It was my first day at school and I didn’t cry. I know that sounds odd considering I’m a full grown adult and a father but nevertheless it was the truth.
My wife and I planned to have me sit in with my son during one of his days at school, which in truth is really just 2 and a half hours. It’s not even “school” school. More like play school where he can learn how to follow rules and basic things like colors, shapes and numbers. But the main reason why we’re sending our son to school is for him to be able to socialize with other kids and adults not named mom and dad. Also, we were down one yaya.
So I woke up at the ungodly hour of 8:00 am for class at 9. Already I feel this school is pushing my son too hard. As we semi-rushed out the door, car keys in hand, son in the other, my wise and all-knowing wife suggested we take the driver. And in my mind, the most preposterous thing I’d ever heard. Nonsense! I don’t need a driver. I don’t need a yaya. I’m on this. My hands may be full at the moment but I got this.
I put my boy in the car seat, which thankfully he’s grown to love. (otherwise I would bring a yaya). As the car whirred alive, I watched him from the rearview seated comfortably strapped in, sun in our faces, I couldn’t help but feel we were on a grand adventure, just the two of us. Let the day begin!
We arrived at the school shortly only to find the most dreaded of dreads a parent with no help can come across. No parking. No! Parking! What. I. How. Were my thoughts in that order. I circled the block thrice and my concrete mistress would not give that ass up.
Facing a brick wall I did as all men do. I called the wife. She is incredibly wise and irritatingly all-knowing. 20 minutes later we were back at school with the reinforcements of manong driver.
We walked in and headed straight for his seat. What I love about our school (because apparently it’s now my school as well) is that the teachers are so nice and laid back. 20 minutes late? No worries dude. Here, grab a seat, make yourself comfortable. I saw that the other kids were done with their activity and were left to play with the learning toys around the room until one of them locked eyes with me. Immediately I put my shields up and tried not to feel her gaze as they bored into my skull. I was at her mercy. Please don’t hurt my feelings.
I tried to disappear into the corner of the room. Part of the reason why I sat in today at school was so that I could observe and maybe better understand how we can leave him here with no yaya or parent with the least amount of tears. That meant no handholding, no carrying, no hanging on to papa’s leg. So yes, aside from avoiding the little girl’s eyes, I had to act like I wasn’t there.
And for the most part, I discovered that our son is a lot more independent that we thought. He just needs a little nudging here and there. And of course, the more he does it, the more confident he’ll be. He just needed time to stretch his wings. And also, I would say, trust. Trust in the teachers that they’ll hold him when he cries and trust in my son that he’ll pick himself up when the tears do fall.
Sometimes our own fears or preconceptions get in the way of what actually is. It was good to see him interact with his teachers and his classmates and see his own personality change and take shape. It was good to see him be his own person. We may have needed reinforcements but today we celebrate this small victory with absent tears.