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Musings of an Aunty Without Apron Strings

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar recalls her children’s first days of school.

God be praised; finally, our children are where they belong, back in school! Hats off to the administrators and teachers for promptly adjusting education to the needs of this strange hour. So, before things change beyond recognition, I’ll share the first-day dramas of my four.

During my second pregnancy, I was advised total bedrest. Without the luxury of chauffeurs in Kobe, I reluctantly entrusted my margarine-hearted hubby with settling our eldest into her first day at nursery. He succumbed to her dramas for a whole week, after which I stepped in and did what I had to do. Me and my tummy got behind the wheel, then I disentangled my arms, legs, and heart from the screeching, bawling, chubby little girl at the classroom door. Thereafter, there’s been no looking back for the soccer-mum that she is today.

My son took his first day to another level. He punched and kicked poor Miss Sakuma and blabbered incoherent threats, one being, “my mom will come and get you!” Me, his super-heroine!

The third; my sweet and gentle darling, who never, ever gave a day’s trouble, quietly and diligently went to class. Then steadily, took step upon step and earned herself a doctorate in education.

I was a mature 33 when my youngest was born. The elder three had transformed into mute adolescents with grunts as vocabulary, and mum was but a housekeeper with a thick wallet. So, I bequeathed her time and attention, and unearthed joy under the diapers! Since she was going to-and-fro with me for her sibling’s school, she was eager to join. But I selfishly held her back till she was past four. Then the day’s highlight became walking up the slope home from the school-bus stop across the gokoku-jinja (shrine/playground). Alas! This simple pleasure ended too soon; she wanted to walk, ride buses and trains unchaperoned, like all the kids in Japan.  

The school years in Kobe are smudged into one linear, hectic, crazy day after another; irrespectively, I made time to go see their performances. I still recollect the thrill on their cherubic faces at seeing me; it made and still makes the travails of motherhood worth its while!

Fast forward to our dhotraa’s (maternal grandson’s) first day at ELC. The little chap in two side-pompoms, though nervous, readily let go of his nanoo’s (maternal-granddad’s) hand and sat on the small, yellow, wooden chair assigned him. But his mum was fighting a losing battle holding back her tears and the urge to hug him tight and never let him go. I guess mums will be mums; never quite ready to cut the apron-strings!

The confident adult of tomorrow is a child raised on a healthy dose of honest praise and a miserly dose of criticism and fault-finding; one free from comparisons. ‘To err is human’, but a blunder, any blunder, is never a reason to be brandished as a bad child. It’s but a learning experience; with support, the child acquires the courage to be honest and then take on the
responsibility of righting that mistake. Integrity and sincerity, together with mettle, are solid building blocks for self-respect and self-esteem in the distant tomorrow. Meanwhile, let our young enjoy that short stint of innocence and naivety. Let them entertain their fantasies and visions. Allow them the Santa and the fairies. It’s perfectly fashionable for your boy to learn ballet, and super cool for you to accept a ride to the moon on your little girl’s Barbie’s pink Cadillac.

Teaching is a job well worth crediting. Good teachers not only impart book knowledge but instil respect and appreciation for diversity amongst peers, while also promoting tolerance and acceptance of individual variations, something vital in today’s world. It’s into the care of teachers we’ve entrusted our precious offspring, our descendants, to be moulded into responsible grown-ups – grown-ups in whose hands lie the fate of our home, the planet Earth!

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