How this stay-home-dad braved yet another first day of school.

Dear C

In the blink of an eye, you’ve moved up another primary school level.


And your school even made the distinction very clear this time by moving you to a totally different campus. So, not only must you adjust to a new class with new friends and teachers, you have to adjust to a whole new environment as well.

And the rest of us right along with you!

Since November, your mommy and I have been gently prepping you for the sea change, remembering well the first day of school every January these past few years. We know you typically approach this big day with much anxiety and reluctance.

“I don’t want to go to K1/K2/P1/P2…and now P3” are words we have become all-too familiar with each time we looked ahead to another January.

For the longest time, I tried to be patient. After all, it’s a huge deal for you, and I need to understand that. I need to accept that.

Then, it got really exasperating and I started getting hot and bothered with what was to me your constant whining.

Clearly my patience was getting a very short shrift!

A noticeable shift

Photo credit: trustypics on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Fast forward to these two recent months and I noticed something different.

While you still made your usual whiny protests, somehow they didn’t have the same weight of conviction underpinning them like before.

In fact, it almost appeared like you were tossing it out as a ‘by-the-way’ statement while you moved on to talk about other stuff.

Now that, to the rest of us, was progress! Or at least to me it was, though it took your thick-headed dad here a while to realise. My slow uptake was probably due to the fact that we’ve been ‘battling’ this year after year with you; it’s just become such a routine.

You know.

Me trying to ‘forewarn and prep’ you; you collapsing into a puddle of despair. Me then getting upset and giving you a shelling to ‘toughen up’ and ‘grow up’, and you howling in protest and more despair.

Not a pretty sight.

But I think we both know by now who really needs to grow up here!

A new milestone

Photo credit: robinsonsmay on / CC BY

Because when the time came for you to make your way to school on Monday this week, I was surprised how much calmer you were than your emotional train wreck of a dad!

It happened gradually, almost imperceptibly.

The night before you were still whining about going to school. During our family’s nightly devotion and prayer time, you stressed repeatedly that you didn’t want to go P3. And son, your ‘3’ was blurted out an octave or two higher!

So forgive me when I say I was all prepared for a battle first thing Monday morning!

As it turned out, though you were reluctant to get out of bed, it actually wasn’t too different from your usual morning bedside manner. The one that always meant you had to be dragged out of bed, led to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for breakfast. Then back to the loo for your morning ‘toilette’ before changing to your school uniform, and then being ushered hastily out the front door while putting on your school shoes.

I had fully expected worse-than-normal resistance.

But no. It was smoother than butter!

Of course you showed no enthusiasm whatsoever, which was well within our expectations. And throughout the car ride your face had the expression of a convict headed for the electric chair.

So I tried to make your car ride as comfortable as possible. You wanted your favourite red coach bus toy next to you on the front seat, I let you. I even let you pick the Spotify playlist as we headed towards the highway. Your choice of the Singapore National Day song list seemed rather ‘odd’ however, since it’s not August yet.

But hey, anything to keep my little passenger happy right?

Upon our arrival

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by VisionPic .net on

When we reached your new ‘home’ for this new school year, I parked the car opposite and we took a walk to the pedestrian crossing leading to the main gate. All the way you held on to my hand tightly (or maybe it was me holding yours tightly!).

There was a lot of traffic as other parents were dropping their kids off in cars or on foot. The usual first day jitters could be felt in the air as everyone hurried to get themselves and the kids to school on time.

Well I was determined not to rush you, and you were also clearly in no hurry.

In previous years you would sob, protest and cling onto my arm-sized thigh for dear life, like someone clutching tightly to a skinny lamp post in a tornado.

This time there was no such drama. In fact, that threw me for a loop! I was all ready to get out the hanky (for us both) and wait out our (I mean your) tears until a teacher came to rescue me (I mean you; of course I mean you!).

But nothing of that sort was necessary. In fact, as soon as we reached the point beyond which no parent or caregiver was allowed to proceed, you continued to walk on unfettered. For all the world like you knew all along what exactly to do!

I didn’t even get to properly kiss you goodbye, so sudden did that moment whizz by.

In that instant, I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or fall into a messy heap!

Either way, I knew that you had crossed yet another milestone.

And it was time for me to do so too.

So thanks C for showing your dad the way. And may your confidence (and mine) grow with each passing school day, week, month and year.

I love you to the ends of the moon and back!

Yours (forever dazed and amazed),
Daddy Doo-fus

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