Wednesday, May 12, 2010

pre-school trauma

as i have mentioned before, my little girl has been having separation anxiety since she started her pre-school.

day 1 - daddy put her on the van...she went to school waving happily at all of us. we followed the van and we saw that she had cried. we asked the van driver. he said she was quite alright, only started crying as they were about to reach the school. i called her principal, she said my daughter cried now and then but was manageable and that she walked around the school exploring the place. she came home sounding very happy.

day 2 - mummy put her on the van. she turned and cried but i let her go on the van, hoping that she will be alright soon. i followed the van again and i saw that she had cried. she went into the school with an older child who were holding her hand followed by the driver. i called her principal and she said that my daughter cried a little but only at the beginning of the day. she followed one of the teachers everywhere the teacher went.

day 3 - mummy left her to nanni and the maid. disaster. she refused to climb on the van. she was hysteric. so, nanni called and we asked her aunt a favor to send her. she refused to go however her aunt talked her into going. she climbed up the stairs but when she saw the teachers came to receive her, she got hysteric again. she wanted her aunt to follow her into the school. i called the principal and i was told that she only cried in the morning.

day 4 - a holiday because the older children went for concert rehearsal at a different location. boy, she was glad.

day 5 - mummy and daddy was there to send her to school. she cried and refused to up the van. daddy was upset and mummy hugged her, asked her what was wrong. mummy told her that mummy would send her to school. daddy followed in his car. i asked her why wouldn't she go with uncle nasrool, she said, ade ramai orang. her teachers were downstairs receiving the children. she refused to go and i let her teacher carry her up the stairs. she was crying out loud. after a while, i went upstairs without anyone kowing to hear if she was still crying. i heard a teacher ( i was told that my daughter was very close to her) talking on top of her voice to my daughter... stop! stop crying nadia! i heard a tiny voice saying, nak mummy... how do you think i felt at that time!!!! i silently left with a heavy heart. i called her principal and i told her that my daughter is not used to anyone being garang, so, is there anyone being garang to her. of course, the principal told me no and that she only cried in the morning and that i should be patient and that everything will be alright soon. so i hoped as well. weekend to follow the next day.

all week i was doing a research on separation anxiety and how to help her overcome it. i talked to her so much about going to school. sometimes, she gives me the unsure and i don't believe you look. surprisingly, she had happy stories to tell every time she came back from school. she even wakes up in the morning being so alert about going to school, telling me not to be late otherwise uncle nasrool, the van driver would be waiting already. as the time ticks, her tension appears to be mounting and another drama would take place. so, i wondered why going to school was such a difficult task for all of us.

day 6 - mummy coaxed her into going to school in the van but she refused frantically to come out of the house, let alone going near the van. she wanted mummy to send her instead. she then, refused to leave the car. mummy talked her into going to school by showing other children who were going up the stairs. she followed the other children smiling happily at them, yet holding mummy's hand firmly. she kept telling me.. mummy, come inside, ok. just as i was going to let her into the school, her teacher came to get her. oh no... my daughter went hysteric again. one other teacher (the one i was told my daughter was close to) came and scooped her into the school. the way my daughter cried since day 3 sounded like please save me. i didn't feel good. her teacher told me not to worry as she would only cry for about 4 minutes. i was assured and turned to leave. i went down the stairs only to realise that i wasn't wearing my shoes. i went up again and by then i was so tired from the fiasco. i sat at the stairs to rest while eavesdropping (whether i could hear her cry). i heard someone crying and the teacher called out to the helper to clean my daughter up since she had vomited. she must have cried so hard. i heard the helper say, why cry nadia.... then i heard someone (the teacher my daughter was supposed to be close to) screaming, stop crying! to my great astonishment, it was followed by.... bang, i am angry at whoever cry in the school!!! the tiny crying sound slowly disappeared. a teacher saw me there and immediately went in, i suppose to warn that i was outside.

i can't express how i felt at that time. it was as if someone had just stabbed me in the heart. i left and as i was driving, i did some thinking. what do i do? many solutions came to my mind. take her out of that place. or have a talk to the principal and relate to her what had happened. we shall wait until the trial period to be over and if the situation didn't improve, take her out.

i went home and woke my husband up since we were going to my O&G that day. i told my husband in an irritated voice, quick....wake up, i am stressed. when he asked me sleepily, i related to him what i heard. i did some crying too. he jumped up and said, let's go get her. i was reluctant because i wanted to think through and find the best solution to this problem. i have started a process and i didn't want to stop it and start all over again considering the fact that i can see that my daughter is learning and she sounds happy about going to school. it is just the going to school in the mornings being the problem. i assume that i have found the answer to why that happens. my daughter is having separation anxiety and is traumatised by that woman!!!

i told my husband that we need to discuss and look at every angle before we decide what to do. i wanted to do what is best for my daughter. i wanted to personally talk to the principal about the incident and let my daughter complete the trial. my husband wanted to take her out and try her out in the USJ branch (my husband was impressed with them earlier but transportation was the issue). i agreed to my husband's decision.

we were all charged to meet the principal and take our daughter home. we were greeted by the helper... nadia ok and she rattled on. my husband refused to look at her and firmly said, i want to talk to the principal. i went into the principal's room and said, can i talk to you? she nodded. we both went in and sat facing her. my husband was silent while i gave my speech. this is how i started and my piece were more or less like this....

i just want to tell you that before we decided to send my daughter here, we did lots of research and one of the reasons for sending her here is the islamic foundation that this place offers. my daughter is the kind of a girl who is so happy to be with friends and teachers, she is very independent and a happy child. i know she can get used to this new environment quite easily. we had mentally prepared her to go to school and she has always been positive about going to school.

i related to her how nadia nasira's was from day 1.

i was wondering why my daughter becomes agitated and desperate the moment she had to step into the school. today, i believe i found the answer. she doesn't feel safe here. is this the way to treat a 3 year old child who is having separation anxiety? is this your teaching policy? if it is so, i don't think i want my daughter here. i have been doing research on how to deal with this situation. i read articles written by non muslims on how gentle you have to be dealing with separation anxiety. i have been talking to her, comforting her and coaxing her to go to school but when she finally agrees to come, she is being yelled at for feeling whatever she has been feeling. i think she is traumatised. to think that she had just cried so much and vomited, yet she was yelled at and been told how angry the teacher was at anyone who cried in the school. is this how you handle the situation. when i was told that she only cries about 4 minutes, now i know what made her stop crying.... fear! instead of making her feel save and comforted for leaving her safe zone, fear has been instilled in her. when you say that my daughter had been following this teacher around, now i wonder why did she do that. fear??? is this why you don't allow parents to be here?

since she was born, i have been reading books on how to raise my children and i have been teaching her how to read fatihah and all other doas. at her age, she can read fatihah, doas and zikir. i have been taking her to playschool and she is used to the learning experience though the environment is different. i have been doing my best for her because she is precious to me like your children are to you. i am sorry i have to have this conversation with you but i am so disappointed and upset. i dont think i want my child to continue being here.

the principal was dumb-founded. my husband added, we are here having this conversation because of my wife. if it was me, i would take my daughter out and put this place into trouble. she mummbled.... maybe, i can call the teacher here? i said, i don't want to talk to anyone else. i don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. i am talking to you because you are the principle and is responsible here.

this was when i saw my daughter who had been in the hall outside all along practicing for their upcoming concert, running happily to go to her class after the practice. suddenly she looked towards me, unable to register that mummy was there. once she realised that, she exclaimed, amma (she calls me whatever she likes... mummy, amma, mum, maa)!!! she stood at the door and when her teacher said, later. come. she happily waved at me and ran after her teacher.

this was when i paused and told my husband.... look, she is happy here. i dont think we should take her out. he nodded.

i turned to the principal and said, look at how happy she is.... she is not a clingy person, otherwise she would have come running to me when she saw me. she wouldn't have wanted to follow her teacher into the class. so, what is bothering her in the morning? i want to continue letting her be here but i need a favor from you. i will appreciate if you could allow us to be here in the morning just to make her feel assured and safe. we will leave a little later once she is settled. until one point, i would teach her to let go.

the principal agreed unvoluntarily. we thanked her and we left.

i know it is going to be tough to make her forget whatever that had frightened of in the beginning but i will try anyway. i sent her assuring her that mummy is going to be around, stayed in the pantry for a while and left. not once did she come to check whether i was still there although when we first arrived at the school, she would hessitate. maybe, she was afraid mummy won't stay. i guess she felt safe whenever i was around. of course she would feel safe. she had not been yelled at eversince as compared to mummy not being there in the mornings. she learns and she goes home a happy child.

where do we go from here? what shall i do? how do i teach my baby to let go? parenting is very challenging as it demands time, energy, lots of patience and sacrifice. i am struggling as i need to do the right thing.

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