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I’m better than you—na-nah na-nah poo- pooh!

Posted in Uncategorized by Rashmi Datt on August 29th, 2014

We met these family friends after a long time. The wife taught the nursery class in a school.

As we chit-chatted, I was ‘Darn, I don’t have much in common with her. What will we talk about?’ The accompanying feeling was that of superiority-which is a bit embarrassing for me now to admit. For after all, what does it take to manage a bunch of 5-year olds? Other than patience of course, I thought snootily.

As the conversation continued somewhat desultorily, I asked rather curiously (and patronizingly): ‘What are the challenges you face at work? What keeps you awake at night?’ ‘There was a child in my class who hadn’t settled down even after 6 months. It was almost as if she had some sort of phobia.’ The nursery school teacher (NST) said. ‘After she got used to me, she would cling to me and not leave me out of sight. This was so worrying, that I was chanting and praying for her. I hope the poor thing works through this patch.’

Her gentle eyes were full of concern. Hmm yes, being a NST requires a big heart. I grudgingly acknowledged to myself. ‘

And then I had an assistant who was more of a burden than a helper. After 30 years of doing the same job, she had become impatient with the kids. I saw her shouting at my bacchas, even raising her hand to frighten them. I was told in the staff room she is known even to pinch kids. If I gave her a job, she did it very crabbily. And as she’s such an old employee, management would not have taken kindly to eject her out of the system’.

‘Oh, and how did you deal with that?’ I leaned forward with excitement . This was a case study right out ‘People Management Skills’.

‘I had many firm conversations with her. I said to her, ‘Evelyn, I will not stand for your raising your hand on my children. Their well being is of the utmost importance to me. Our only way of dealing with them is going to be with love.’

And I also said to her, ‘Evelyn, I don’t want to see a grumpy face in the morning. I would like to see a smiling face, and interact pleasantly with you. The children also need to see a cheerful face during the day.’

‘And after a while, she and I seemed to understand each other. I was told in the staff room that the other teachers had just given up on her, and have never been able to get any productive work out of her’.

I was in awe of this ‘Nursery School Teacher’. I would probably not have managed ‘Evelyn’ so evenly, smoothly, calmly, acceptingly and graciously. Many managers I know wouldn’t have had this calm emotional tonality in tackling the situation.superiority1

The mind can be exasperating in the silly games it plays- of judging, comparing, feeling better than or less than others. It leads one through deceptive alleys. And even while it chatters, there is a restlessness- and self-dislike for the impatient, smug and priggish position it takes. Which is an attempt to compensate the insecurity from which springs the question “Am I enough?” It jumps around like the proverbial monkey. One way to NOT get into this self-beating (Why can’t I just be accepting of people? Why can’t I be in the present?) is to just observe the mind’s gymnastics . Like stepping into the balcony and watching and reporting on an interesting tamasha.




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