I never thought I would be sending my kid to school so early but after a chat with one of my friends who is a primary school teacher, I decided to send Emilee to Pre-Nursery/Nursery 1 the year she turns 3. That would have been January 2018. After inquiring with two to three nearby preschools, I was kind of settled with one and paid a deposit to ‘chope’ a place for her. Then it so happened that another preschool I had asked about their programmes earlier, suddenly emailed to say they were going to start a full-day playgroup (PG) class. I thought it was no harm going down for the information session. The principal advised me to put Emilee in PG first as she would not be 2.5 years old yet by January. Hubby and I thought since she’ll be going to PG, why not put her in earlier. It would serve as a trial period for her and if we really found this school unsuitable, we still had that place in the other school.
Well, I must have been too optimistic about Emilee adjusting to full-time school quite easily coz it is the third week of school now and she’s still crying. I could accompany her for the first three days and while there, I saw my little girl “grow up”. She fed herself breakfast on the first day — quite a feat for her as she has always been fed at home. She knows how to self-feed but we’ve never let her do that fully for herself partly coz she’s generally a fussy eater and for fear that she’ll take too long to complete her meal. She didn’t want to eat lunch which I reckoned it was coz the meal was porridge. She suspect she doesn’t quite like porridge. We only stayed for half-day as the teachers explained that it might be overwhelming for the kids as this is a new environment and schedule for them.
The second day went by much better. While Emilee still clung to me at times, there were moments where she would forget I was there and played with her teachers. She ate lunch quite well and even fell asleep for her nap quite easily. She only cried when she woke up and couldn’t find me. I suspect she would have slept longer had her classmate not cough and stirred her from her sleep.
Emilee seemed to know something was coming up on the third day. She was exceptionally clingy and teary. She refused to walk to the toilet to wash her hands. When I tried to leave her side for a few minutes by telling her I needed to use the loo, she would say no and start to cry. In the end, we stayed for only half the day. At this point, hubby felt that we should change her from full-day to half-day school as it was obvious that it wouldn’t be soon that she welcomed the idea of going to school with open arms. We decided that we would switch her back to full-day as soon as she adjusted better to school life.
D-day came and it WAS HELL. Hubby and I devised a plan that he would bring her in to school instead of me so that she would be less sticky towards us and more accepting of her school. So we told her I needed to use the loo while hubby brought her in. As I walked away, I could hear her cry for me. Felt my heart sink but had to stay strong and not turn back for her. I knew of course that she would spend most of her time in school crying and not eating, so we fed her lunch at home. Everything seemed fine the moment she got home, but oh boy were we wrong. I should have known something was wrong when she refused to nap after lunch. I brushed it off as she wasn’t tired as she had napped about half an hour before lunch. As night fell and she still wouldn’t sleep, we knew something was really wrong.
She was obviously very tired, over tired in fact, but the cranky little one just wouldn’t sleep. She went back and forth from wanting my father-in-law (FIL) (her favourite person) to me and crying for videos in between. At 11.30pm, we decided to baby wear her and walk to the park. From previous experience when she was sick, she seemed to fall asleep better while someone baby weared her. Going out would also deter her from wanting to watch videos. It worked. We didn’t have to go very far before she fell asleep. Placed her back in her cot and we all prepared to turn in. An hour later, she woke up crying for me. I tried to pat her back to sleep but she refused to. Again, she went back and forth asking for FIL and me and of course, her V-I-D-E-O-S. It was as if she was too scared to close her eyes for fear that we would all disappear on her. Yes, we were experiencing her separation anxiety in the worst possible form. At 5am when she still refused to sleep, the four sleepy adults in exhaustion and desperation, decided to baby wear her again and walk in the park. Since the NTUC at the hub was opened 24 hours, we went there to check on something. The cashier aunty was surprised to see us and exclaimed: “你们这样早就起来了啊？” (“You guys are up so early?”) I could only manage a smile but inside I was just going “Aunty, you really don’t want to know.”
When we reached home, I placed the finally-sleeping Emilee on our bed next to me, while hubby went to crash on the spare bed in her room. Obviously she wasn’t going to be fit for school the next day so thus ended our first week of school.
Hubby and I then decided that we would both walk her in to school and fetch her before lunch is served. We know that she wouldn’t want to eat lunch in school…not just yet. And so, it is our third week of this arrangement and while she still cries and wants to be carried much in school, we have seen slight improvement. Her teachers say she does participate in some activities. As for when she will stop crying, I really don’t know. Some mummies told me their kids cried for a good 2-3 months before they trot off to school happily. I just pray that that day will come sooner for Emilee.