After one year of adjustments and fine tuning, my life was trying to run smoothly when there came an important milestone. My son had turned two and it was time to select a playschool for him. I asked around, visited some of them and finally settled on one of them. It was near to house, had very good teachers and environment and was recommended by one and all. Finally the first day of school came and with lots of apprehension, I left him at school with the message of calling me immediately if he was not comfortable.
It was the first time for me and him both to be apart and I was anxious. Within half an hour came the expected call. He was crying too much and was refusing to stay or play. I went there and there he was waiting for me with a tear stained face. Tears came to my eyes too and the teacher advised to take it slow and come back next day. We came back and I tried to make him understand that he would have to stay without Mom for some time during the day. The next day the same story happened and he came back in half an hour. It was proving to be the toughest job I had ever done. After having a brainstorming session with the Principal, we came up with the idea of taking it one step at a time by coming to school for half an hour, then 1 hour and so on. So we started with the send-offs, waiting in school for half an hour, till he was on playground and then brought him back. Next week, it was playground time plus the introduction to class. Things again came to a halt as he refused to enter the classrooms……….
What do we do now??? All the hardwork was going…and then inspiration…let him have free play with whatever he wanted in that half an hour. Obviously, like any other 2 year old boy, he was obsessed with anything on wheels. So lots of trucks and cars and trains came into picture and again we succeeded. Slowly we kept increasing the time with different tactics each week.
Life was a little easy now, since my son was going to almost 3 hours of school. I began to relax and started thinking of going back to school myself. And then came the parent – teacher conference day. We went thinking we’ll know how he was doing in class. But then came the bombshell.. the teacher thought he was still not ready to leave home , was silent during the class and we should consider keeping him at home till he was three. I just couldn’t believe it. All those discussions, encouragements, strategies were coming to a nought. I just couldn’t give up like that since it was my labour going waste too. I wanted him to start enjoying company of other children and learn to be more independent since he was excessively attached emotionally to me .
I asked the principal couple more days for consideration and kept thinking about how to motivate him to go to school.
Then we realized we’d been trying to send him to school but never really explained to him how he would benefit from it. Again trucks came to my rescue and every time he would point a truck to me, all excited, I would say , yes the guy in the truck went to school everyday and that’s why he gets to drive the big machine. It took just 2 days for the little guy to understand the logic behind and on the D-Day, his teacher was all excited. She couldn’t understand the 180 degree change in his attitude and we revealed the secret.
It’s been more then a year now and he loves going to school, so much so that its difficult to stop him on weekends 🙂 There was a lot of support from the teachers and school, but I would say this was a battle which me and him won together !!!!!
- Buy a laptop and get online – Things in US work so differently that it gets confusing for new people like us. Being online gives you all the information you want , at the pace you want. And believe me, there are so many things to know to become settled in to the way of life here
- Get a car – Wheels are paramount , you can’t do anything without it. So learn driving, get a DL, and buy a car, used or new .
- Find your local Craigslist – It’s a lifesaver. You are virtually starting a new life and need everything, and by everything I mean EVERYTHING. right from the bed and mattress to vacuum cleaners, dishwashing liquid to lamps. If you go about buying everything new, you’ll be ruined. On Craigslist, you find really good deals on virtually everything, so go for it.
- Get a driver’s license – To get anywhere, you have to drive. There are no corner retail stores, where u could get most of the daily requirement stuff. Specially if you have a kid and hubby’s off to office, u need a way to reach places- schools, parks, stores, playgroups, so get your DL as soon as you can. Also its the primary ID here, which is required at a large number of places, so it’s convenient to have it at the earliest
- Get an apartment in a centrally located community – In the beginning, you would have to get out multiple times in a day, if the apartment is near a mall ( like in Mira Mesa), it becomes so much easier to go buy whatever u need and also to go out to just socialize.
- Apt should have a common space – This common space like a common laundry or a nearby park are the places where you would be able to meet people and make friends. In the beginning specially, you tend to get lonely and seeing another Indian face brings so much joy. I met most of my friends in the laundry and they proved to be my lifeline during the early days
- Find the nearest Indian store – usually a whole complex with temple, you can find it online. It will have mostly all the required Indian groceries. Some of the fresh produce stores also carry Indian groceries
- Find the nearest Wal-Mart – You’ll end up there every weekend 😀
- Locate the nearest park and library – Especially if you have kids. You’ll find plenty of books, movies and kids find other children to play with
When I entered my new abode, I couldn’t believe it. It was a one bedroom apartment in a big community and it was sooo small!!!! Unbidden tears sprang up, as I sank on the floor. How could I live in such a small place, how would three of us fit in 1 bedroom, how will I survive without everything I had earlier? As usual my son came to my rescue. His needs were the same, whether it was his old home or new, and he wanted lunch. So forgetting everything I set about the most important task, setting up the kitchen ,with whatever small things we had managed to buy.
First few days passed in a whirlwind of buying groceries, furniture and other necessities. Once all the suitcases were unpacked, everything arranged in closets, an eerie silence set in. What should we do to while away all this time? I didn’t want to buy a TV as I wanted to keep my son away from it as long as possible. So we settled for a laptop and it helped me to learn more about this new country.
Slowly I started to absorb the new environment, different people, different language, unbelievably big stores, disciplined traffic. What struck me as odd the first month was the need to travel for buying even the simple necessities. There are simply no mom and pop shops, where you can go and bu y all you need. One had to go to 3 different store to buy vegetables, spices and other groceries. But I guess it was also due to the fact that the way we prepared our food was different from the americans.
I had it all there – beautiful new baby, comfortable house, succesful career, all my family nearby and the cherry-on -the-cake , maids, to do all cleaning, washing, cooking, in short everything except feeding me and putting me to sleep. Life was treating me nicely. And then my hubby got bitten by the wandering bug. He claimed his work was not satisfying and let us move to land of opportunities , USA. I dithered, trying to best of my ability to try and persuade him to not leave everything behind, but to no avail.
And thus we arrived on the promised land, the land of choice and opportunity. 2 suitcases, a toddler, lots of hope and in my case, apprehension.
The first impression on getting out of LA international was: concrete. It was grey everywhere, the sky, the roads, the buildings. I was a little subdued, but not my little one. It was his dream come true . So many things on the move, cars, trucks, tractor- trailers, all so thrilling. His excitement was contagious and I started to see the things which I had not noticed. There was discipline on the road and no honking!!!! That was such a relief. It was quiet outside and when we reached San Diego, it was Beautiful. Green trees, blue sky, and wide open spaces, maybe it wasn’t so bad a decision afterall. 🙂