It Takes Twelve To Tangle

Meera Srikant

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man, said Rabindranath Tagore. But sometimes, just sometimes, one can be forgiven for wondering whether children are His way of testing our patience.” – Meera

I looked at the group balefully. But the look was wasted. For they were busy playing, fighting, talking and, of course, complaining to whoever would hear, without bothering even for a second that they were themselves cause for complain.

They were doing what they are meant for, what they are best at: playing, fighting, talking, complaining…

And I try to prove that I am doing what I am best at – getting them to coordinate steps and create a wow moment on the floor.

In this battle of wills, who will win is a question no one can answer. It is like sitting on a roller coaster ride, I may go up, or they. But whether they win or I, in the end, victory is theirs.

The Tiny Tots

Meet my combatants, all of five-year young. Students of pre-primary – LKG and UKG – at Vruksha Montessori School in Chennai. After nine months of their teachers struggling to make them learn the three Rs, I join them to teach the students D – that is, Dance for the Annual Day for three months in a year.

The school being a Montessori, the children are used to sitting on the floor, walking to the shelves to pick up ‘materials’ and ‘work’ with them.  Most of the times, what work they do is dictated by their whims and fancies, and their teachers, ‘aunties’ really, prod them gently to take up different kinds of work. They do it if there is a promise of a smiley, a star, an ice cream or something similar. And if they don’t feel up to it, they loiter till one of the aunties nudges them to be more focused.

And, oh, they get to sleep for 15 minutes after lunch.

And, one more thing. Only when they turn five do they even start staying after lunch.

So imagine this sleepy bunch of 12 out of roughly 90 students, used to working playfully with aunties who are generous with their praise and affection, being rounded up suddenly at a time when they would like to spread their mats and stretch a while to face a stranger who was going to tell them to work as a team! Their other classmates get to learn from their regular teachers at a more convenient time. They get to swing and sway.

But in I walk with grand plans of making these slightly-older-than-toddlers into ace dancers. Don’t blame me for it. Their teachers want it for them too. So they pick out the most promising lot and hand them over to me, trusting that I will be able to create magic with them.

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