I did not have to go to a boarding school right from prep. But I had to stay with my brother, whose house was closer to the school. By nine I was separated from my parents and I had to learn that growing up meant learning to adapt to changes. But surprisingly, I could never come to get used to it. No matter how much further I went from home, how much longer I was separated from them – I missed them and cried all the same.
Now I am a mother. But I miss my mother all the same. I am child to her all the same – with shortcomings and craving for her love. But the difference is that, now, I know what it is like to be a mother: how much heartaches she has to go through, how much tears she has to shed and how many difficult decisions she has to make. Life has never a clear cut answer for you. You have to decide on your own. This is to say that when you are a mother, you are torn by the things you have to do that make yourself and your child cry – all because the nature of way things works in life is that no two persons can stay together all the time. Or else, you have to go hungry. This we can choose too, if we want to beg and not fend for ourselves.
My baby got sick and she could not go to her childcare centre for a week. When I took her back, she cried and clung on me. This is the third week after she got sick that she is going to school but she still hasn't gotten over it yet. The last time I took her, she clung on me and when a staff tried to take her, she caught on my jacket with all her strength – giving a very strong pull. This morning, as soon as we reached in front of her childcare, she kept saying, ‘no,no’ and more ‘no, no’. She didn't want to go in. When I went to open the outer gate, she stuck her feet on the gate and wouldn't move with me. I had to close the gate and sit with her outside to console her, to coax her and tell her that it was OK. She took my hand and was walking towards home. I had to tell her that school is a good place to be – because there are so many friends and toys. We used to sing the song, ‘School is a place I like to go because I can play with my friends and I can play many toys.’ But it doesn't work anymore. When we were struggling through this, a staff came by. She said to me, ‘You have to show that you are in control, not her.’ I said, ‘it is difficult.’ She did say that she understood it because she had been through it. But I wonder if it is really that difficult for them, taking into account the different cultures. For example, in their culture babies don’t sleep with their parents. They not only got a separate bed but they have a separate room. The thought itself is scary to me. I can’t leave my baby alone in a different room. I might be wrong, but from what I have observed, they don’t demonstrate so much love for babies. They are strict in what should and should not be done – even for babies. I grew up pampered and it doesn't matter if my baby has to grow up pampered. She will find her way and she will know what is good and bad as I did.
But coincidentally just when she was sick, one staff left the centre. That staff was the friendliest – in the sense that she was a young jovial lady who knew how to attend to babies. All babies loved her. I noticed that she was always carrying and cuddling a baby. Childcare staff usually don’t cuddle babies so much. They let them play and watch them play, to make sure that they are not fighting or falling down. But this lady was different. And my baby loved her. She would extend her arms out and my baby would go to her as she does to me. Also a week back, I saw that someone scratched her leg. There was fresh, pink mark from the nails. It went away in two days but I informed the staff. I am wondering if something is happening that is making her not want to go to school. They tell me that it is just that she is clingy to me but she usually has very good day.
But no matter how good a day she has there, when it comes to making a choice, she would rather be with me. I feel sad that she should learn to adapt from an age as young as this. I hate the fact that growth has to be so painful. She will forget all this I know, but as a mother, it is so painful. And I have to shed tears all the time I have to drop her and come back. I can only console that come November 21st and my exam will be done. If we want to stay at the park all day, we will.