Avanee is 18 months old. She looks older because she has a full head of hair that’s usually tied up in little ponytails on either side of her head and is very active as compared to most kids her age. From the time she opens her eyes in the morning to the time she (finally) shuts them for the day, she is constantly up and about, often driving me and other caregivers up the wall with her incessant yapping and dangerous window climbing. She is almost toilet trained, is very communicative, and LOVES being around other kids.

About a month ago, on a very, very frustrated afternoon, I contemplated the idea of sending her to the playschool bang opposite my building. No no, not because I wanted to finally take my food pictures with some real props over an hour or so instead of just sitting stuff up on the window sill and clicking while she pees—because she needs to be around kids her age. MK laughed at the idea that his little princess might actually be ready for school. (Knowing him, he probably imagined her getting married and skipped a heartbeat, but that’s another story.) I was so delighted at the prospect of having her out of my hair for two hours a day that I dashed opposite and checked out the place and convinced them to give her a trial. (I know, bad mommy.) I almost bought a school bag and water bottle and tiffin box. I imagined her in their cheerful multicolored uniform. In the happy knowledge that the week-long trial starts tomorrow, I took a nap in the afternoon, next to my darling daughter, who probably thought our trip to the playschool was a fun one-off outing. (Poor her.)

And in my state of drugged-like sleep, I felt guilty to the point of tears. (No, it’s not PMS.) Guilty of having disguised my being a bad mother under the wraps of her need for activity and same-aged company. So what if she already sings “Eeya eeya oh” on cue and points to all body parts correctly? Do I really want to stuff her in a uniform at this age and have her recite the alphabet everyday? She’ll be the youngest in class and she’ll have to do another year of playschool anyway—am I OK with that? Will she be able to cope Does she really need those two hours away from home, from simple, unstructured life? Am I really such an epic failure of a mother that I can’t deal with another few months of Lakdi ki kathi 12 times a day and jumping off pillows 7 times a day? Even if I complain about other things, am I not happy to see her swing to my bad singing, watch her eyes sparkle as she sees a bird at the window, do her little dance-in-abandon as she sings “Am-ma, Ba-ba” in steady trance?

Do I really want to throw my daughter in the inevitable rat race of life a few months too early? I don’t think so. Springdale, you can wait.