what has been offered and try and make the best of the situation.

As one grows up, one learns that one has to, for the most part, battle against odds to get to where one wants to go.

As one grows up, one learns that one cannot always have things ones way – there is a give and take involved.

As one grows up, one learns that growing up can be pretty uncomfortable business.

As one grows up, one learns the hard way that growing up can be a rather taxing affair.

It has been a couple of weeks since school re-opened and Appu is often found lost, floating around in a haze and most importantly there was a definite lack of enthusiasm about school and its related activities. Right through the vacations, their group of girls have been cribbing about the fact that their group has been split up – the girls have ended up in different classes. The singular unit that they had going over the past couple of years has indeed been divided, in more ways than one.

At first, we attributed Appu’s lack of enthusiasm in going to school to the immense pressure that the kids are being put through this year. The pressure which was being slowly turned on since Year 3 increased a little further during their Year 4. But this year, it is almost as if all faucets have been turned on full force and the blast of pressure is hitting the kids smack on their face. For the first few days there was total bewilderment as if to say “Hey – what exactly IS happening ?”. They have been told, in no uncertain terms, that they are just a couple of years away from secondary school and that they are not kids anymore. Secondary school is not a walk in the park. They’ve been asked in absolutely clear terms to tighten their belts and get their acts together.

Just two weeks of school has already seen them take three different surprise spot tests in Math and the projects have begun to come in as well – fast and furious. Last week saw the submission of the first project and tomorrow will see the submission of the second project.

So all in all, we thought that it was the pressure that was taking its toll on Appu. Turns out, we could not have been farther away from the real source of the problem. To cut a long story short, what is troubling her is her friends “isolating” her in the academic environment. Of the other two girls who have been put in the same class, one is distinctly playing hooky and the other is toeing her line. In effect, in classroom situations where the kids are asked to pair off with another kid to finish classroom projects or work and meet deadlines – Aparna finds herself “outside” of her comfort zone – i.e the other two girls.

Since all classes have been mixed up, each and every kid has a partner from their previous year to work with. They have their own “comfort zones” and as is normal human tendency, there is a distinct unwillingness among the other children to “step out” of their comfort zones, change partners, let go of their old partner for a new one for their classroom work. This is not a new scene. Each and every one of us has had our own “comfort zones” at school and if at all relinquished, it has been with a great deal of unwillingness.

Another boy in class approached her and they paired off for the class project. Again she seemed to have run into a wall of sorts because her ideas were just not being taken into account. The reason stated to have been “I’m elder to you. So my ideas go in here. Not yours.”

All in all, this has resulted in a great deal of pent up anger, frustration, sadness and a general feeling of dissatisfaction. Basically what really irks her is the fact that while her mind bubbles with ideas, she is not able to implement and put across the same on paper. Because in her present surroundings at school, she seems to be running into walls. There is a distinct feeling of being “boxed in” and one of not having enough “elbow room”.

Not being able to stand aside and watching her feel so “down” about something, I have been wheedling her for information for the past few days and it was just yesterday that the dam broke. And all the problems and bottlenecks and frustrations came pouring out. It was not very difficult to see that she’s really hurting over being isolated by the other two academically. While all three of them still play together, have their lunch and snack together and share them too, when it comes to “classroom” work – the equation changes and tensions seep in.

This current situation must be bringing alongwith it a lot of confusion too. “Why are they doing this ?” being the topmost question. She's asked me this question, more than once. No one knows the answer to that one other than those two. For that matter, the age they are at, I sincerely wonder if the other two know exactly the reasoning behind their actions too.

All in all, it is going to take some time for her to find her equation in this class of Year Fives. School life, as she’d known it so far, has changed dramatically all of a sudden.

For us, as parents, to watch her go through this phase in life is painful too. To put things simply “when your child hurts, you hurt two times that much”. Yes, it does hurt. It hurts to see her trying to come to terms and cope with the situation that she’s facing at school. It hurts to see her put on a brave front as she goes to school every morning, knowing very well as to what lies ahead.

It hurts to see her hurting.

We know this is just a passing phase and that she will come out of it “head above water”. And we also make sure that she knows we are there for her – now and always. It is a good thing that she talks about it now rather than clam the whole issue up inside of her. In a way, it is a good thing that the problem has been isolated.

I, for one, do strongly believe in the saying “whatever happens, happens for a reason and that whatever happens, happens for the better”. Try explaining that to a 8 ½ year old !!! I guess it’s a little too early for that kind of philosophy !!

She’s a strong kid – mentally and emotionally. She has the capacity to cope with pressure. The question is more of having faith in herself. In HER having the confidence in herself to know that she can deal with and come out of situations with her head well above water. It is not going to be easy. But then again, when has growing up been easy ?

Like the quote from The Wonder Years goes

Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come.”

post signature

20 voice(s) said so:

Jayashree said...

Aparna sounds like a wonderfully sensible girl. Iam sure she'll come out of this just fine. It's hard for an 8 yr old to have to cope up with pressure not just on the school front but also from friends. Hugs to you and to her.

Altoid said...

Awww the poor thing. I'm sure there's a lot of turmoil in her right now. But like you say growing up was never easy and you just live and learn a lot more every 24 hrs when you're a child. And this too shall pass.

Hugs to you and Appu, G. Good that she does open up, thats half the battle won.

Suki said...

Big hugs to her, I hope she finds new friends soon!

Tharini said...

*sigh Gauri. Its nto easy to see what kids can do to kids.

But I think its amazing that she talked and revealed the source of all her pressure. In the coming days, her problem might not get solved, but she will have the every relief of talking to you...her mother, her friend. May this trend be everlasting.

And wishing that things turn around in some bright way for ou dear sweet Appu.

Suma said...

sigh...it hurts terribly when kids suffer...even though we know that it is a learning experience for them...at least she spoke her mind, which is good

...i sometimes find it tough getting through to my 11 yrold...

you rightly said that she has to keep up her faith in herself...

hugs to you cos i know watching her cope will not be easy...

Compassion Unlimitted said...

Bullys ! they are everywhere and at all ages.Handling them is also part of our growing up.Encourage your child to handle the situation.Just dont worry ,things will work out in a positive way !!
TC
CU

Keshi said...

Im like Aparna...all my life.

I had to GROW UP way before my time.

Keshi.

Keshi said...

btw come n check out my doc's pic Gauri!

Keshi.

Neera said...

From what I understand, in Appu's new class, while forming smaller groups for a particular assignment, you can chose only one of your previous friends/classmates to promote fairness to some extent and kids getting to know more kids, right? So since only 3 of the girls from Appu's group are now in this class, unfortunately Appu is the one who is the victim of this unfairness?

Could you talk to her what she could do about it (may be u already have) and not exactly say urself but make her come up with a solution to the effect of talking to her friends abt her feelings so that they could pair up alternately for different assignments?

Something similar happened to me when I was in 9th grade and all I had to do was talk to my friends and it turned out that it was something that I was doing that was annoying them, unknowingly, but even then.

Gauri said...

Jayashree : True. Coping with pressure seems to have become the norm.

Altoid : Yes, it is a good thing she atleast tells us about it. Else with all the assumptions and presumptions, things would get rather confusing.

Suki : Thanks dear. I hope so too.

Tharini : T - I do hope the channels of communication stay open too.

Suma : Yes. It is not easy to watch them go through these situations. But then again, I guess one just has to think of the whole issue as a learning curve, for them and for us.

Compassion Unlimited : Thanks. Yes - bullies are indeed everywhere. Kids have to find their own equations in dealing with them.

Keshi : You have your head firmly planted on your shoulders Keshi. That is a big thing in the world of today. Kudos.

Neera : We did speak to her and also brought up many possible scenarios. Too early to say if things are working. Though, yesterday and today have been better.

Mama - Mia said...

kids can indeed be cruel at times. and the other person is also a kid who cannot understand why. When why me is the question most adults dont have an answer to, i can imagine Appu's state.

Am sure with your guidance and support and her own innate sensitivity, she will do just fine! :)

and because your blog is so sensible and nice, will you pls pick up an award from mine?

cheers!

abha

Rohini said...

Can I stop time?! I have no idea how I will deal with stuff like this when the time comes. Scary!

Sraikh said...

My oldest is 9 and she just started 4th grade. I think this age the "tween" years is scary, parenting wise and alsot to the the kids. They are neither kids nor teenagers. Plus girls seem to form this silly little clique things. It seems that my dd's bffs have been split into the other class and she was sad!! Secretly I was happy, its good for the girls to have change.--.coming back to Appu, I'm sure,she will get ideas across and those other kids WILL listen to her.
Big hugs to you
Gauri. I know the sinking feeling one gets when faced with a sad child and there nothing one can do to make it better.

Gauri said...

Mama Mia : Yep. Kids can be really cruel to kids, albeit unknowingly. Again, one can't do much other than attribute it to the "growing up" process.
And thanks for teh award :). Will pass it on in a while.

Rohini : :). You'll deal with it too, when the time comes.

Sraikh : Imagine if the "tween" years are this complicated - exactly how complex do the "teen" years get !! ?? Right now, I don't even want to go anywhere near that question :).

Keshi said...

aww tnxx hun, n u too!

Keshi.

Cuckoo said...

Its not easy being a child! Well,seems like A is handling the pressure well and hats off to you for being a mom that she confides in. Once she learns to deal with it, she only becomes stronger and yes, you hurt more than her... hope things have ironed out a bit now.

d said...

hey g

appu is an amazing kid and you are an amazing mom and i do hope i can be like you with my daughters...

have a look at this -
http://dailytiffin.blogspot.com/2008/01/girls-are-mean.html

love
d

dipali said...

This is so sad. I guess it's an early reality check- painful but part of growing up. All the best to Aparna and her concerned family.

choxbox said...

hugs to her gauri.

choxbox said...

you know - that inner strength you talk abt - it comes from having a mom like you. it will surely help her deal with this.