Primary One Milestone: Better than expected?

toby in schoolAfter a week, Primary One finally took a toll on our 6-year-old.

He had been holding up well considering we’d expected tears and tantrums going to primary school. In fact, he even volunteered on the first day to be the student who prompts the class to stand and greet the teacher. Somewhat surprised, I asked how it came to be: The teacher asked who had a loud voice and he raised his hand. By default, he has now become class monitor and takes down names of classmates who are naughty when the teacher is out of class.

“I’m not sure about this… won’t it make him unpopular?” My husband was concerned.

“Well, leadership isn’t about being a people-pleaser,” I shrugged (I should know!). “Anyway, this is but one of many life lessons he’s got to learn sooner or later growing up.”

More immediately, my son is learning the life lesson of what it means to be brave and stand on his own against his fears. After the first two days of school, when P1 parents were allowed to lurk around the canteen at recess time, the lament of “why is school so long?” (yes, it unfortunately is for a 6-year-old who’s not been to full-day childcare) has become “I miss Mummy”.

The wave of sadness overcomes him at recess – possibly because everyone who knows how long he takes to eat has scared him about the problem he’s going to have with the limited break time. Yesterday, en-route to the canteen stall to buy his much anticipated sushi, he “couldn’t control it – the tears just came”. So he went back to his table empty-handed.

At night, he broke down and talked about all the “what-if’s” – What if his form teacher isn’t around for him to go to for help? What if there’s no teacher in the canteen to help him call Mum? What if there’s no one in the general office because they all went out for lunch… (Well, I must say my husband’s preparation training of what-if’s has worked – perhaps too well…)

“I want to talk to the school counsellor (the children were already introduced to her, bless the school!) but I don’t know how to contact her,” he said, in-between tears.

“Why don’t you talk to my school counsellor?” I offered.

“Who’s that?”

“Gary Koh.”

“That’s my father!!” he wailed.

“He’s a school counsellor,” I tried.

“It’s a different school!”

(Okay, not funny and not helping, Mum!)

Today, I snuck into his snack box a few riddles and jokes I’d copied on post-it notes, and told him there’d be a surprise for him at recess. Hopefully that cheers him up.

It makes me wonder why the big talk about P1 is all about choice of school and school of choice. I think it’s more about growing up, milestones and parenting. Our family has entered a wonderful phase for impartation of values and learning together, with promises of countless memories that could be cherished by my son for the rest of his life.

“Yay! It’s Library Day today!”

“Mum, I luuuvvve PE!” (after his first PE class)

“Chinese is boring.” (Day 1)

“Chinese was better today. But my Chinese teacher hardly smiles.” (Day 2)

“Chinese was good! It was fun! And I saw my teacher smile.” (Day 3: Phew!)

“How did you do it, Mum?” (First close encounter with his school principal personally handing him his wallet in class – I met her when I returned to pass him his wallet he’d dropped in the car and she offered to take it to him.)

My son has grown up! And as parents, we’ve made the first step in letting go. It all seems too soon; our babies grow up too fast… but I’m a proud Mum!

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