Wednesday, September 26, 2007

School week 3

After 9 days of being in nursery, The Little One is finally settling in. Slowly.

The school owner finally realized that she needed to be distracted with crafts or activities so that she would forget to cry.

Surely any trained early childhood education practitioner would have known that. But I have decided to keep my gripe about the school and its untrained staff separate from my quest to get The Little One used to the idea of going to school.

I am happy with her progress. DH who drops The Little One to school tells me she still cries when he leaves her. But at least I don't have to accompany her in school. The school owner says she cries on and off. She stops crying when its time they did some craft, even though they felt the craft activity may be too advance for her but she seemed to like it. Not surprising since we have been doing those activities at home.

I tried a combination of bribery (Ice cream for breakfast and cookies in her lunch box,) stickers as positive reinforcement and homeopathy and Bach flowers remedy. Pulsatilla seems to help ease the transition and Bach rescue remedy pastilles as a treat on her way to school. And prayers of course! Lots of prayers, morning, midmorning, day and night!

Already I have seen many changes in her. She is getting stronger physically, gaining better control of her motor skills. She can climb the stairs to the slide all by herself. She knows the difference between pull and push. One afternoon, while having lunch, she was making airplane noises while putting cookies in her mouth. I was surprised when she proclaimed, "Eplane!" to me.

While looking at pictures, she pointed "C!" to me. Then I realized that she is pointing to the sea. It was a picture that Elisa (or was it Taufik?) had taken for us in Kh0b@r with the background of the sea. How does she know these things? I guess she has been taking notes all along.

On the other hand she has perfected the art of fake crying. She does it to get my attention. Something that she didn't use so much. She sometimes give up a high pitch cry to get attention. Perhaps its something that she realize works in attracting attention. I have tried to ignore the behavior hoping that she would not be screaming so much.

She is constantly testing her boundaries. When I tell her that a behavior is unacceptable, trying out different variations to make sure that they are all not acceptable or if she could get away with anything at all.

She can ask for "Ice cream" quite clearly and "gogurt" (yogurt). Her current favorite food is "mush-room" and "bisket" (biscuit.)

I wish that the school would be more stimulating but unless trained staff are employed I don't think it would happen overnight. On the other hand, the opportunity for her to interact with other children some old and some younger than her is quite valuable. And that she understands that she could have some fun without mummy being beside her.

The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that in 2 weeks we're scheduled to go away for a month long holiday, and I hope we don't have to start the adjustment period all over again from scratch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

School week 2

Thank you Nina, MobileMom, AnaSalwa and Elisa for your words of encouragement.

And the status of nursery for week 2? Still weak.

I guess from the day we took The Little One home, we knew she could cry. A far cry really from the day she was born! The NICU matron told us that she could not cry. She did not cry when she was hungry or otherwise. The first time when she was taken out of her incubator and brought to my room, we were overjoyed to hear her cry. And there was no stopping her thereafter.

And cried she did at Nursery. Apparently there was no way of distracting her. Occasionally when she was not crying she would be asking for "susu" or "umi." I had to join her in school again on Sunday. She was doing very well when I was in the room with her. She could even play by herself at a quiet corner while I played with other children. That didn't bothered her. She was happy as long as I was in the room.

The teachers kept asking me if she was still breastfed. As I had read the thoughts of other mothers like me, who continue to breastfeed after our child is 1 year old, its an uncomfortable topic with people who didn't do the same. Somehow non breast feeding moms feel that this is a character flaw.

I told them that she can survive without milk and she doesn't really need it. She would be quite happy with the juice if offered to her.

Yesterday they didn't call me and I thought perhaps its a good idea to pick her up at 11:30 instead of 12:15. I thought she was doing much better.

But apparently not. They said they tried all sorts of things to make her stop crying including putting her in a room all by herself. She was told that she would be taken out only if she stopped crying. Do threats and intimidation really work?

I understand the benefits of time out. But an anxious child being punished?

The school owner also suggested that perhaps she could come to nursery for 5 days a week instead of three. They thought that perhaps the 4 days break is a too long. I talked to my friend and she felt 3 days a week was long enough. Afterall The Little One is only 20 months. 5 days a week, 4 hours a day is a lot of time being away from Mummy she felt.

How do I feel about all this? I do want her to go to Nursery because I feel its important for her to know that she can have fun without mummy. And that even when mummy goes away, she does come back. And that being independent can be a good thing. Reasons why I decided to send her to Nursery in the first place.

But I don't want her to get all traumatized or anything.

Aside from prayers, I am also trying alternative therapy to calm her down. I tried giving her homeopathic remedy, first chamomilla and today pulsatilla. I even put two drops of Bach Rescue remedy. We'll see how it pans out today.

I know that things may have to get worse before it gets better. I just don't want to break her. I really hope she learns to have fun in school.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In school

The Little One started going to the play group this week. I had planned to send her in November but decided to enroll her anyways last Wednesday. The class for her age group is scheduled for three times a week, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

I've been debating with myself with regards to sending her school for the longest time. This is my second attempt. Some of my neighbours do not feel the need for sending them to school this young, saying that their children are too young to learn anything.

Personally, I do not feel teaching the Little One is a problem for me. At 20 months she enjoys books very much. We read to her as often as we can and as often as she wants to. Well I have been reading to her since she was a month old and she's quite used to that. She understands the concept of counting, her favourite numbers are 3 and 9. And she understand my instructions to her perfectly.

So I chose to send her to school to be socialize. I do recognize that she is very dependent on my company. Some might even consider her clingy. Well, I did practice attachment parenting thus it is no wonder that she is very attached. Furthermore she is still breastfed, something which is a surprise to many people.

I felt that she needed to experience some fun without me. Her nanny goes take her out to the playpark in the afternoons, but I guess she still gets 1 on 1 attention then.

By sending to school I wanted her to learn some independence and acquire the skill to interact with other children without being under my shadow.

Did it work?

For the three days in school, I had to accompany her in class for the first and the third day. It felt like we took 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards. I understand that being the first and only child The Little One may take some time to adjust and get used to it. She was crying non stop the two days I was called back by the teacher to school.

I understand that its early days but at the same time, at the back of my mind I wondered if more could be done to make her experience better. I felt that there some things lacking in the school. It is rather new afterall and it is only the first day of school but with a registration fee of 500 bucks and the cost of 60 bucks a day am I wrong to expect something better?

Perhaps what makes me more critical is my background in education and my determination in educating myself in the different approaches towards early childhood education.

The school owner jokingly told The Little One that if she insist that I come with her everyday then perhaps the school would have to hire me. Frankly, I know I would be capable in handling the children. I have more than enough resources. (Note to self; I have to thank Atenah for some of her pointers.) But for me the whole idea of sending her to school is so that we can spend some time apart. So she could learn that its possible for her to do fun things without her mummy. And that I can finally have some time to myself. To sew perhaps. Or even to start my private teaching again.

In just three days I have seen some changes in her behavior. She has been more talkative. From what I have seen she is a very observant child. She would watch what other children are doing and would slowly imitate them. She can now do a fake-cry She can now climb the steps of the slide and lean forward down the slide all by herself.

That little brain of hers is like a sponge taking in everything.

I do hope that her school would improve. I hope the teachers would come up with novel ways to stimulate the children, failing which I would have to do it myself.

Ramadhan starts next week, we'll have to see how things turn out then.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Somedays I ask myself why we are still here.

Then I ask myself why I didn't pack my bags and go off as soon as we had that chance.

On good days, we thought can stay here for a long long time.

On bad days, I yearn to move on.

I just have to remember to visualize that house we're going to build.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Persian Queen

I guess I was dreading it so much that I took my time to bid her farewell. I didn't know that it would have affected me so, but it did. At the back of my mind, I knew that it was inevitable, that the day would come. Living this life, homes and friendships could be transient. People come and go in my life.

She was one of the first few people I got to know in the compound. The hermit and shy side of me didn't enjoy making new friends. I heard her telling another lady on the bus about her trip to Austri@ and the new sandals she got from there. I listened to her conversation and stayed silent. I didn't want to appear forward or nosy.

I don't exactly remember how or when but we began to hang out. She was very friendly, with a big heart. Perhaps she took pity on me, perhaps she enjoyed my company, I don't know. But she included me during her lunch meets and her walks. She often invited me to hang out with her in the evenings.

When I was in my dark moods and needed to stay isolated, she understood and respected that. When I was ready to come out, I was welcomed with open arms.

She was always the light of the party. There is a certain magnetism about her. Both men and women, even children flocked to her. She was kind, gracious and full of energy. I am always entertained by her stories. Stories about her childhood, about her grandma and about the different people she met or hung out with.

Her fearlessness inspired me. I remembered the day she desperately needed a puff. She stood outside the bus while a car filled with boys teased her, drove round and round the bus and calling her something. But she casually ignored them, not batting an eyelid, took her last drag and moved on. Undisturbed.

She could stand on her ground and yet accommodate those around her. A skill which not many could have.

Her diplomacy is unsurpassed. She tolerated those who continually harassed her.

As a friend she was always willing to help. With friends you meet on the road, you can never tell. Some just want to use you, and take advantage of you. But not her. She was one of those people who showed genuine generosity and consideration.

I often admire just how easily she hung out with all sorts of people of different ages, gender and background. Perhaps it is her gift.

To Negin, I wish you the best of luck! I know you will have loads of friends around you in no time at all because its just you. Know that you are loved and deeply missed.