The day my child’s teacher let her down


May 3, 2011
Primary school children idolise their teachers – their word is The Bible. And my daughter is no exception.

There are days when she jumps out of her school bus beaming and runs towards me…In that splash of a second I conjure up 10 reasons for her happiness. She possibly received a reward; no, a compliment could
be; or possibly her friend’s birthday…

But she’ll wrap her hands around my waist and announce: “You know what mamu, Ma’am asked me to be the leader again today.” Or “You know what mamu, Ma’am wore a pink skirt today. Oh! she was soooooo beautiful.” One day it was her touch. “You know what mamu, I touched Ma’am’s palm. Oh, sooooooo soft. Really.” [The really comes whenever I smile.]

My child’s you-know-what-mamu-incidents are stress busters for me. The little happenings in class hold immense importance to her. She feels majestic when asked to lead or feels special when her friend takes her
around to distribute sweets on her birthday. And when her teacher showers a compliment…WOW! I’ll need a tranquiliser to calm her down!

But last week, my child got off the bus with a pout. It took her a long while to get speaking. And when she did I had reason enough to believe my child was let down. Let down by her teacher!

Painting competition 

The school management was selecting students for a painting competition.

“You know mamu, my art teacher came to our class yesterday and said who all can draw nicely, raise your hands. So some of us did and ma’am asked us to draw something that will show friendship.”

The chosen few followed their art teacher to another classroom. At the end of the period, their teacher walked in to collect the work.

“But it was break time. So ma’am said, those of you who did not complete, can go to your classes and complete the drawing and submit later.”

Yeah, then what happened?

“Wait, I’ll show you.” I thought she had got her work back from the teacher.

“But you know what mamu, Dolly. Remember I told you she was my partner. Ah! that Dolly, she came to class, took our Hindi text book and copied the picture from this chapter. See this picture? She drew
the saaaammmme. Same picture.”

And her pout grew bigger.

“That’s bad manners,” I assured her.

And there flowed the stream. She hugged me and cried…”But mamu, she got selected. She copied and ma’am selected her. We all drew from imagination.

“And you know what mamu, Dolly says, ma’am said we can copy. But I didn’t hear ma’am say that. Everyone can draw nicely, if we copy. This is wrong, isn’t it?”

As I stood clueless about what to reply, she continued…”I went to art ma’am and told her.”

Zap! My ears stood up. “You complained about Dolly?”

“No. Why should I complain. I wanted to know if ma’am said we can copy.”

Innocent, my child! What was the use. Too late, anyways. But I restrained myself at the last moment from thinking out loud.

“Ah? What did she say?”

“You know what mamu, ma’am said ‘yes, we can copy and draw’. And when I said Dolly copied this picture and she got selected, ma’am said, ‘it’s ok. She will practise for the competition’.”

“All of us can practise and draw nicely.”

…and what did you say, I asked?

“I said ok ma’am, thank you and went to my class.”

I prayed my helplessness didn’t pass on to my child as I held her close.

“It’s ok, my darling. Only true talent will last, I explained. And the most important thing is you were sincere in your approach. So what if you are not selected. I’m proud of you.”

“Only you! What about papa?”

There that’s my child back in her elements in a jiffy with a tight hug.

Nisha Sanjeev

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