It takes years of practice to get the rigorous, living-by-the-timetable, early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise schooling routine right and just a little more than a year of Pandemic-stricken online schooling to first ease and then forget it altogether.
A year is enough to forget a lot of things. It can even trick our minds into concluding that all that we deemed normal was actually exciting.
For instance, on the other side of my children making an uneventful journey every morning from their bed to the study table in casuals encountering an occasional challenge of dodging a soft toy to get to online school have got them to reminisce about the joys of the before-Corona mornings of being dragged out of their beds, pulled out of washrooms, rushing through a haze and barely making it to the school bus almost always forgetting a thing or two, with as much nostalgia, longing and excitement as one would recall the joyous thrill of ziplining your way to school.
As for getting back to school, my son, Sid, has been bubbling with excitement since his vaccination record has been updated and our consent form sent. As much as I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that my nagging, overbearing company has a little something (a lot) to do with his excitement to get back to school and friends, it would do us a lot of good to get back to some sort of normality.
When the back-to-school preparations began, we found ourself floundering in the otherwise practised drill of gearing up for the school year. Sorting out the uniforms was a good way to start. It did not take us long to realise that uniforms needed to be bought and not just sorted as he had outgrown all the five sets that were fished out from their hiding places. Shoes were new but definitely needed replacing and mostly all the socks had become puppets. An appointment at the uniform store was made for the following day.
The uniform store assigned us a young enthusiastic salesman who took us through what appeared to be a crash course on the back-to-school shopping drill. We began by trying out sanitised trial pieces to decide on the uniform sizes. When, upon trying the blue sports tee and wondering aloud if he could swap his house colour tee for the blue one that matched his mask, I knew that it was high time that my son, who during the earlier years had simply refused to even try another house colour, had to get back to regular school.
After the shoes were bought, the salesman nudged us toward checking out school accessories on our way to the cash counter.
As we skimmed through the rows of school accessories, making a mental note to avoid this section all together when I would be bringing my daughter along, the eager salesman casually wondered if we would be needing a new school bag. His question got me digging deep into my memory for a mental picture of Sid and a school bag together while my son had a look that bordered between confusion and amazement. The school bag, a regular school item that had been absent through the year and a half of online school, had been conveniently forgotten.
As we made our way to the counter, I realised that sailing on the learning-to-live-with-the-virus curve of the new normal where the mask, sanitiser, laptop and fish-eye camera came foremost, it was time to bridge our current life with our before-Corona life that has been forgotten and now require relearning; a delightful reminder that we are slowly and steadily inching towards what we once deemed normal.
For now, I am on a lookout for a crash course to relearn and revise the back-to-school drill. I wonder if this one will be online or on-site.
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha