It was Buddy’s first day at school two days ago when the new year began. Well, it wasn’t really school for Buddy since he didn’t have to study; he is attending Toddler’s class. But it is his first time wearing a uniform, and he will be wearing one for many years to come. ( For those unfamiliar, students here have to put on uniforms from elementary school level to senior high. There are also many pre-schools that have uniforms, like Sparkletots, where Buddy is attending.) To be honest, I’m not sure why toddlers are made to wear them; I thought they can wait till nursery level. Anyway that’s how it is at Sparkletots.
The toddler class is more regimented compared to infant care. I guess it’s to prepare the child for the formal education system. Other than the uniform, there is a fixed schedule that includes fixed nap time from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. The toddlers are also more involved in activities like reading, art and crafts, ball games and walks etc. They also have PE attire which they changed into after their bath in the mid morning.
The infant care had prepared Buddy for toddler class by taking him and two other toddlers over to the class for lunch and play time during the last two weeks of December. But since yesterday was his first full day in class, which is not as free and easy as infant care, I took the supervisor’s advice to spend a couple of hours in the morning with him. Little Audrey also had her dad with her. Though the other toddler girl, Janelle, was without her parents. Perhaps it was because of our presence, Buddy was clingy to me and Audrey to her dad, whereas Janelle was stoically obeying orders.
Buddy didn’t want to sit on the little stool or on the floor and instead preferred to sit on my lap. During the ball game with the teacher, when she rolled a ball to each kid who was supposed to roll back, Buddy didn’t want to do that and, instead, got up and stepped forward with ball in hands, and bounced it to the teacher. He also didn’t want to sit patiently for his turn, and went over to the ball basket and took one out to play on his own. That started a chain reaction and the other kids also wanted to have their own balls, well most other kids. There were a couple of girls who just sat quietly on the floor watching.
Oh, did I mention that Buddy is only one of
two three boys in the class of 11 kids? All of them were from the infant care and so Buddy is “familiar” with them. There are three teachers in this class, two of them speaking in mandarin and one (Malay) teacher who speaks English to the children (she is actually effectively trilingual in English, Malay and Mandarin). The kids do have a Chinese language class once a day, but I’m glad there are two Chinese teachers who are constantly speaking in mandarin because we hardly speak the language at home. My husband has the excuse of not learning it in school; but for me I’ve lost significant ability in speaking and writing since I don’t use Mandarin often (yes, you can consider it a tragedy that I have lost touch with my mother tongue). I know it sounds like I’m delegating the responsibility to the teachers but it’s a good thing that Buddy is exposed to the language in school (and even in infant care).
One of the toddlers is this pretty little girl called ‘Celeste’, whom I almost mistaken for a boy because of her ultra short hair. She caught our attention in class because she wanted to be cuddled by the parents too. She saw Audrey sitting on her dad’s lap and went over to sit on his lap as well. She also came over to me to show me her hand, while looking at me with her large woeful eyes. Unfortunately I wasn’t sure if it hurts or what, and I tried to comfort her by rubbing her hand gently.
During one reading session, I read a book to Buddy, and little Olivia came over with a Chinese book. I explained to her that it was too advanced for her and read a simple English book to her and Alex instead. As I was doing so, little Celeste also came over with a book for me and she was trying to say something though I couldn’t grasp her baby talk. But I presumed she wanted me to read to her as well. In fact in another activity, she again went over to Audrey ‘s dad and sat on his lap. He asked her in surprise, “do you want a cuddle too?” One of the teachers explained that Celeste’s dad is rather strict with her. Poor kiddo must not have received much love and attention from her dad.
I only stayed for a couple of hours with Buddy. When I told him I had to leave and got up to say farewell to him, he started to wail. Teacher Wardah tried consoling him and he struggled out of her arms. But I knew the longer I stayed, the more clingy he would be and so hardened myself to be firm. Anyway it turned out that I needn’t have to be guilty because it didn’t take long for him to settle down without me. When my husband picked him up in the evening, the teacher told him that Buddy was fine for the rest of the day. In fact I was surprised to find out from my husband that the teacher remarked that Buddy loves to read. Surprised because when I tried reading to him, he lost interest after a few minutes. My husband thought maybe I was boring him. (Bleah!)
Yesterday late afternoon, I received a call from the daycare that Buddy had a fall! I was Shocked! Especially since there have been a few cases of children getting hurt in childcare centers over the past year, with the latest case happening just the day before. (A two-year old girl suffered from abrasions on her back, bruises on face and cut on her lip. Her parents lodged a police report when the center supervisor gave conflicting statements on what happened to her.)
I was told that the children were out for a walk with the teachers, and Buddy tripped and fell on his face, hurting his nose and lip. A teacher took him back to the center immediately to clean up and apply ice pack on the affected areas. I informed my husband who then went to the daycare soon after to check on Buddy. Turned out, other than the abrasions on his nose and areas above and below his lip, there doesn’t seem to be any other injuries. Buddy was able to take his 5pm milk feed, and was chirpy. But my husband told me he was hurt during the morning walk, and that took me by surprise as the center was supposed to have called me right after Buddy was brought back. He said that the walks are in the morning. I contacted the supervisor who assured me that it happened in the late afternoon, and she had seen Alex brought in. Soon after our conversation, teacher Wardah called me to explain that the children have two walks a day, in the morning and afternoon. It was during the afternoon one that Buddy fell, and it is the center’s operating procedure that the parents are informed immediately when something happens to the children.
When Buddy saw a doctor this morning, she assured us that the abrasions are minor and there is nothing to worry about. I guess Buddy is pretty robust. Anyway these are not his first battle scars, he has fallen a few times and scraped his knees. He hasn’t lost his nerves so far. l just have to be more relaxed about the usual bruises and bumps that an active kid like Buddy gets. For the time being, he has to bear with the Rudolf reindeer look.