“I want to go to Egypt.” It was more of rhetoric than a conversation starter.
“And why such a pyramid of thought,” my friend asked while scrolling his mobile phone.
“I will see the mummies,” pat came the reply.
“Why waste so much money to see dead mummies when you can see living mummies at a parent-teacher meeting,” he said without looking up.
It took me some seconds to absorb and analyse what he meant.
I already knew one thing: if one wants to see the best of the cars in the town, school pickup or drop zone is the best place. Most jazzy and big cars come to the school and drop tiny, cute kids. It is more like a scene right out of some sci-fi movie, where lovable little creatures come out of spaceships and march in a line.
I had always shunned parent-teacher meetings. Major reason was the timing. It was always during office hours. I forever pondered over this issue. School guys schedule such meetings during their own working hours, very conveniently forgetting that these are working hours for others also.
My logic was: what can a teacher tell me about my child that I already don’t know? I even know what time and date, the child was conceived, and have known the kid ever since birth. We, the parents, teach the kids about basic colours, alphabets and counting.
Visitors act as external examiners. Whenever someone drops in for a cup of tea or a drink, we start our own little circus. “Beta, where is the fan?”
I don’t know what is being shown off: smartness of the kid or effectiveness of our training. And most of the time, both fail, embarrassing moments in front of the visiting dignitary.
That’s where the teachers takeover. So, basically as a parent, I know the genetics and capabilities of my child better than the teacher. Still, encouraged by the comment of my friend, I decided to attend the next parent-teacher meeting.
“I shall be going to the school today to attend the PTM,” I announced for the benefit of my wife and kid, while standing in front of the mirror and adjusting my tie.
The kid looked at the mom. The mom looked at the kid. They both looked at me. Expressions on their faces were mixture of bewilderment, worry and horror. Those expressions would have been more suitable, had I announced that I am having a heart attack. The mom could read the pleading eyes of the kid and said: “How can you leave office? I will attend the meeting, as always.”
Request denied. I shall go. I could not tell her that I shall be saving money by not visiting Egypt to see dead mummies.
The atmosphere at school was more like a carnival. Corridors in front of all classes were full of parents, mostly moms. And yes, they were all dressed to kill. I had to try hard to stop my eyes popping out from the sockets. A few were holding their kids, others were leaning against walls, but majority was discussing each others’ kids.
Mothers would approach the teacher one by one to learn new things about their own kids. The teacher’s comments ranged from “this is such a nice kid” to “I am really upset with this kid”.
Expressions of the mothers were dictated by the teacher’s observation. The mother of the good kid would walk out all smiles and head held high. The mother of the not-so-good kid would be in a hurry to walk out, dragging the child by the wrist, to report it to the father who would then act as a bad cop.
“Your child can do better, if more efforts are put,” I was told. Two hours out of office to learn this pearl of wisdom.
“Thanks man, for the tip.” I told my friend when we met next. “You go regularly for the PTMs?”
“No, I went only once.” He said nonchalantly.
Now, that was not in line with his advice to me.
I raised my eyebrow in askance.
"The teacher reported about me also. She sent a note home: ‘If the father of the child starts taking as much interest in the child as he was taking in the teacher, the child can do wonders’.
The wife barred me from attending PTMs" He said

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