Last two years have affected everyone in different ways due to the COVID pandemic. Lately, things are slowly getting back to normal (or should I say ‘The New Normal’) for most of us. We, adults, got adjusted even with this new normal of Work From Home / Hybrid work culture, online meetings, and started living by Stay Home – Stay Safe policy. However, these two years were particularly very difficult and challenging for kids, especially the young ones. At an age when they are supposed to go out, play, explore, socialize & make friends, these kids were confined to the 4 walls of the house, hardly interacting with anyone outside their family. At a time when parents were supposed to minimize their screen-time, the kids were forced to be on computer/laptops for online classes. These sudden changes were too much for the little ones’ minds to comprehend.
Studies say it is too early to measure the long term effects of this pandemic on children’s lives. However, we’re already experiencing the short-term effects in their behavior and their daily routine lives. We have seen this with our daughter Vritima and even with other kids that they started getting bored frequently, their screen-time increased, less physical activities, less socializing with kids their age, started becoming introvert, increased behavioral and temper issues, frequent emotional outbursts etc. As parents, we try our best to keep them engaged, involve them in some fun activities, encourage them to help in house chores, set a routine etc. But, in a long run, it becomes difficult for kids to maintain the routing which doesn’t become monotonous.
Here’s a fun anecdote – Vritima was attending online classes (UKG) while we were in our hometown for over a year. She used to sit and attend the online class regularly. So, when we returned to Bangalore, she sat in online class for first day and then suddenly lost interest. We were wondering why she refuses to attend online class all of a sudden and when asked, she replies – ‘But dad, we are back in Bangalore now so I will go to the (physical) school, why should I sit in online class now? I will not sit in online class in Bangalore.’ Her little brain thought that her school is in Bangalore, she was in hometown, that was the reason she was attending online classes from hometown.
Even this little incident affected her so much that there was a phase where, for over a month, she totally withdrew herself from all activities, became extremely quiet and reserved that we were genuinely worried that she will have a mental breakdown if not diverted. Although her pre-school made efforts to start physical classes when government permitted, it was still on and off due to fluctuating COVID cases in December 2021 – January 2022. Also, quiet understandably, lot of parents were still hesitant to send their wards to physical school even though school authorities assured they will follow all guidelines, and then it was almost the end of academic year. Thankfully the Annual Day Celebration in her LKG gave her the confidence boost she badly needed.
When we took her UKG admission in DPS, we were little skeptical about the new environment, long distance, going in school bus etc. and how she would adjust to this sudden change. However, Vritima was more than happy just by knowing that her school will start in UKG, and all the more excited that she will go in school bus. She said – ‘Listen Mom-Listen Dad, I am 5 year old grown up kid now. I can take care of myself and travel in bus alone. I don’t want you to drop and pick me.’ Now that was the moment we realized that our little princess is not so little anymore, the sense of maturity in her was so overwhelming and we cannot be more proud of how responsible she is growing up to be.
So, a week before her school reopening, Megha and I sat her down to give a little gyan and basic instructions, most of which were already told many times over and repetitive (typical parenting, you know) – to take care of her belongings in school, be careful in bus, washroom training, good touch – bad touch, using mask/sanitizer and basic hygiene guidelines etc. And after few instructions she was like – ‘Yes, yes Dad, I know all these things. Don’t you know I am now grown up and can take care of myself alone?’ We laughed and breathed a sigh of relief knowing she is now ready to take on the world.
Then came the big first day of school, we were unsure whether she will wake up on time, dress-up and get ready before her bus arrives. And to our utter surprise, she was so excited and pumped up for her first day that she was up in a flash, got ready herself, ate her breakfast without any fuss and was standing at her bus pick-up point on time. The bus comes, she turns around, says bye and in a blink of an eye, off she goes. Megha and I stood there for a good 5 minutes after the bus left, processing our emotions and parental anxiety.
We spent next 5 hours watching the clock every few minutes, waiting anxiously and wondering whether she reached safely, how would the first day be, will she adjust and enjoy, will she be comfortable and hundred more questions (I am sure most parents this year would have gone through this roller-coaster of overwhelming emotions, anxiety and concerns). At the stroke of 12:30 noon, we were already at the drop point, waiting eagerly. The moment bus arrives, Megha runs to the other side of the road as I try to find Vritima – and there she was, sitting comfortably on window seat, smiling. She gets down, Megha hugs her as if she was gone for ages, heaved a sigh of relief and we headed back home.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the first day of post-pandemic physical school concluded. It has been one week since this eventful day-1 and the ease with which Vritima has adjusted to this new phase of her life has also helped settle our nerves as parents. Here’s a sneak-peek snippet of our little angel’s first day of – School Chalein Hum..!! Cheers..!!!