It’s ok when it doesn’t work out

Recently,we threw in the towel on Shichida Method classes.

I’m not going to say whether this is a good programme or not, because frankly, I think half a year wasn’t quite long enough for us to judge.

We just decided it wasn’t quite so suitable for Little Foot and we called it quits in Dec. Much to the relief of Papa Long, who usually attends the classes with her.

Why? We think it wasn’t the best programme for her, despite some of the rave reviews. She was simply not interested and hardly participated willingly unless there were songs involved. We think she needs more time and space to enjoy life, and well, frankly, the real reason? We too were getting burntout from waking up on a Saturday to run to class with her.

Some time ago, my colleagues gave me the “you kiasu mama!” look when I told them Little Foot has classes 7 days a week. So I explained, myself. She’s in childcare during weekdays, and we have a 1-hour Shichida lesson on Saturday mornings (signed up when she was 3 months old, but only enrolled when she was about 19 months after several admin hiccups on their end). And she has her favourite Kindermusik lessons on Sundays, which we actually stopped for awhile, but brought her back when we saw how her face would light up whenever she heard the music from those classes. She still enjoys them as much as she enjoys going to the playgrounds.

Eventually, Mummy and Papa burnt-out before the little lady did.

She had boundless energy, but she didn’t enjoy the way learning was conducted in the Shichida programme. We also didn’t like that while one parent went in and tried to learn the methods to replicate at home (which we hardly had time to, since she’s in school for a full day), the other (usually Mummy) was loitering at Toa Payoh Hub eating roti prata or kaya toast or ran around trying to do some errands to kill time in that hour.

On hindsight, as first time parents, we (mainly Mummy actually) was rather a tad too ambitious.

I wanted to give my daughter the gift of a photographic memory, a gift of being able to grasp things easily. Which should make learning a breeze. And I thought I got it right. Wrong.

The end came when I almost hyperventilated watching the flashcards when I sat in for one of the later classes (because there was a change of teacher). In my mind, I was asking myself, “what in the world am I doing to my 20+mth old baby?!”

There’s a full road ahead for learning. Why make a toddler sit in a class and get bombarded by flashcards and velcro-ed activities? If it created anxiety for me, what does it do for a toddler? No wonder she was always exhausted after that hour and would crash out, with a frown on her face in her sleep.

And so finally, I admitted, it was time to leave the stress to another time, I’ve had enough. Let’s go get some fresh air, go learn to live like a human being, look at the clouds and watch the planes fly by. Breath the air, and marvel at the stars. Visit a farm, feed some animals and plant some plants. 


No hard feelings to other Shichida parents. It works for you, it didn’t for us. And I think as adults, we should just admit it and cut losses when we realise something doesn’t quite seem to be a good fit.

For now, we will let the world be the weekend tutor, and just retain the fun music sessions for her.

Ice cream anyone?

My little big girl

Quick post before I go off to sleep. 

20 Dec 2016. Little Foot officially promoted to N1 class. No longer in the babies class. 

I have mixed feelings… so proud of her for all that she had achieved in the last 5 months since she enrolled in the school. A little sad that I sent a baby to school and find that she has morphed into a toddler who speaks in short complete sentences, insists on putting on her owj shoes, disallows everyone from taking what she deem not to be theirs, who quizzes me “is that Papa’s car?”, and who informs me with great character  (read big tantrums) if she is displeased.
She sings on the way to school a lot these days, even though she does the customary clingy baby moves once we alight from Papa’s car. 

More mixed feelings when I picked her up during my lunchtime to find smaller toddlers in their own clothing walking unsteadily /being carried out of the school by their parents/grandparents. The adults told me they were there for a trial class, guess they wanted to see if it was what they wanted. I’m reminded that her teachers are no longer the same. She is yet again thrown to the winds of change.  

I’m reminded repeatedly that Little Foot is no longer a baby. Not yet 25 months, but like it or not, she has to progress yearly with those born in the same year. Even if she could be 11 mths younger. Didn’t we just blow out the two candles on the cake a couple of weeks ago?

Dear Little Foot, I know you can hold your own in  a world where you will have to first play catch-up, but then things will even out with time. In a world where you will be thrown out of your comfort zone regularly. Strangers have marveled at how well you can speak… they can make out the songs you sing and figure out the consonants you are not able to pronounce yet. And you have shown me that you are a survivor many times over (I still recall how you replied me when I asked you if your classmate who suddenly turned into a biter managed to take a chomp at you and you replied me very matter of factly that “E beat T!” Oops, I guess you managed to fend your itchy gums friend off!). Your teachers too have told me how impressive you have been, catching up with your classmates.

Always  baby in my eyes… and still leaving me to wonder when the day will come when you stop needing me to fall asleep with you while you comfort latch.

Always my baby no matter how tall you have grown. 

Always a baby even if one day you no longer need me to carry you from the car to the class. 

Hope the new class will be as fun and exciting for you! Let’s stay positive! 

A photo taken over the weekend. A Cape for my little superheroine!

 

Breaking the free spirit…

No photos today.

Day 5 of school; Day 3 of leaving her with the teachers.

Dropping Little Foot off is becoming more tricky, obviously the baby knew what was coming — Mummy was going to pass her to someone and walk out. She insisted on carrying her backpack (bear bear!) and her toy dog (Ah-Ah!) around the class, refused to lose bodily contact with me. In a last ditch attempt to reject this arrangement, she packed her items, held my hand and walked to the shoe cubbyhole, took out her shoes sat down and attempted to wear them.

A clear signal to Mummy to “lets get outta here”.

Heartbroken to see her in this state. I stayed with her as we waited for familiar faces to arrive (Gong 老师 has taken ill, and the other two teachers were not in so early). By 9am, it was clear I was going to have to really move off. So I did. Poor Little Foot cried big tears. Seriously distressed.

As I crossed the road and walked up the hill to my office, I reflected on her old weekday routine:

  • Breakfast/Milk
  • Morning visit to the market/playground with Aunty
  • Playtime
  • Bath time (bubbles time!)
  • More playtime, Barney, books, anything she wanted to do, she was free to roam around the house.
  • lunch
  • Nap
  • Milk
  • Playtime
  • Visit to the playground again with Aunty
  • Dinner
  • Playtime/reading time with mummy and papa
  • 2nd dinner with mummy and papa & Korean Drama time
  • Bath time
  • Playtime in the corridor (sometimes before bath time)
  • Get ready for bed.

Breaking her free spirit, breaking this old routine is heart-wrenching for me.

My 19-month-old doesn’t quite understand why there needs to be this change, and she certainly didn’t see anything wrong with the old routine, where she made all the little decisions – what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear, which toys she will pick from the boxes and cupboards, when it is a good time to have some biscuits or bread… which room she will explore in the house.

My 10 minute walk ended.

I needed to shake the sinking feeling that was creeping into my soul, lift up my chin and console myself that it will get better, she will like her new friends and new routine soon, and hey, it’s only 3 hours more to go before I go pick her up again during my lunch time.

Back to work, back to emails. Little Foot’s sad face still imprinted in my memory. Juxtaposed with the funny situation last night when she decided to climb out of bed to go on a night adventure to the playground – she’d chose a dress, packed her little bag, wore her shoes, opened the gate and walked out.

Sad. Surreal. 无奈.

Mummy feels like a broken person.

Today you cried, and I cried with you

Day 3 of school… Little Foot was all dressed for Hari Raya celebrations. And she decided that Ah-Ah the dog will be her companion for the day.

As agreed with Papa Long,  today would be the day we exited from class and really let her adjust. 

We left shortly after she has breakfast and was settled down on the rug with the Chinese teacher.  I had to walk out fast, more so that I wouldn’t crumble and decide to stay (that’s what happened yesterday).

My heart was pounding… I know my Little Foot was a brave one, but leaving my 19-month-old firstborn with people she still didn’t quite knew. I know it would be just too much for her.

I had breakfast with Papa and my friend (her son goes to the same school too)… and we waited.

1020am.  I can’t take it anymore!  Dragged Papa back to the school to peep.

“Mamamamama…”
“Mamamamama…”
*sniffles*
“Mama………”

My heart broke into a million pieces as I stood outside the door. I didn’t need to peep… I recognised my baby pie’s voice straightaway. 

She’s not a loud bawler….there was another new toddler crying and tearing the house down. In between I heard Little Foot’s cries and whimpers. 

Nothing, no amount of prep talks, no amount of moral support from everyone around me can prepare me for this moment.

Baby, you were crying in there and mummy’s tears were flowing inside my heart. Mummy was desperately trying to look brave and normal.

Papa was firm.  No, she has to get used to it.

I know… I know…. the theories are easy. Doing it was hard. The same baby I have carried so close to my heart day after day is crying for me. 

Finally we were reunited after diaper change time and it was meals time.

I held back my tears and gave her my biggest smile. She leaped into my arms. At that moment I wanted to carry her and run to a corner and hug her, nurse her and say “It’s ok, I’m sorry, let’s forget this whole rubbish idea of school.”

Instead I carried her back into the classroom.

I wanted to feed her, she wanted to latch. So afraid mama will disappear again. So in need of comfort. So we gave up after 3 spoons of porridge and said goodbye to everyone.

Still holding back my tears, still having to sound positive and encourage her that school wasn’t so bad, still telling her “no no…” not allowed to nurse her. 

Finally in the car. Yay! We survived! She finally got to the milk source. I finally dropped my plastic face.

And I silently broke down as I held her and stared at the skies.

image

And this is how it is to really say goodbye to babyhood.

I remind myself, for my Dec baby, I have to grit my teeth and do this now, or her learning curve at N1 would be even more uphill if she has to also deal with the adjustments to being in the system.

Nobody said it was easy. Nobody told me it would be this hard either.

First day in school… a new chapter begins

Today Little Foot formally walked through the doors of Singapore’s education system for the first time.

I half expected tears, meltdowns and panic attacks from her, but I have to say she gave us a real easy time today.

So we did a half – day today at the school. Observed the teachers and the class. Papa Long and I tried our best not to intervene or go to Little Foot’s rescue too much. She did well mostly, even for the part when I decided that Papa and I  should exit the room. It was fruits time, and she was pacified by the rock melon treat.

I also braced myself for my personal meltdown (like maybe tear or cry secretly on Papa Long’s shoulder).

Haha, didn’t happen! I am quite relieved that she seemed to like the place, especially the indoor gym the the school has, and the teachers are quite kind, helping her along, teaching her the “rules” patiently.

image

NOW as I sit in a cafe alone winding down for awhile (she’s at home napping) I look back and think of the little baby girl who made me so worried during her early days, yet she had always been a brave one, not a namby pampy whiny kind of child.

image

I hope you adjust well my Little Foot. Sending you to school is because we love you and want to pave a smoother road ahead for you… not because we have grown tired of you and want to offload you. And we hope you will have fun in the process.

Thanks for being brave and fearless. Thanks for making it easy for Mummy today. I promise that as you enter the education system, I will refrain from caving into the pressures around us. Grow and learn well, my baby, and most of all, learn good values, positivism and be kind to others.

Happy first day of school my baby pie 🙂

XOXO,
Mummy