Last week was one of our most grueling and challenging weeks as a parent. We enrolled Ibrahim into his first nursery.
It was long overdue. He turned 3 in Jan. We wanted him to attend a few months before he officially joins kindergarten. Just so that gets used to the idea of staying away from home and his parents for a few hours. Maybe gel around with kids. Just to get him into the grove.
Not easy. The first day, we just took him in, showed him around, played with him, sat with him in the classroom, introduced him to the kids, teachers, attendants. He took it quite well. And we were optimistic. So on day 2, we got to the nursery, went with him inside to his classroom. And while he got busy with the activities, we then left. All was well for about 15 seconds. The moment he looked up and did not find us, that was it. He started yelling, crying, running around the classroom, totally panicked and scared. It was madness. Every room in the nursery is fitted with CCTV cameras. So we were in the waiting room watching him on TV. And could hear his screams. How do you react in such situations as a parent? Just because it was for his good that we managed to stay put and not rush in there and take him in our arms.
This went on for an hour. The supervisor had suggested we leave him alone for an hour on the first day. When we went into his classroom, he saw us and started crying more. It was his cry of relief. Came running into our arms and kept crying. We left from there, took him to a mall (he loves the parking areas, specially the multistory ones where the car goes up and down the ramp). After which we gave him some of his favorite stuff to eat. All in all, he was fine by the time we reached home. The only real tangible proof was his voice, which was totally hoarse due to all the shouting. To the extent that he was not able utter anything.
The following day, he was due to stay for 2 hours. We kept talking to him about how it was such a good place for him to play, make friends, color, paint, play music etc. When we finally reached the nursery, he refused to go in. After a little persuasion, he finally let go. Went into the arms of his favorite attendant, Ms. Nes, and she took him into the classroom.
Then something so unexpected happened that I will never forget it ever. He forced Nes madam to come out again where we were still standing. He looked at us and started crying, forcing her to bring him to us. When he came a little close, I told him, ‘Ibrahim, mama and baba are going to office. You have to go inside now. You should not cry and come out. We cannot stay here na. We will come as soon as Nes madam will call us’. And I started to move back. He then said, ‘Ibamin baba ko kiss karna hai please’ (Ibrahim wants to kiss baba please!). I couldn’t muster a word. I walked quickly to him. He was still in Nes madam’s arms. He kissed me on the cheek. I asked him, ‘Let’s hug?”. He said yes. Gave him a tight hug. And he said bye. And asked Nes madam to take him inside!
I was speechless. Here I was thinking he is throwing a tantrum, refusing to go to his classroom and wants to come to us. And was moving away while he was insisting on coming close. His whole intention was just to give his baba a goodbye kiss. And I was telling him to go inside and don’t cry and what not!!! This one incident reminded me how innocent a child is and how simple his needs can be. Why it really shook me was because Ibrahim is not one to kiss and hug n all. His way of showing affection is different. More aggressive. He rarely chooses to kiss someone. Even his parents. Infact, as far as I can remember, this is the first time he has given me a kiss without asking for it in over a year. I still wonder what was going on in his mind that time. Was he insecure? Was he afraid that we were leaving him there for good? Or did he just feel like giving us kiss because he was going away from us? I may never know. But that one kiss has changed me as a parent. Never again I am going to take him for granted. Nor ignore him. Yes, I will do what needs to be done for the sake of his parenting. But with renowned vigor and strength. He is my son and I am a proud father.
He has stopped yelling now. But hasn’t stopped crying. But not crying with tears. He just making sounds. Today was more challenging coz it was the first day after the weekend. He is settling in. And I hope by end of this week, he will be fully acclimatised. When I asked him today if he wants to come back again tomorrow, he said yes. And was pretty cool about it. Last week when was asked the same question, he would cry and run around as if the house was on fire. So yeah, some improvement there.
I wish this phase of his life, his first foray into the real world, is full of excitement and learning. I wish the Almighty always watches over him and give him all the success, health and love he deserves, for now and the hereafter. Ameen.