It started on a Sunday morning.
Jiejie helped to stick the labels with Allie’s name onto her water bottle and milk bottle, and also packed her sleeping bag while wondering aloud, “Allie ah, what if you don’t know how to make your bed? You know or not?”
My caption for this picture: Careful Jiejie, Carefree Meimei.
So happy and proud to be wearing the same school uniform as Jiejie.
Obligatory pose with all the bags.
Looking so prim and proper and grown up.
We sat at the furthest end, just watching her with her big sister.
She danced along happily to all the songs.
I don’t think she even remembered to look out for us, until her sister and the rest of the school started walking back to their respective classrooms.
She spotted us watching from outside the classroom so her teacher asked me to go in with her.
She stuck close to me for all of two minutes.
Soon it was time for the playground.
She was so happy!
We sat there watching her, and not once did she even walk or glance in our direction.
We let her go back to the classroom with her teachers after they were done with the playground.
She seemed alright, entertaining herself.
So we took a break.
Went for a dimsum brunch. 😅
We went back to the school around the toddlers’ lunch time at 11am, and found Allie asleep in her English teacher’s arms. 😂
She’d started crying when she didn’t see us, and refused to eat lunch.
She was ok with her friends consoling her though, and fell asleep after she’d calmed down.
I joined her in the classroom after tea break, which she refused to touch.
We gave her a yoghurt pouchie instead.
She went around the classroom on her own, joining in different activities or playing with random toys.
She was the only kid who helped to put the crayons back into the box!
Erm but spot the itchy hand on the overhead projector while the others are looking at the screen. 🙈
Erm, cat-walking with two eggs.
And then she found her favourite toy in the classroom.
An elephant watering can.
Several of her classmates tried to take or snatch it from her, including a boy who is at least 1.5 heads taller than her and nearly an entire year older.
She held on to it tightly, at times whining and looking at me for help, but she managed to hold on to it every single time.
I didn’t have to intervene.
At the end of the day she was still holding on to it.. and we had to take it home with us because she simply refused to let go.
We thought she’d be so hungry at dinner time she’d eat anything.. and we were right only about the hunger.
She wanted to eat rice, and only rice, for dinner.
“Rice,” she would say and I would give her rice.
And then I’d scoop some meat or carrot with the rice to feed her.
“No,” she would shake her head and avoid the spoon.
“Rice,” she would repeat, pointing at the plain rice.
So I had to scoop only the plain rice and show it to her before she opened her mouth.
I asked her when she woke up, “Do you want to put on your school uniform?”
She nodded her head happily and said, “Yas!”
She was happy to join the big boys and girls at the assembly area, running off on her own to dance before running back to sit down beside me.
But overall, she was more clingy on Day 2.
I had to go into her classroom with her.
Teapot game got stronger. 😆😆
I snuck out while she was engrossed in her Chinese teacher’s story telling.
Also because the hubs got bored waiting for me outside.
We went for coffee and toast before heading back to the school.
She refused to touch her lunch again.
Her teachers had asked me to be present at meal times so I can try persuading her to eat, but it didn’t work.
She saw the yoghurt pouch and only wanted that.
I followed her back to the classroom after lunch. The kids had some time to chill while taking turns to go for their shower.
I went into the bathroom with her and got to witness communal showering, the adorable version.
She cried while getting showered but was ok getting dressed. She also heeded the instructions to sit down to wait for her classmates to be done.
When everyone was done, they had to hold on to their respective shower bags and walk out of the bathroom in a line.
I thought I could sneak out but she sensed it. Immediately threw her shower bag onto the floor and hugged my legs.
So we headed back to the classroom where the mattresses were already set for nap. She drank her milk while hugging baby bunny, and turned to check every two minutes if I was still sitting beside her.
She fell asleep quite quickly and I left the classroom.
We came back again at tea break.
Her teachers told us she did well!
No fussing or crying after she woke up, and ate some cake and drank half a cup of milk.
So they told us to continue staying away and we sat outside watching Jiejie play sportball instead.
#mamarazzi from the window.
She was playing nicely on her own, and even stopped to check on her crying classmate.
I saw her patting his head to console him.
For dinner on Day 2, she insisted on eating corn, and only corn. Not with rice, not with anything else.
The real test.
(All photos shared by her Chinese teacher!)
She clung onto me at the main entrance so I carried her into the classroom to look for her favorite teapots.
It didn’t really calm her down or distract her so I left a crying Allie in the arms of the teacher.
There were no calls from the school throughout the day so I assumed she was doing fine.
We packed some corn in the thermos, just in case she refused to eat her lunch.
I rushed home from work just in time to catch them from the school bus!
Jiejie updated us on what happened after we left the school.
“Mummy, do you know what managed to calm her down? Teacher brought her to the toilet to wash her hands, and she stopped crying leh!”
“But you know hor? During assembly Allie went to lie down on the floor!” She said and proceeded to show me what Allie did – tummy to floor, legs kicking like she was swimming. “I told her to get up but she didn’t want to!”
“I was practising for my concert and didn’t get to remind her teacher that she’s taking the school bus. When I got there Allie was already there. She was so happy to see me! All the friends in the bus like Allie! They tell me she’s so cute and they all want to touch her cheeks. The school bus Auntie also like Allie a lot!”
I quickly checked the comm book and the thermos. All the corn was still there, untouched. And her Chinese teacher wrote in the comm book, “this afternoon (she) ate two half bowls of white rice”.
I realised she’d sent me an email with photo updates sometime after lunch but I was too busy trying to finish as much work as I could to check.
Lunch was supposed to be fried rice but they prepared plain rice for her, just in case.
She picked the plain rice.
She had a lot of fun at the playground and in the classroom.
Her teacher said she’s highly adaptable and adjusting very well.
I guess the biggest adjustment needed would be meals.
Clarissa at the same age did not have a problem with meals in school. I’ve always considered Clarissa to be quite picky and less adventurous with food, but because she’s sensitive and quite competitive by nature, meals in school were not a problem. She saw other kids eating on their own and followed suit. Her teachers then kept telling us how well she ate. 😆
But Allie.. doesn’t quite care about what others are doing or saying to her. 😅😅
And she’s probably to overwhelmed by everything else and cannot handle more than one type of food at any given time.
Last night she fought with Clarissa over a toy. Clarissa gave it to her eventually, but went into her room, upset.
Allie sensed it and said, “Jiejie?”
We encouraged her to go check on Jiejie and she immediately walked into the room to give Jiejie a pat on the head, while talking a whole string of gibberish.
I think in some ways we’ve focused more on how Allie is adjusting and overlooked that Clarissa needs to adapt, too.
This morning she was not able to finish her milk (which she usually slurps up within minutes) and told me she had a tummy ache and couldn’t go to school. She was even willing to see a doctor and stay at home without watching the TV.
I wanted to give her the benefit of doubt and send her to the doctor, but she really looked alright to us.
“If I don’t go to school, would the teachers remember that Allie needs to take the school bus home?” She asked me when I told her Allie would have to go to school on her own today.
I told her the teachers would know what to do, but her question made me realise that perhaps she wanted to skip school because she was feeling stressed up about not being able to take good care of Allie.
I gently tried to probe further, and she started tearing up a little.
Indeed she is anxious about Allie sticking to her and yet not following instructions. She isn’t able to get Allie to listen to her and to follow instructions. She is worried about having to remind Allie’s teachers to send her to the school bus, since she has to follow her own class’ schedule.
I guess when we adults casually tell her to “take care of Allie”, it sounds so simple and straightforward to us we don’t actually understand what it entails.
To Clarissa, it means making sure that Allie stays out of trouble and gets into the school bus on time. And this is a huge responsibility on the small shoulders of a 4.5-year-old, what’s more with a 1.5-year-old who is so carefree and yet so careless.
I have no doubt she loves her little sister, from the way she always gives in to her and watches out for her, and the sheepiness in her tone when I told her Allie would have to go to school on her own.
When we assured her that the teachers would take care of Allie’s school bus timing and that she could ask the teachers for help if Allie is doing something dangerous, she was willing to get changed into her school uniform.
I guess her tummyache was due to anxiety, and the prospect of having to ensure Allie behaves well in school was so stressful she’d rather skip school, despite her loving and enjoying school.
Big hugs to both of them.
We can do this!
(And I wonder, what is she going to insist on eating for dinner tonight? 😂)