Indian Expat Parent: Obsessive Compulsive Mayhem

While obsessing over finding the perfect school for my daughter, I had an epiphany

DD turned 5 this March, about a year after I turned crazy — crazy obsessed about finding the right school for her. In her five years of life, DD has attended five schools — two in India and three here. We have relocated so many times and have had to uproot her little world with us. Thankfully, she was receptive to the change each time and adapted quickly.

When she turned 4, I panicked that I wasn’t proactive enough with checking out all the schools during the school tour season. All the confusion about geo-zones, APPs, ALOs and other such acronyms didn’t help control the crazy. When I am in the obsessive-compulsive mode, nothing anybody says gets into my head. I was in the 'I have to figure out the best school for DD' zone, and I would talk only about that. Check with anyone I encountered during that time — even the lady at the checkout counter of a grocery store: Chances are I spoke to her about her child, her child’s school and her experience with it. If she didn’t have a child, I probably whined about how difficult and confusing the system is.

DH offered sound advice — I think — I don’t know, I never heard. Nothing could come in between me and my goal of finding the perfect school for DD. Not even DD. I took her to a few school tours this year, but she was thoroughly bored because she turned out to be the only kid on tour. Her preferences of school were reflective of her age — she liked a school which looked like a castle (it would be the perfect place to grow her hair and throw it out the window for her classmates to climb). So, I decided to be the grownup and take the decision that would impact my daughter’s future into my own inexperienced hands.

After spending endless hours on, and other websites remotely related to schooling, I gave up, because DH disconnected the Internet.

“It’s time for an intervention,” he said, in true How I Met Your Mother style. “We need to stop the madness that’s engulfing this house.”

My hands were twitching; I was losing valuable surfing time, and some Facebook time. “I want you to listen to me,” he started, noticing the twitch, “for your own sanity and ours.” I looked up. DH had never been so disgruntled with me, despite all the opportunities I had given him in our years together. I controlled my twitch.

“DD has changed a lot of schools for her age, and to say she has coped is an understatement. She has thrived, and surprised us with her adaptability. You need to believe in your daughter’s capability. However amazing the school, if it’s not a place she loves, it won’t work. At the same time, whatever the reviews, if she can’t wait to go to school, that’s the place for her. You need to believe that you’ve brought your daughter up with the right attitude of learning and adapting and exceling with her resources. You forget that we didn’t have half the opportunities she does, and we did okay.”

He paused and looked at me. “You need to stop obsessing. You need to let it go and trust whatever happens, happens for the best. You cannot control everything.”

That did it. That connected the circuits in my brain and allowed me think clearly. My daughter is resilient, she is great at making friends and forming relationships, she is smart and tenacious. I didn’t have any reason to be worried. I was obsessing over my own idiosyncrasies, my own perceptions. I really did need to let go, breathe a bit and, above all,  sleep.

My nap that Sunday afternoon is arguably the best I’ve ever had.

We then filled out applications for our top three choices of school and forgot about it until we received notification that DD has received admission to our school of choice. I took her to the school to let her see where she’d be heading in the fall. She loved the playground, the library and found her favorite series of books. “Mamma, my favorite book, and look, they also have popsicles!” she exclaimed. “This is the best school ever!”

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