It's August 11 now. School started in June 22 so it's been almost 2 months since my 2-year 10-month old son Ton has been going to school.
On his first day, he walked straight into the classroom without looking back. But for the next 6 weeks (2 weeks of which saw classes being suspended for one reason or another), Ton would refuse to go into the classroom without me tailing after him. His yaya also had to be within sight.
Ton in his Montessori shirt
When I would try to slowly step away he would run to me and cling to my leg. Of course sometimes he would be so preoccupied with his Montessori materials that yaya and I would manage to sneak away to the hallway only to hear him screaming and crying a few seconds later. His teachers would then run after him as he tried to escape and eventually, in order for him to stay in the classroom, they would close the door.
Yesterday, however, was different. I was expecting him to cling since it was Monday (and he usually is more clingy after a weekend) but instead he went into the classroom then looked at me to make sure I was still standing there. I looked at him and said, "bye Ton, I'll see you later," to which he walked away towards his teacher.
I hurriedly ran out the door and braced myself for screaming... but there was none. I waited for the teacher to close the door, but she did not. Finally, Ton has adjusted to school. At last, he is not clinging to me. I was relieved; but I was not happy. I had gotten so used to Ton needing me all those early mornings that when he finally got used to being left behind, I felt sad.
It's funny how from June to July, Ton had separation anxiety so intense that he would sometimes cry for two hours straight in the classroom. Yesterday, it was his mom who felt the separation anxiety. Call me O.A. but I wanted to cry.
When I picked him up after 3 hours of school, I noticed that the door was closed. I asked the teacher's aide who was sitting in the hallway why the door was closed and she said, "sinara e." A part of me was excited to hear that Ton was looking for me again but the aide said, "sinara ng anak mo para walang lumabas." I smiled because my baby had finally learned to see school as a safe and happy place.
I think now of my original baby boy, Paolo (who just turned 18 last Sunday). Soon, I will see him off to college. In the US, "going to college" is not quite the same as it is here in the Philippines. Paolo's choice of universities are not in our home state of California. In a few months, all he will have time for is a short phone call every quarter. Maybe he will visit us on Christmas or during his summer break... maybe not... most probably not.