Tomorrow Cesca finishes her first scholastic year. I can’t for the life of me figure out how this year flew by. With so many things happening, and me looking forward and fearing the start of school, it seems like yesterday that I was buying her uniforms and trying to figure out how life with a new student and a new baby would work out.
Like sisterhood, school has been a godsend for Cesca. Both events happened together (quite literally), and although there were early teething problems, she took to both quite well. She has learnt that the world is not all about her, she learnt the importance of sharing, and in both situations she took to the roles of elder sister and fellow pupil very well.
School has helped improve her social skills tremendously. She is still very picky on whom she befriends, and if she does not like you (or the look of you, unfortunately), she will not hesitate one minute in telling you so (much to her parents’ embarrassment). However she is friendlier with her friends and whenever she feels like it, she will talk to strangers like there’s no tomorrow. Her vast vocabulary has now turned into fully-fledged sentences, and she can spend minutes talking about everything. She has learnt new nursery rhymes, she sings all the time and comes up with new expressions and words which sometimes baffle me. I smile whenever she uses ‘otherwise’, ‘in the meantime’ and ‘anyways’ in sentences. She has started using Maltese words and although her use of the language leave a lot to be desired (“Jiena ha taghmel…”), I admire her trying to speak Maltese with new children she meets.
My fear of Kinder One proved to be fruitless. Luckily she had teachers who made her comfortable and who were patient with her, especially in the early days. She has the same group of friends she mentions all the time, and seeing her interact with them makes me feel better about my unfounded fear of her not blending in well. Thankfully she does not seem to be lacking in the confidence department. In fact, she lately refers to herself as “Queen Cesca”. Not “Princess” – that title is saved for Bettina. Cesca is the Queen, I am the Super Queen and Anthony is the Super Hero. We had an episode of sorts last weekend, when we were in a shop full of people and she asked in a loud voice, when we were going back to our castle. Because you see, our little home is a castle in her eyes.
These past two weeks have been trying for us though. She is suddenly scared of everything under the sun. She fears the wind, the fan, her spotted socks and even the red hair-brush. She is also suffering from separation anxiety when it comes to leaving me alone for a minute. For that reason she has refused to go to her crafts lessons for the past fortnight – something she used to love doing. She now visits the bathroom with me, helps me hang the clothes and is always hovering round me. There are some perks to this phase – I get impromptu kisses and hugs, declarations of love and lots and lots of ‘mama’ this and ‘mama’ that. However it is a trying phase for me, especially with another baby in the house and trying to juggle everyone and everything. Hopefully this phase will pass. And I know it will, because if motherhood taught me anything, it is that childhood is one phase right after the other. One phase ends and another one will start immediately afterwards. It’s just that when you’re in the eye of the storm, things look a million times worse. Once out of it, everything resumes calmly. Till the next storm that is.
So if you have a child starting school next September, don’t worry too much. Like everything, the teething phase will be difficult. Believe me when I tell you that it was a hundred times harder for us, because we had Bettina arriving on a Tuesday evening, and Cesca started school on Wednesday morning. I was having closely-timed contractions at home, sorting out Cesca’s school uniform and satchel, telling Anthony’s sister what to prepare for her for school the following morning, clutching my tummy with pain, praying Bettina wouldn’t be born in our kitchen, and feeling useless as a mother for knowing I would miss out on Cesca’s first day of school. Learn to trust in higher powers, in your child’s ability to fend for him/herself and know that it will all be okay in the end. There will be discouraging episodes which will throw you back at times – having your child cry leave when you leave him at school in the morning, times when they wet their pants again (in school, for two straight weeks – yes, we had that too), the first Monday after two-week long Christmas and Easter holidays. But they will pass, don’t worry.
Perhaps the worst part of schooling happens to parents. For me, it was learning to let go of Cesca. I had to learn to trust her by herself, with new people, in a new setting, without being there to check up on her like I usually would. I have to admit that the temptation to call up on the school and ask about her was very tempting in the beginning, and there were days when I would stay for a couple of minutes underneath her class window to see whether she would cry when I left her. I was jealous of the time she spent with her teacher and with her new friends. But then I would see her coming out of school laughing, smiling, with messy hair and paint-stained fingers, with star stickers attached to her forehead, waving good-bye to her friends and teachers, and bursting with the need to tell me what she did at school, so much so that I could barely understand her rushed words, and I knew it would be okay.
So remember, the first cut is the deepest. Hold on and hang in there.
And come next October, I will re-read this post because I know I will need the reassurance again. And again.