A whole week in and Primary 1 has been good so far. Truett is adjusting to the hours and making new friends and learning all kinds of new stuff. It’s like he’s made the jump to being a smarty pants primary schooler in a week, in a good way. He knows how things work now.
Me, I’m still adjusting. I still get flashbacks of my time in the system, like the other day when I followed a trail of parents to cut across the school carpark after picking Truett up. From nowhere, the principal appeared behind me and started booming, “PARENTS, PLEASE SET A GOOD EXAMPLE AND WALK ON THE PAVEMENT!”
We were like barely 3 feet from the pavement that was packed with parents and the carpark was completely clear but “YES, MA’AM, RIGHT AWAY!!” In front of me, all the other parents scurried off hastily, each one quickly making sure both feet found a spot up on the crowded pavement. It would have been funny if I wasn’t also scurrying. In a different scenario, I might have told her to loosen up a little but 20 something years on, there’s still something about having the principal bark orders at me. I’m like the elephant who had his leg tied to a stake as a baby, y’know. What I’d like to know is whether all primary school principals are this terrifying. Like when you want to apply for the job of school principal, there’s an audition for the role. “Stand over there, put on your fierce face and bark orders…GO! Ok, too docile, next!”
Anyway, everyday when I pick Truett up from school, I’ll give him a monster hug and ask him the same question, “How was school today?”
“Good,” he’ll say, like 7-year-olds do in their noncommital way.
“E-laborate. It means tell me more. I need details!” Apart from my inquisitive mom instincts kicking in, I really do like hearing him talk about his day in school.
“I had chicken rice again and I ordered it myself, my buddy didn’t have to help me.” (that’s 6 days of chicken rice in a row, I’ll have to try this legendary chicken rice sometime.) “My friends like my book, they think it’s funny.” (it is. Press Here is his new favourite book and it’s a great one.) “I drew a leaf today,” he said, pulling out a crumpled piece of green paper from his bag. (at least it’s not torn, yay! that’s improvement.)
Earlier in the week, he also said “I think my chinese is not so good, all my friends can speak chinese but I don’t understand what the teacher is saying in class.” He looked troubled as he said it, and I felt really bad for him.
My thoughts about how we teach Mandarin in schools have been well documented and I won’t talk about it again, but looking at him worry about his ability to cope with this blasted subject on his first week in school was heartbreaking. Maybe it’s time to cave and re-enrol him in Mandarin classes or hire a private tutor. We’re still weighing our options but step 1 of the intervention plan has begun – I’ve been going through his 华文课本 with him after school.
Today, when I asked him about how school was, he said “When teacher said chinese things, I understood what she was saying. I don’t know how I know but I just know, it’s a miracle.”
Ok, baby steps, we’ll get there.