First a public service announcement: I’ve decided to switch Benji’s name on the blog to Nene (pronounced Naynay). It’s what we call him at home, and I keep slipping up on the blog. So the artist-formerly-knowng-as-Benji is now Nene. Okay?

So, kind of by default, I’ve become quite involved in my kids’ kindergarten. Nene is part of a trio of kids whose moms are SAHMs and who are enthu cutlets about any school activity and I get asked to be part of things too, and so I agree. There are some things I would have put my hand up for, and others I wouldn’t have but end up doing thanks to the other two mothers.

Like representing India on International Day. There are quite a few Indian kids in the school and I thought I would take a backseat on this one. But then An’s mum asked me if I’d join her in planning the India activity and I said ok. It turned out as usual noone else was volunteering except the usual suspects (us).

An’s mum seemed to have it under control in terms of what we could do, since she had just done a stall at her older daughter’s school. However, all her ideas were activity based and it turned out we just needed to do a show-and-tell. So I decided to step aside. Another reason was that when they announced the presenters, they only put An’s mom’s name up (though to be fair I had not told the principal I’d be participating too) so I took it as a sign to step aside. Anyway, how hard could a 10 minute show-and-tell be.

Apparently quite hard according to some because An’s mum and Jay’s mum were stressing about their presentation. So much to do, it seems. I thought it was a bit ridiculous. But I offered to help.

In the end, I thought up a bunch of ideas we could do. I expected An’s mum to veto some but she accepted all, and even tried to add more. Frankly, there wasn’t that much ‘prep’ since we only had about 10 minutes to set up before the act. Here’s what we did:

An’s mum brought a flag and some large India maps from her stall. We put those up. I brought some assorted scarves that I unnecessarily draped around just because I had them. An’s mum brought a Rajasthani tapestry and I brought some Indian knick knacks from around the house as decor.

I started off by showing the kids the flag and asking them to name the colours, then pointed to India on the map. The map had landmarks like the Taj Mahal and animals marked, and An’s mum insisted we point these out so I did, though I think it didn’t really register with the kids.

Then An’s mum showed the kids how to say Namaste, and told them about how welcoming is important in India, and showed them a rangoli she had made out of coloured rice and lentils. The kids were itching to touch it.

She also showed the kids examples of Indian clothes that I had brought.

Then, I talked to them about transport. I showed them pictures of a train, bus and taxi in India and a toy auto I had was passed around, which the kids loved. I then passed around examples of Indian money, which again they loved but it made the teachers nervous and was frankly quite distracting.

Then, I showed them Gandhi on the Rs500 note and told them about non-violence and how we shouldn’t hit (because Nene and a few boys had been hitting each other in class).

Then we told them a good way to calm down and be peaceful is by doing yoga, and showed them a few yoga moves. The reverberations when we said Om were amazing and the kids really calmed down. Well, at least Nene’s class. The older kids giggled and Mimi’s class could not master the tree pose at all (frankly, that pose is silly to do with two-and-a-half-year-olds).

And that was it. Easy Peasy. Frankly, it was a bit TMI. Next year, I’ll whittle it down to a maximum of three topics, one of which will be a Bollywood dance. And I’ll wear a sari*. I struggled to find Indian clothes in my wardrobe since I’d left my better outfits in India and only have a couple of kurtis which I wear so often I didn’t think were special enough. You see how I’m assuming I’m going to do this next year right?

The kids drove me mad in the morning, by fussing about their clothes. Nene flat out refused to wear the salwar pants and then started complaining about the kurta. I said he could wear jeans, and my helper ended up putting him in bermuda shorts and I ended up yelling at her because I was so stressed. In the end, we compromised with a kurta (with the neck turned down because that was what was itching) and denim shorts.

I shouted at Nene saying, “You’re an Indian kid.” To which he responded: “I’m not.” Ouff.

Mimi was excited to wear her pavadai but the top part of it turned out to be too loose and wanted her to wear a tighter choli on top. She refused, and threw a tantrum. Finally, our helper put it on her at school and she looked very cute and got a lot of compliments.

The hilarious thing was when I was explaining the India map, I showed them China and said, “Who’s from China here?” And Nene put up his hand. The grandparents are not going to be pleased.

Overall, I don’t think this is something worth stressing madly about like the other mums were. Yes, it is easier if two of us are doing it, but even if were just me, I would have managed. It’s 10 minutes of presentation and India is easy because Indian culture is so visible. Nevertheless, I was angsty the day before and was relieved when it was over fairly successfully.

*My goal is to learn how to tie my own sari by next year.

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