My son repeated his 12th standard

One moment you’ll see her moderating a programme with Shah Rukh Khan wearing her trademark classy saree and jhumkas, soon after, clad in kurta and jeans she’d be trudging off to a rural locale to train journalists. By day she models, sings, espouses causes and curates film shows Vasanthi Hariprakash is a sensitive mom by night. Yet, two years ago when her son didn’t get through the college he wanted for lack of grades it brought her down. “Management seat” was the only option left when her son asked her to give him “one year Amma.” 

For every child in India, 12th standard boards is a monster make-or-break year. Every year hundreds of students fail to make the cut or meet the standards parents or they themselves put themselves up to. What does a parent do then? What options does one have?

Here they are:

a. Support your child

b. Support your child

We at feel strongly for this tiger mother who took a stance to support her child in his decision to stay back a year, reapply and happily and meritoriously go to the college he wanted to. It was a tough year for the Hariprakashs. Naysayers called it a bad decision. Friends moved on and in today’s interconnected world it is hard miss pictures of batchmates from colleges all over the world. Some asked “what if the year also he is not satisfied with his results, will you make the child reappear again?”

Amid all this Vasanthi says her son worked on the subjects he was lagging behind in and continued his sports practice. “Even after the results were out appearing for interviews, councillors, universities, first round – pah, those three months the suspense kills you,” she says. Finally when the letter of acceptance arrived, it was sweet solace for the family.

Over to Vasanthi whose heartfelt narrative is one of the best things mothers can read:

Did you see I put out a picture & post the day before, sharing the Good News in my life?

It was of me with Anirudh, my son, who enters college this August 1 to begin a brand new life-phase - as a hostelite 400 km away from home:(( - for a course he had told me the first time while he was a tenth grader that he wanted to do: Industrial engineering.

While each of those hundreds of Likes on the picture and every of your warm wishes still coming in, gladden my mommy heart, I can tell you one thing: This time, last year, I wasn't exactly smiling. At least not this widely.

Anirudh hadn't got great grades in his boards, not the kind of grades in the era of centum scores, which meant he didn't get the course he wanted, in the college that hee wanted. He and I went visiting to a few engineering colleges and when we came out of one reputed one in Bangalore, he told me while I was trying to start the car, "Amma, can you & Appa give me one year? I want to reappear for all my exams next year. I want to get in, only on my own merit."

I too was relieved – in fact proud deep inside - that he did not let me go the route that led to the dreadful Donation Seat.

Just one year of faith is all he sought. And in that one year, he would discover himself better than in any paid up Personality Devp course I could foresee..

Promised easier. Once back home, discussions, arguments flowed. "Too risky, when you show your biodata how will you explain the 1-year break". "This is 12th standard my dear, the ultimate. It will stay on your cv all your life." "It is aaall good for America, here marks matter..get into any course for now, gap not good." The spouse and the close family had their rightful worries.

Friends had advice for me too: "You should listen to kids only so much. What will he know? As a mother you should take a stand sometimes and say no.. "

The 'Gap Year' - as it's fashionably called I figured out - proved to be a long one. Pouring over books he had already read a year back must have been so terribly boring, that too studying all alone without the joy of a classroom, staying motivated to wait out the next 8 months. For Hari & me, it was the Answering part. Well meaning friends who want to know "So how much did your son score? What course did he get into?" . But you know what. I discovered that it is fine when you tell your circles plainly without any shame or embarrassment, People understand.

Of course it may have been a lot harder for the two grandmothers but they didn't let their anxieties get to the boy once. I was in fact at some time liking the fact that Anirudh now had some time as he had no school, to do his favourite football training & workouts. And he did.

What helped greatly was the unstinted support from his teachers esp his principal of DPS North Manju Arif whose words were such solace to me when I know of schools that make life miserable for 12thboarders: "Don't worry.. Can you imagine what it must be like for him, a thousand neurons must be bombarding that young head.. Let's not make it tougher for the kids" That compassion is what we need in our education today!

When the exam marathon came, re-appearing, re-paying fees, re-going to exam centres in back of the beyond, and the re-writing. Not easy on us as suspense mounted how he would fare, not easier at all on the teen though we were dying to ask him & resisted bigtime to check, "So how did the exam go this time?"

The toughest bit I sensed though he didn't mention, was of his own classmates going ahead with their own lives and courses some here some abroad, checking out of good intent no doubt on whatsapp etc, "So dude how is it going? Any help bro, just ask". Cut to the chase, when the mail from the (name withheld on request) college hit my mailbox the same time as his, "Dear Anirudh, you have been selected.. " we mother & son quietly & deeply hugged, and I told him what I had told him more than once through the year.

Dreams, sometimes, take their own sweet time in coming true.

As parents, you not only need to be there for your kids, you need to be with them too.