Friday, June 26, 2015

Those difficult first days

First days can be terrible. You've spent six years at home, after all. Coming to this new place you've never seen before, trying to adjust yourself to it, isn't easy, therefore. It takes time. For six years, you've spent time with your mother and father. Meeting new people and accepting them as your new role models will be tough.

That's why you need patience. Why you need to adjust. The first few days and weeks, yes, will be pressurising. But live through them all, and you will begin to relish all those 13 years you spend.

I know a mother whose son hated school. Didn't like it. Didn't want to go there. Perhaps this was because he had grown so attached to her, but the truth was that no matter what day it was, he would sit outside his class watching and waiting for her to come. She never did. But he would do this every day, so much so that he didn't pay much attention to what the teachers were saying.

It took some time for him to realise that his mother wasn't going to come. For six hours every day, therefore, he had to bear with it. He didn't like that. Waiting for mothers at school isn't easy. We are talking about six hours spent over five days a week, getting to know people your age and other people you've never met before. You feel intimidated. You want to get out.

The mother found a solution. The boy loved numbers. He loved to calculate. When a few weeks had gone and he still wasn't interested in going to school, she broke down some figures for him. She told him that while there are 24 hours in a day, you sleep through eight of them and attend school through another six. That leaves out 10 hours spent away from school and sleep.

She then revealed some more numbers to the boy. She calculated the number of hours he spent at home every year. The number was 7,590. The boy asked "How?" The mother explained. There are 365 days each year. That includes 90 vacation days and 80 more weekend-days. 90 added to 80 is 170. Multiply that by 24 and you get 4,080 hours.

She then factored in school-days. That's 365 minus 170, which is 195 days (or 4,680 hours). Take out the six hours spent at school every day, which leaves 18 hours at home (eight of which are slept through), and you have 3,510 hours at home. Add that to the number of hours in vacation time and weekends, and you have a total of 7,590 hours. Not bad, given that there are 8,760 hours every year.

The boy was amazed. Numbers fascinated him. Given that he was spending barely 13 percent of his time every year at school, he never felt upset again. He went to school as he usually did. But without dismay or anger. The numbers had done the trick.

There are other ways of course. First days aren't that hard, provided you know how you get through them. The truth is that while going away from home isn't bearable, that's what life is going to be. You are not going to live with the same people. Not all the time. You are going to meet new people, live with them, and even separate as time goes by.

But I don't think this is anything to get worried about. Experience after all is exciting. Life is all about new experiences. It's about getting to know new things. The world would be dull without them, wouldn't it? That is why you need them. Why you need to bear up with getting away from what you love. And the reason isn't too hard to see. You can't always be with what you like. You need to separate. Life, let's not forget, isn't all about what you like. That at any rate is what first days teach you.

Written for: The Nation JEANS, June 20 2015