In January this year my son started school. Unlike many first time parents, I wasn’t apprehensive about the big step; mostly, because I needed him out of the house and around other kids and because I felt he was developmentally ready for this new big challenge.
I hoped he would learn his ABCDs and counting and reading. But more importantly:
I hoped he would cope fine in school. May be even excel at some things. May be he will be the kid who runs the fastest at sports day or leads the national anthem or takes to water like a fish. Anything really.Even if it’s being the first to finish his food.
I hoped he would fall in love with learning or school activities or the school bus or his teachers or fellow classmates that school would be a delight.I hoped he would discover the magical world that lies between the pages of a book instead of seeking stimulation from gadgets and TV.
I hoped he would make friends and learn to work with others. My son loves playing on his own and I often find myself ejecting him out of the house to play with other kids. I didn’t want him to be a loner. So for the entire first term, day after day I quizzed him about his friends. For a while he had no names. Then they started trickling in. The deskie whose leg has plaster. The swimming pal who holds his hand. The girl who spills her food every lunch time. My little champ was getting out of his shell.
I hoped he would be confident. That he would learn to speak up and for himself. That he will speak his mind. That he will learn to talk to grown ups without cowering. That he will stop hiding under my skirt.
I prayed that the potty training would finally stick. That he will stop thinking it’s cool to wet himself. That he will learn to use the bathroom before he reaaally has to go or after he has had an accident.
I hoped he would get indoctrinated into wiping his nose and not licking it. Snout is disgusting even to mummies and handkerchiefs are not fashion accessories for little boys. I also didn’t want kids in his class to remember him as the boy with two rivers perpetually running from his nose.
I hoped he would learn to pray. That he would be God aware. Because it’s beautiful when little hearts can put their trust in a big God.
I hoped he would learn to share. Not just because generosity is a virtue but also because it prevents a lot of problems and fighting among preschoolers.
I hoped he would learn kindness. Because he shares the planet with other people. Because life does not revolve around him. Other kids have needs. Mummies have needs. Teachers have needs. There was going to be no space for being an entitled little brat.
I hoped he would learn that people are different but the same. That school, would expose him to children with different living arrangements, and from different schools of thought and with different skin colour and hair so he does not get stuck in the small ecosystem that is the Muse household.
That he would learn courtesy and respect. Thank you. Please. Excuse me. Not competing with grown ups. Not talking back at grown ups. That no unwholesome talk may come out of his mouth.
That he would learn to talk properly. He would speak good English and Kiswahili and know the difference between the two. That his tenses would catch so he stops saying “the car goed [went]…”
I hoped he would learn to feed himself and not take three hours to finish his lunch.
I hoped he would learn to be safe and to speak out when his boundaries are crossed. This country has some twisted people and child abuse is one of those things we pray to never happen. I needed him to learn about stranger danger, about good and bad strangers. About how to be safe when playing or riding his bike or when at the mall. I needed him to learn about inappropriate touching and when to tell mummy or daddy.
I needed him to learn to wash his hands. because those little hands carry flu after flu, stomach upset after stomach upset. And because little dirty hands are gross. That he would always remember to wash his hands after using the toilet. After playing outside. Before eating.
I hoped he would learn honesty, and to respect other people’s property. No stealing. No lying. And no crying for other people’s toys. Also no fighting and hitting other kids. Because no one loves a bully. And no one loves to be bullied. That he would do to others what he wanted done to himself.
Finally I hoped he would learn to be independent. No more hanging by mommy’s skirts. He would be courageous to go out and play alone without being chaperoned. That he would even seek out new experiences and friends without me pushing them down his throat like a helicopter mom.
Was I hoping for too much? Was I putting a heavy load of demands and expectations on teachers who are undermotivated and way too busy preparing the curriculum and correcting a back facing number five for the umpteenth time to care about boosting confidence and stopping foul language ? I don’t know. Tell me.