our very own Olympian!!

Today Ria came down the steps of her school at dispersal time all beaming ear to ear. Some time back we had come to know that madam had achieved international first rank in the english olympiads . Today her medal, certificate and prize had arrived and she was presented with those during the school assembly. The fact that she had achieved something at such an early age is indeed commendable. The story behind the Olympic gold is what is really interesting and needs recording for posterity.


About 10 days before the exam I had asked Ria about her preparations, just in passing because I saw the book related to the exam in her room. She has been an avid reader and already has a pretty formidable vocabulary. The fact that she took up reading and, like her mother, loves to be with her books rather than socialize was a good thing to have happened…. both of us believe that you can never be bored in life if you love to read, there will always be a book that can keep you occupied. Thankfully the kids are picking that up and even the little one is slowly getting drawn to books. So yeah great vocabulary and yes all along from an early age she’s been a pretty confident speaker as well. Coming back to 10 days before the test, I asked and she said she’s done it all. Ok!! that was an alarming statement…. I am the sort of procrastinator who will postpone anything and everything till after the due date (have been meaning to write books all my life I guess it’ll happen from the other side of the grave) and if anyone asks me “so all done” my instant reply is “yes all set”….. chances are I might not even know what the guy is asking about! So suspecting that the guava hadn’t fallen too far from the tree I asked her to sit down and we had a talk. By the end of it we agreed to just go through the book, which has sample question papers, once before the exam just so we know what to expect. We did manage to stick to the plan and covered decent ground for the first few days but then once we had reached around 70% of the book the urgency sort of petered off.
So one fine morning my parents were visiting and Ria being the pampered grand kid decided to skip school to hang with dadi. I was like ok fine. We often skip school and go to a park nearby just so she knows there’s no pressure to perform at school and that she needs to go only if she wants to. So bunking is no big deal really. Note to the flabbergasted person reading this: try it, it works wonders for the kids, it does. Anyway so school bunked, breakfast done I sauntered into her room and again that workbook was there sitting on the shelf like a forgotten heirloom. I called out to her and said “you have just a few days till 20th for the exam come lets go over the rest of the chapters”. My moms ears perked up. She’s like “when is the test?” I said “it’s on the 20th”… so she says “what’s the date today?” I check my phone and I’m like “holy pumpkin risotto” (ummmm kaddu ki khichdi)…… I immediately called up the school and told them that we had forgotten about the test and wanted to know if coming in a little late would be ok (school starts at 8:20 and now it was already past nine). The receptionist said I’ll talk to the class teacher and get back to you, how soon can you reach? I said I can be there by 9:15. She called back as we were getting into the car “Ok mister Khan please come fast as the test has already started at 9AM”. My mom accompanied us to the school and I think all her appreciation for how calmly, safely and comfortably I drive and how I am the best driver among all the boys in the family went right out the window that day. I drove like a, well….. ok yes…. an idiot. We did manage to cover a distance that normally takes us 10 minutes in like 6 minutes but that’s still idiotic driving. Anyway so that was how she gave this exam.

The take away(s) from this story are many, again different people will take away different messages, some that stand out for me:

  1. if it’s meant to be
  2. if you like doing something and enjoy the process there’s a very good chance that you’ll get good at it
  3. a little bit of focus goes a long way
  4. always check the day and date when you wake up, your mom will not always be around to remind you
  5. kids learn from elders so if you are a procrastinator with no respect for time, social norms and formalities they will be the same. It’s a double edged sword so be very careful about what you’re passing along
  6. If she had not come first I would not have been writing this story but that does not mean I would be sulking. Test results, appreciations, scholarships, medals, achievement certificates are pointless if you know that the means were not just. If the child had spent hours mugging up the course-ware and gone and puked it all on the answer sheet to achieve a top rank I would’ve been repulsed in equal measure by the outcome. It would certainly not have earned her an ice cream. But this was sweet, this was just a reiteration of the fact that she achieved something on actual merit based upon her interests not because she slogged like an ass trying to learn by rote and achieve a target.
  7. She’s doing just fine all that we need to do is once in a while check in to make sure she has the required tools in place and is adequately stimulated. For instance I recently introduced her to Logo programming and she is on a roll, has taken to it like a fish to water. Again a logical extension of her inherent capabilities as both parents are superb programmers. Sonali has been encouraging her with craft and art, oh the truck load of supplies Amazon delivers for these three girls every month!!!
  8. The job for us as parents is to introduce them to what could be interesting stuff then set them free, let them explore and decide for themselves. Once they know they will follow through. Who knows she will be the one writing my books for me once I’m gone :)) finally end the procrastination!
  9. Oh yes most importantly, nothing is wasted ever, all the time, effort, energy, resources they will bear fruit in some manner or the other. You need to not keep checking the tree for fruit everytime after you water a plant or give it some sun shine. Similarly with kids and people you are invested in you need to resist the temptation to look for immediate results. Enjoy the journey, the destination if it arrives would be very underwhelming if you haven’t enjoyed the journey.