Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mr. Forgetful

Yes, that could be Ayaan's middle name. He is a smart boy but when it comes to the nitty-gritties of everyday living, his mind is like a sieve.

This has been particularly frustrating when it comes to his having to keep track of his belongings at school. One day, he actually came home with nothing in his bag. Empty. No tiffins, no water bottle, no napkin, no book. Nothing. How is that even possible? Did he not notice that his bag was impossibly light? Apparently not.

I haven't kept count but conservatively speaking, he has lost at least 8 water bottles this academic year and a competing number of tiffin boxes. I have also had to cough up money to the library for a couple of borrowed books that went to school with him and never came back. The number of items lost would actually have been substantially higher if he hadn't brought some of the forgotten stuff back the next day but some of them just seemed to have disappeared into a black hole, never to be seen again.

I tried a variety of approaches to get him to remember to pack all his stuff when he was leaving school:
  • At his Bombay school, his teacher asked us to let him pack his own bag. The thinking was that if he was the one to put things in, he would remember to bring them back as well. The only difference this made was the added stress of ensuring that he remembered to put all the requisite items into his bag every morning!
  • I tried the guilt angle that comes so easy to us mothers. I gave him lines like 'Do you know how much money I have spent on your water bottles in the last few months?' and 'I have so much to do today and now I have to go and buy you a new bottle for school tomorrow because you lost your original bottle and the extra bottle this week.' To no effect.
  • I scolded him every time he forgot something. The only difference this strategy made was making his homecoming more unpleasant.
  • I went with the punitive approach for a while. I told him he wasn't allowed to take a book to school with him for a week every time he lost something. This meant that he went for months without a book in his schoolbag. Eventually, we got called in to school for some behavioural issues and it turned out that the book was his refuge when he needed to retreat from the over-stimulation of the classroom. Sigh. So yeah, the books are back in his bag.
  • I tried the materialistic approach - taking five rupees from his piggy back every time he lost something. This only made me feel like a regular grinch and things kept not making their way back home regardless of potential money loss.
Then one day, I had an epiphany. I love lists. I cannot function without lists. I am in awe of people who walk into grocery stores with a list that is entirely inside their heads. And people who can throw things into a suitcase without one. Or cook without a recipe, for that matter. And given that he is my son, maybe this would be something that would work with him too. So here's what went on his bag a few weeks ago. 


For the first week or so, there was almost no change. But I stuck it out and every morning when he left home, I would remind him to check his list before he left school for the day. And you know what, it is starting to work. We still have days when something or the other has been forgotten at school but the frequency of these incidents has come down dramatically. 

Like the saying goes, 'if at first you don't succeed, try try try again'. Applies to parenting as much as anything else.

19 comments:

  1. So cute! Ayaan is so cute! :) I like how he is troubling you like this! :) Work hard my dear Ro! :) Just today I went rummaging in the disgusting pile of jackets and what not in the big "lost and found" in KB's school to find his vest. Last month he forgot his sweat shirt so I let it go just to avoid looking through this pile...but this vest was somewhat new and v useful on semi cold days.
    But good like mother, like son. Glad that lists are working for him!

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  2. Aiyo, poor guy...but I can understand your need to work on the forgetfullness :)

    I loved your idea honestly...it makes so much sense...

    Big hugs to him okie?

    PS - Tarana doesnt go to the same school as him? because if thats the case, you can ask Tarana to remind him, thats why I used to do to my forgetful elder brother :)

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    1. Tarana does go to the school but she is nursery and leaves hours before him. But I shall keep this mind for when their school hours match.

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  3. He is just his father's son, Roh. Give him a break. :) Manisha

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    1. Sigh. Don't even get me started on how many tiffins we have lost to Jai's office!

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  4. Wow! You have saved my day. Going to try this. I've got 2 boys - both who would forget to come home if they could. I've donated a thousand pencils, erasers, boxes and handkercheifs to school :)

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    1. :o) Let me know how it goes.

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  5. I was laughing all through the post as these are the approaches I have tried too. The specific color school sweater there one day and not the other. Phew. The idea you came up with is just brilliant. Here add another feather to your cap :)

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    1. Ha ha, yes. I will put the feather in the cap that I will need to wear to hide my bald head after I lose my hair to all this stress :-p

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  6. This looks like such a super idea! I went through a similar phase with D too, though it settled down after the first few weeks. In her case, I also put it down to everything being provided at her Mont school, and going to a "big" school and taking care of her stuff took a while to sink in.

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    1. Well, mine has been out of pre-school for a while so I felt more drastic measures were called for :oP

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  7. Anonymous12:23 am

    Brill :)

    Chox

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  8. This is one awesome idea. If my son has inherited any of my love for lists and following them, then I think this will work for him. I could see him leaning to the lose-stuff-at-school side during the Mont stint in Bangalore!!

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  9. Anonymous1:28 am

    The best part was Mommy Ro was forgetful while writing the list..:-D She wrote bottle twice...n thn wrote Jacket...very very cute post- Mini

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    1. :-p I was hoping people would let that slip. Damn. ;o)

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  10. Nice idea! And i totally sympathize with Ayaan.. I used to lose stuff regularly too at his age

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    1. Ha! I, on the hand, totally sympathize with your mother.

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    2. Also, totally impressed that you are already finding the time to blog hop AND post comments :o)

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