Three weeks ago, our daughter Ayinza started going to daycare. She started by attending a 3-hr session. The plan was that she gradually gets used to the idea before she starts the longer, official sessions. I thought I would document the whole experience in one go. I couldn’t. So I decided to serialise them.
Here’s the beginning.
The trial sessions, as I wrote a few weeks ago, went astonishingly great. She loved it all, sometimes completely ignoring me when I walked out of the room before proceeding to take charge of the table where two of her classmates were drawing. Peeping through the glass at the top of the door, I saw her grab all the crayons in one hand and then start distributing them, with all three (herself included) getting one crayon each until they were all finished. Then it was back to square one: give me those crayons? Ok, you get one, he gets one, I get one….
I smiled and walked away, making my way to the park nearby. As I did, I called my mother.
“Mummy, why didn’t you tell me it would be so hard to walk away?” I asked.
“Walk away?” she asked.
“Yes. I am a few meters away from the nursery, having dropped Netanya off, but feel like calling them to find out how she is doing!”
Mother laughed. She laughed so hard the way I had not heard her do in a very long time.
She asked me to tell her how I felt. And as I did, she kept laughing and laughing and laughing.
Then I heard her laugh turn into a bit of a cry. That heartfelt laugh-cry we all let out when something is simultaneously funny and emotionally moving.
“Thank you Ganzi,” she said.
“For what?” I asked.
“For reminding me exactly what it was like sending each of you to school,” she said.
She proceeded to tell me about the first day of school for each one of my siblings and I.
The pride of a dotting mother seeing her child start a new phase of their life.
The worry of a loving mother that wishes to protect her loved one from all harm and insecurity.
The hopes of a parent who wishes to give their child the whole world and then some.
And as she spoke, I found some comfort in knowing that she understood.
The hope that my daughter will just blend in so naturally, it’ll be like she did this every day.
The hope that my daughter will stand out so significantly, she’ll be everyone else’s yardstick.
The hope that my daughter will cry for me, because riyale, how else will people know how much love flows between the two of us.
The hope that my daughter will not cry, because of course she’s a strong and capable young lady.
All the pride and fear that come from one’s little one growing up – perhaps a little too quickly.
We talked and talked and talked some more. And before I knew it, it was almost time to pick Netanya up.
I hadn’t called the nursery to find out how she was doing. Mum had helped distract me from that.
I walked back to the nursery to pick up our daughter. On my way, I wondered how she had fared.
Had she charmed everyone there the way she did us the very first day we heard her heartbeat?
Had she made friends already or learnt something new?
Did she cry a lot?
Did they understand her when she asked them to “sit” or pointed to the nearest door and declared “susu” or “no”? Did she ask to “pwess” and did they figure out she wanted to press whatever it was they were holding?
Did she like it?
I climbed up the stairs to the room where my daughter and her classmates were. I opened the door.
She was busy rearranging wooden bits on the table.
She looked up.
Then she cried.
And run to me.
She hugged me like she had never done before.
I hugged her back like I had never done before.
But only because someone had been peeling onions in the room (I think).
I asked her teachers how she’d been.
“Oh she was brilliant!” they said
“Of course,” I thought.
And hugged my daughter even tighter. She had stopped crying now but was clinging to me like she never had.
“Don’t let go” she seemed to be saying. “Don’t leave me here again!”
I picked her up and we made our way home to mummy.
Fear and Hope had fought all day.
Day One was done.
Hope had won.
It always does.