Friday, 15 June 2012

Kindergarten Trauma

We sent James to Tadika Diyana on 11 June, the first day of school, and his first day in school EVER. Chris took leave so we could experience this big moment together, and were prepared to stay there the whole session in case he was sticky. Knowing my son, I knew he'd be fine because of the novelty of the class. It would be the next week that he'd be REALLY sticky.

I was right. He ran into class without a backward glance, while we stood outside wringing our hands and wondered why we were more anxious than him.  Even when he came out to go to another class, he saw us and looked away, more interested in where he was going than running to us.

We went home, shoulders slumped, feeling scared and depressed at leaving him there on his own. Would he be ok on his own? Would the teacher understand his needs and not push too hard? Would he be able to escape if a gunman got through security? All these worries and feelings. We cried on the way home. Stupid.

We went early to pick him and he looked frowny and upset, and couldn't wait to jump into Papa's arms. We thought it was normal separation anxiety. (PS : Joshua didn't give a shit that we were gone and happily stayed in the Neneh's house, like he'd been living there all the while)

2nd DAY

I went early so I could talk to the teacher and explain James' sensitivity, and how his development had halted when I went back to work, and only when I stopped work to have Joshua could I spend the time to SLOWLY and PAINFULLY bring him out of his shell again. I told her to be very patient with him. She was barely listening and attributed it to 1st time kindy blues. I was really pissed at her apathy, because I worked really hard to bring James to where he was, and a uncaring teacher could just screw it all up and leave me to pick up the pieces --- again!!!

He still seemed very teary and upset when I came to pick him. Teacher seemed annoyed he couldn't really feed himself (he's 3, come on!) and couldn't hold his penis to pee standing (he always preferred to sit, in our house, because he doesn't want his hands to get dirty). I said that he prefers to sit, but she insisted that he had to pee standing up. He had refused to pee the whole day, it seems. An alarming sign because his potty training is the first thing to go when he's very upset. When I took him to the kindy toilet, I had to make sure the toilet was clear of pee before he would go - then a LOT came out. Can't believe he held it all in.

He spent the whole day being very withdrawn and quiet, the way he is when he's been scolded. Since we yelled at him last night (sleep deprivation) we tried to chalk it up to him being mad at us. He wouldn't say a word about kindy. I started having doubts already, as the teacher didn't seem very patient with him.

I spoke to the headmistress and she was a lot more understanding, and asked me to talk to the teacher again, this time after class. The HM recognised that James was a high-need child (I didn't have to tell her) - which made me feel better. Issue was, this teacher was leaving in 2 mths to get married. What hope could I have of getting her to care?!

3rd DAY
He was skipping to kindy, but screamed when I took him to his class. He refused to go. Luckily, the class had gone to the Hall, and I took him there instead. He was anxious. The teacher took him before I could say goodbye, and James kept looking for me, so I went to him to say a proper goodbye. He refused to let go of me, so I followed them to cooking class - thinking it was interesting enough for him to ignore me and I could move on. I told him I was making a phone call, and when I came back, he was whining for me. Teacher told me to go, or she will not be able to control him. I didn't feel good, because he was expecting me to come back and the betrayal would cause him to lose trust next time.

I came back early to sit outside the class, and heard him calling for mommy every 10 minutes. I was horrified. Was he doing this all morning? I peeked and he was sitting in the corner of the class, holding his bag, his back facing the kids. So heart-breaking. When he came out, his eyes were swollen and the area under his nose was red and raw from being rubbed all morning.
Seriously. How the hell do you rub a kid's nose till it looks like this?!

Teacher said she had a very hard time with him because he was crying for me the whole way, refused to pee, and wouldn't participate in class. I knew I should've said goodbye. She said he cried till his whole body shook, which scared her. I told her he does that when he's VERY upset, and that's why I needed her to be patient. She listened this time.

Later James told me the teacher was angry at him because he kept crying for mommy. He woke from his nap halfway, crying for mommy, inconsolable, and it was hard to calm him back to sleep. He stuck to me like a leech the whole day, so afraid I would leave him again.

4th DAY
Again, he screamed when he neared the class, and pulled away screaming when he saw the teacher. She didn't help matters by looking impatiently at him, instead of smiling encouragingly. I went in with him, and he was ok. When he was sure I wasn't leaving, he was more willing to join the other kids in play. He still did his own thing, never really following the rest of the class unless it was something which interested him. I dunno what to do about this.

I found his fear of the toilet was because it was a waterfall-wall style, which he's never seen or used before, especially since he's been scared of public toilets due to the hand dryer. All the other boys could pull down their own pants and hold their own penises to go. The teacher expected James to do that too!

I had to help him get used to the toilet first, so I held his penis for him. He was terrified, but I made a game of it - hit the waterfall with his water gun. He finally let loose and enjoyed seeing his pee mix with the water and flow down. The next few times, he still wouldn't hold his own penis, but at least he was peeing.

He was happy to join the kids sitting down for snacks, drinking his own drink and eating bread on his own - though he didn't finish either. No adults helped anyone to eat. I'm not comfortable with this. I met another mom who had been there all week, and her son wouldn't let go of her hand to mix with the kids at all.

I saw what they taught in class, and felt it was too academic for James' age. I still wanted him to develop his life skills (eating, peeing, socialising) before getting him to learn how to write alphabets.

It was an exhausting morning of trying to get him to listen to teacher, hide from him or sneak out the door. He would yell whenever he noticed I was gone and insisted I be in the classroom, not just visible thru the window outside. He also got hit by this violent kid in class who was hitting everyone and he wailed, never retaliating, unlike the girls who actually hit back! 

Finally, class was over and I was looking forward to getting some water and food. I turned on the aircond to cool the car (hot day) and put James in his seat. Then I noticed a lot of foot traffic behind me. Given the spate of crimes where kids get jacked along with the cars, I closed my door and locked it - which locked all the other doors. I reminded myself to unlock it before I closed James' door, but because he was whining, I got distracted and due to physical memory, the minute I buckled him into his seat --- I SHUT THE DOOR!!!! The second the door left my hand I realised my mistake.

Coolly, I used the remote. But it wouldn't open the doors while the engine was running! Now I started panicking. MY BABY WAS LOCKED INSIDE!!!

I called Chris several times but he kept hanging up cuz he was in an important meeting. I had to call Caryn to get him, and finally could tell him to get the spare key for me and that James has oxygen since the engine is running.

I started banging on the window to get James to lift the lock. People came to help, but a Malay man pointed out they were freaking James out by peering in like that. James was starting to get upset, especially since I alternated between calmly instructing him to open the door and hysterical/angry panic. Someone got the nearby mechanics to try and lift the lock, but it was a Honda, not a Proton. Plus they kept looking at James, and he started to get hysterical - he told me later they scared him.

I spent almost an hour cajoling James to open the lock, but he just couldn't. He was so upset he was banging his head against the window or kicking it, trying to get me in. I had to yell at him to stop. He was so upset he got his shoe tangled in his foot and didn't have the presence of mind to undo it - he impossibly tried to yank it off.

I contemplated smashing the window, but it didn't make sense because James had oxygen and was a lot more comfortable than I was, Chris was on the way, AND I had security tint.

Chris passed me the key, and I was so fucking relieved the car had a keyhole. Definitely a criteria for our next car. Hugged a traumatised James and drove home. He was so exhausted from the ordeal he fell asleep before I got there and slept for 2.5 hours.

I spent the rest of the day agonising over whether to continue at Diyana or look for another more play-oriented kindy. I prayed hard.

After dinner, we're about to go home when Joshua poops. Reni takes him upstairs to change but ends up giving him a bath because she saw how tired I was and was being helpful. I happened to walk into the room JUST as she splashed some water into his tub, and he SCREECHED in pain. The hot day had turned the cold water into scalding water, and Josh got the brunt of it on his shoulders, chest, back and thigh!

It was all red and he was crying, and crying and crying, and I felt like I was about to fall apart.

I reeled myself in and told her to splash cold water on him. It was a few seconds before the cold water finally came in, and even then he just kept crying. Dad put lotion on him and assured us it would get better soon, as there were no blisters. Just 1st degree burns. We left him naked and I drove him home to put him to bed. Once home, he was ok and could wear PJ's.

I don't have the energy to take James to kindy tomorrow and leave Josh alone again. Plus, before bed, James told me he didn't like the teacher, and was very specific about which one, too. 

FUCK. What a day. I guess God's trying to tell me not to go back to Diyana. At least he answered my prayers pretty quickly.

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