Friday, December 14, 2018

Decisions, decisions, decisions - Yet again

Two years just flew past. It looked like it was just the other day when we were busy with the admissions to the college of our elder son. I have chronicled that entire journey in
'Life out of a cocoon - Part 4'

It was now the turn of my younger one!

There is a gap of 21 months between my two sons. When my younger son completed his 9th grade we asked him what decision he had made about the stream he wanted to pursue in his 11th and 12th grade. If it was Engineering, Medical or Pure Sciences, then he had to take up the Science stream. This meant getting into the juggling act of coaching classes once again, which gave me nightmares. But, mentally we were bracing ourselves to go through this whole jig if he were to choose so (sigh).

But he decided on taking up Commerce as his stream. Two reasons sealed his decision:
1. While he was above average in Math, it wasn't something he was in love with.
2. He had seen what his brother had gone through and that was definitely not his cup of tea.

He is good at sketching and drawing. Right from his childhood, he was very methodical, detail oriented and neat in his work. This was the comment that his teachers too would make about his work. But, he was his best critique! He would never be happy with his work and it would be done and redone until he was satisfied. Everything from his books to pencil box had to be arranged in a certain way. Touching his books or pencil box by any one of us was taboo! Even if we took out something and kept it perfectly the way it was, he would still know that someone had gone through his stuff!

Given all these peculiarities, he was clear it had to be something in fine arts. But did not have any clue as to what it could be. We then zeroed in on architecture. On enquiring, we found that one had to prepare for entrance exams to get into Architecture. This required preparation. One of my friends highly recommended this particular coaching institute where her daughter used to go. We went to this Institute during his summer vacations to find out more details about the course. After talking to the Trainer, we came to know that apart from Architecture, they also offered coaching classes for Design courses. This was something very new to us! The Trainer explained to us about various fields of design which one can pursue like Product design, Transportation design, Game, and Animation design and so on. We had never heard about this at all. We spoke for a long time and the more we got to know about it, the more my son started leaning towards design. Finally, my son decided to explore this option for two reasons:

1. He had found something which intrigued and interested him.
2. He came to know that Architecture required him to take math as one of the subjects in 11th and 12th grade. That was anathema to him.

He started attending what was called Foundation Classes at the institute, during his summer vacations. The Foundation Classes would help the Trainers gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the students and also help the students to actually discover if this was their calling. The classes were very interesting. The students were asked to sketch and design some twenty odd T-shirts, ties, jewelry, cartoons, furniture, shoe, school bags, sketch stories and so on.

As he started attending the course, a new world opened before him. He started enjoying it and discovered different facets and skills unfolding. Once his regular school classes started, the Foundation classes were held only on weekends. Our days of scurrying, ferrying and driving to and fro was finally over! Did I mention that Math was not mandatory for Design courses? So there, that was an added incentive for him.

P.S.: My son finally ended up taking Math in 11th and 12th grade as we felt if he were to change his mind and wanted to take up Architecture, then he would still have an option. To his credit, he managed to do well in Math without going for extra coaching!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Life out of a cocoon - Part 4

"There are two times when Parenting is difficult. When the baby first arrives at home, and when the adult first leaves home"- Jennifer Quinn.

This is just a quote until the time you experience it yourself and then it hits you hard. Though my son had gotten into the Institutes in the same city that we resided in, we wanted him to go out from this protective cocoon out into the world and spread his wings. I remember one of my friends being surprised when we told her that we actually would like our children to go out and experience life outside of home!

Moreover, it is only the human babies who are nurtured close to one and half decades in comparison to the bird and animal kingdom. The young ones of birds and animals, have to be up and about within a couple of hours or days after birth so that they don't fall easy prey to predators in the jungle.

Therefore, it is but natural for parents to be anxious and worried about the wellbeing of their children. More so, because of the impressionable (and vulnerable) age at which they leave home for the first time. But we wondered if not now, when? On his part, my son felt the thrill and excitement of exploring a new world on his own for the first time in his life as well as anxiety on how he would manage. Days flew by. The college forms and the hostel forms were filled. Though the college had allocated a single room with attached toilet, we opted for three students sharing a room with common toilet. We wanted him to build relationships with his peers, understand the meaning of sharing, adapt to the nitty-gritty of living in a hostel (washing one's clothes etc) and not get used to small luxuries that come with a single room.

There were umpteen things to do. Lists were drawn out as to what all things he needs to pack. His clothes, bedsheets, pillow covers, toiletries, medicine kit, hangers, etc. Apart from his list I had drawn my own list! How can I not pack some of his favourite goodies and snacks.... my list was never-ending. Somehow as mothers, we have this tendency of 'overpacking' (that is what I tell myself) thinking that one needs to be prepared for future contingency. As the baggage started increasing in numbers and getting heavier, both my son and husband finally put their foot down. They told me that it is not a remote place that he will be going to and removed half of what I had packed..(But then, I still managed to sneak in a few things when no one was around) My husband and son were baffled as to why the bags were still heavy!

The College had various formalities that needed to be completed and an orientation for the parents had also been arranged by the college. We did not want to miss out on this important milestone in our son's life. Since this was also the first time that our son was leaving home, my husband and I decided to go along with him. The college also made arrangements for parents to stay in the hostel rooms within the campus. We thought that would be the best way to assess things first-hand.

So, we landed up there and the first view of the college mesmerized us. Situated atop hills at a height, there it was, acres of lush green land with academic blocks and hostel blocks spread out far and wide. It made us go wow! The hostel rooms were very neat and comfortable too. This particular town actually is a University town. Engineering, Medical, Management, Hotel management institutes all being located in this town - it would perhaps be a town with one of the youngest populations in the country. One would only see students all around us. The small shops within the campus added to the charm. Here we were amazed at the range of products that were being sold! There was everything that a student would ever need. I realised then that whatever we had packed was all unnecessary. The shopkeepers, in fact, knew exactly what we needed and without being asked would just assemble everything in front of us as a package. Such was their efficiency.

Then to my son's delight there were umpteen number of restaurants with all kinds of cuisines. Guess what! The prices were half of what we would pay back home. The food in the food court within the college was also good. We were really happy with the entire set up.

On the parent orientation day, both the faculty and the hostel warden spoke about all the do's and dont's within the campus and the hostel. Whatever our worries were, was allayed by the staff and the faculty. The rules for hostel were very strict and it was a great relief for us. As all the parents were in the same boat, we exchanged notes and found that we were not the only odd ones out! All of them had similar queries and doubts.

Suddenly, it was that moment of saying our final goodbyes. With a promise to keep in touch whenever and whatever time it may be, and also assuring him that we are always there to listen to him with regard to any issues or problems that he might face during his course of time there, we bid him adieu. It felt strange when we got back home with one less member of the family. The saving grace was my second son being home with us for the next two years!