A Better Life

Malcolm walks to school everyday.
He doesn’t complain about the scorching hot sun.
He doesn’t complain about the humid air that made him sweat so much that drenched his uniform.
He doesn’t complain about the funny ranger hat that he has to wear that doesn’t seem to make it any cooler.

I must confess that I am not really enjoying the walk to and fro his school everyday
Not when the sun is burning furiously right above me, not when I am carrying an extra 8 kg of load in front of me, not when I am drenched in my own sweat even when I just had a bath before I left the house.

Yes, I am the whiny one here
and I am not proud of it.

And I began to think about the days when I was just about Malcolm’s age.
The days when I have to walk to school everyday
The days when I am responsible for walking my siblings home from school
The days when I have to travel an hour by public bus to get to school.

I don’t remember myself complaining
I don’t remember myself whinning
I go everywhere
I was free

Then I realised that somewhere along the way, I was crippled
Crippled by the material comforts in my life
Materials that are good to have but not necessarily essentials
Materials that promised me a better life yet robbing me from the simple joy in life

And I wonder is that what I want to feed my child …

Note : Malcolm’s new school is 10 minutes walk from our place and I am thinking that we should continue to walk to school even if we do end up with another car.


Going to School

It took us a day to drive around the neighbourhood hunting for a school for Malcolm.
We checked out the government schools, those we used to attend when we were little but there wasn’t any vacancy. Malcolm will be joining the K1 class which is already half way through the academic year.

We visited a Montessori childcare in a private house. The teacher was nice and friendly. The kids were happy and I liked what I heard from the teacher, that they believe in letting the kids develop and learn at their own pace. The place was a bit cramped and for places without the air condition, we felt that the air was abit still and stuffy. The biggest consideration for us was the exhorbitant school fees. It costs $650 per month to put Malcolm there and we are talking about more than $500 difference if you compare that to a governent kindergarten.

My experience with branded preschool started when Mal was 3 1/2 years old when we started him on a 1/2 day school in Singapore. I must say that I wasn’t very impressed with the school. In fact, through the years, I have developed a distaste for early childhood educators and businesses targeting at insecure parents who believe in giving their children a head start in their school years. I am a skeptic and I WAS, and perhaps, still AM, an insecure parent who is finding my way to parent my child, the way that I think will best prepare him for this world.

So we visited a 3rd school. We couldn’t visit the classrooms because of the ongoing H1N1 virus. The monthly fee was a third of the private school and we love its proximity to our home. It was in fact a chinese school where most lessons will be conducted in Mandarin and we were relief when they told us that Malcolm could start school as soon as the next day!

Malcolm was however quite upset when he heard that he will be attending a chinese school. His experience with a French school where NOBODY speaks English wasn’t very pleasant and it had affected him quite a bit.

On the first day, he cried a little when the teacher separated him from us, to usher him to his new classroom.  Due to the ongoing virus, no parents were allowed to accompany the kids to the classroom, not even if it was their 1st day of school. I was appalled by the shcool’s emphasis on hygience and cleanliness but I guess it wasn’t such a bad thing afterall. Malcolm was happy and chirpy by the time we came to pick him up.

On the second day, he had his temperature checked, his mouth and fingernails checked, planted a brief kiss on our cheeks and walked to his classroom BY HIMSELF, WITHOUT TEARS. We were so relief. Later on, when we picked him up, he told us that time passes so fast that he didn’t even realise that it was time to go home!

Today is the third day of school and he woke up happy and eager to play with his toys before heading for school. He obviously enjoys school here more than in Paris and we were glad that he could adapt so well. Maybe having exposed to the rougher kids and tougher environment in France has made him stronger.

Each time, as I watched my boy walked off to his classroom by himself, his little back, with his little backpack, reminds me of a little warrior, fully armoured, ready to take on the challenges that might come his way. With that, I am happy.


So Good, No Need to go School!

so this is what I can do when there is no school
go swimming with Mummy! and best if you have a ‘surf board’ He calls himself the ‘Pilot Surfer’… whatever that means

Mal’s hassle free drop off at the childcare every morning lasted for 4 days. On Friday, he woke up telling me that he did not want to go school. He changed his mind with a bit of persuasion but clung on to me when he entered the classroom. I talked to him, explained to him, distracted him but all failed. He would give me reasons, excuses and cry hoping that he would come home with me. So on Friday, I brought him to school and I brought him home again. We had a deal, he has to go school on Monday and he agreed happily.

On Monday, he woke up fresh and excited about going to school. He changed his clothes, had his coco crunch with milk breakfast, brushed his teeth and all set to go school. But the moment we entered his classroom, his mood changed. Tears started rolling down his cheeks when he saw me turned to leave the room. More hugs and kisses only seemed to make things worse and soon he was bawling and the teacher had to hold him back while I walk off.

When I came back to pick him up later, he was bouncing with glee, eager to show me the craft he had made and tell me how much fun he had. When his teacher Mrs Manu told him she wants to see him with a happy face the next morning. He was quick to agree. But the same thing happened again the next day. This went on for the whole of this week and finally, today I decided to give him a break and give myself a break.

I wonder whether all kids go through this phase…

felt like a private investigator, hiding in the car to capture this shot. So cute! the kids were out for a stroll around the school. You learn to appreciate the greenery more after staying in desert Arizona for 2 years!

I hang around in school to make sure Mal was alright before leaving. Mal was the first one in the line with red hat
a little incentive for him to go school, I promised to bring him to the airport in the evening…and we were at the budget terminal where the view of aircraft taking off was better than at T2 viewing gallery!

but the terminal really looks ‘budget’… for a while I thought it was a temporary building as it was built using plaster board and there was a ‘budget’ cafe inside, Hanes.