Monday was my daughter’s first day in primary school.
It is a bit of a challenge for J as she is not the most sociable child in the world. And life must be too overwhelming for her as she will be surrounded by more than 350 students of the same age – out of the sudden. Not to mention her seniors in the afternoon session.
Before I accompanied her to school on her first day, I had resolved not to stay there long enough to make her miss home. What I planned to do was to send and put her properly in place; then I would leave.
Plans remained plans. After I sent her there, I told J that I would leave the school. As expected, with teary eyes, she shook her head disagreeing with my intention. I insisted and walked away.
In fact, I didn’t leave the school. I was standing some distance away peeping J – together with K. I noticed that J couldn’t contain her emotions and she was crying. One of the mothers who knows me told me that J was crying and she was looking for me. I did my best to avoid being seen by J. As I knew, if I did, the matter would further be made complicated.
Being an equally emotional person, I felt sorry J had to go through this little “trauma.” When I saw her cry, I felt like I wanted to hug her and cry together.
Of course I didn’t.
I had to resist the temptation of consoling J. I had to let J have the opportunity to learn to cope with the new environment all by herself. I can’t do it for her. She has to do it. Though I felt bad inside, I knew what was best for J.
I was still there… from far… observing. J went through her first school assembly. I was pleasantly surprised that the school that J goes to has incorporated Di Zi Gui. This is being taught to students before classes start. The first lesson was learning how to bow properly when you see a teacher or an elderly person.
I only left the school after seeing J off to her class.
But when I picked her up in the evening, she looked normal and talkative as usual. The first thing she told me was: “Daddy, I cried in school.”
How is that for an opening line? I pretended I didn’t know and I asked her why. She kept quiet.
On the second day, right after she woke up, J told me and my wife that she didn’t want to school. She had another round of crying in the morning. I told her she should give herself a week to try it out. I told her everyone needed time to get used to new things and new environments. She didn’t resist and agreed in silence.
Today is the third day. J was crying again when I sent her to school. But I left her right after I escorted her to the hall where students gathered. This time is for real. I indeed left the school, no more peeping. This time I didn’t leave with heavy heart. I guess as a father I also have to learn to let go, besides the children.
Come next week, I guess things will be better for J once she gets used to the new school and makes new friends. Finger crossed.
Update 13 Jan 2010 (Wednesday): Since I wrote about J’s encounter with her new school, she had been crying everyday without fail. And it got even better, she cried earlier and earlier. The best result was she started to cry right after she woke up in the morning. That happened last Thursday. But something wonderful happened yesterday, J did not cry before and during school. That was amazing and I felt so relieved that she finally settled down after 6 days in school.
Update 22 January 2010 (Friday): On Monday, the Headmistress was standing guard at the entrance. She told every parent that starting this week (the third week), no parents would be allowed in the school compound. This was rather shocking to J as this was not made known to either parents or students. I told J that I had to stop at the entrance and she had to go in by herself. The moment I finished talking, she started to cry. Sensing that J could not accept this sudden news, I talked to the HM and this time be given an exception. From tomorrow onwards, I promised to her to let J go in by herself. She agreed.
Came next day, I told J that she could do it and she was doing it in the past two weeks (I was just merely following her from behind). She couldn’t take it and she cried the moment we reached the school entrance. I insisted that she had to go in by herself – which she did. However, from Wednesday onwards, she is doing well. No more crying and she can go in to school by herself. I did offer her to go in together with her friends (make arrangement with other parents to arrive at school at the same time) but she did not say anything. I guess we don’t need that anymore because she has adapted to the new environment already. Phew!