It’s an occasion I wasn’t quite sure how to celebrate so I chose the next best thing; write about it.
Nothing earth-shattering, just that it was Tyke’s first day at school. Pre-school, not those repositories of meanness called high-schools or an institute of higher learning. Just a pre-school. What made it significant for me was that it wasn’t a situation where you’d leave the child at a daycare or a babysitter so that you could run errands. This was the start of structured learning.
Not making mountains out of hills but it occured to me that he’ll have free access to other opinions. He already uses our own techniques to police us; for example, if I utter expressions of frustration on the phone he’ll quickly wag his finger at me with a “no no daddy, no say” because that’s what I tell him if he picks up something from the tube that he shouldn’t. What other perspectives will we be compared against (with?)? When teachers teach, children imbibe and parents learn. My experience as a parent is driven by what I learn on the job. I want to be receptive to other opinions too and admittedly, teachers are more qualified to voice those opinions. So here’s to keeping an open mind.
On the other hand, I’m delighted the young one now gets an opportunity to make friends, develop his personality and exercise judgment. Mommy San recounted an interesting experience when she first visited the school for admissions. During the tour Tyke picked up a toy which attracted the attention of another child, who tried to grab it from him. Tyke is pretty tall for his age so he effortlessly held the toy out of reach. Enraged, the other boy moved to strike him. Tyke chastized him with an indignant “NO HITTING!” and drew the attention of the teacher in charge. The boy reached for the toy again and this time Tyke pushed him away. I was happy to hear about the adherence to protocol and the ability to assert himself when all else failed. Even at my age I swing wildly between either extreme.
Perhaps the most bittersweet experience today was one of parting with our child. The first babysitting event had sparked a week-long debate on propriety, precautions and paranoia. At least the child was inside the house. A school expected us to hand over our child into their care for a few HOURS?! Overwhelmed with TV-driven visuals of tearful kids making their way inside the gates of Mordor as anxious parents fidgeted, we worried about our ability to maintain composure. We decided it would be prudent to drop him to his class, make small-talk with the teacher and walk off, all deaf ears and blind eyes.
As we walked him to his class I imagined profound visuals, metaphors that captured the enormity of the occasion. Mommy San didn’t meet my eye as she anxiously looked ahead. As we entered the class Tyke let out a whoop of joy and ran for the toys. We took a few pictures, chatted with the teachers and decided to quickly exit stage left. Even though I had decided I wouldn’t, I steeled myself for Tyke’s cry of abandonment and looked over my shoulder at him. He had seen us walking away and looked up for a brief moment. Then, as if to say “OK folks, drive safe and see you in a bit” he casually turned back to his toys and his new classmates.
Then he was lost in a haze of delight and discovery.
We got to the car and laughed at our own emotional stupidity. Clearly, he was going to be fine.
To my son’s teachers – take care of him. He’s a wonderful, loving, enthusiastic, friendly boy. I know he’ll make you proud.
To my son – Respect your teachers, make friends and have lots of fun doing so.
All the very best.