Back to School

January 8, 2009

I don’t remember much about my first day at school. Except for my father dropping me off at my classroom before making his way to work.

However, I remember feeling amused by my vertically challenged class teacher. As she was quite short, she had to climb on a chair in order to write on the blackboard. She used to ask one of the pupils in the front row to get up so she could borrow her chair.

The recent Monday was my daughter’s first day at primary school. I stayed on to make sure that she was able to settle in well. And, as soon as I handled some paper work with her teacher, I made my way to the canteen.

At the canteen, I saw how organised some mothers were and I must say that I was amazed. While waiting for recess time, these mothers, some of whom had Bluetooth headset on, made business and work calls. Others were reading books/photocopied notes, striking things off their check -lists and studying their list of phone numbers. One mother even had a 3G modem with her.

I came unprepared. I didn’t even have a book on me, thinking I won’t have the time for it.

When school finished my daughter asked me how I felt on my first day. At that time, I wasn’t able to relate much. So, this is my attempt at remembering my first day at school in 1976.

I remember back when mothers used to accompany their kids to school either by bus, or walking. They would be clad in their blouses and sarongs and carry along an umbrella. Then, it was not common to see a mother drive her kids to school.

Their activities, while waiting on their children, include chit chatting with each other, and some would just doze off. Probably catching up on the sleep they lost from the night before. Once the recess bell rang they would look for their kids and take out the food they had packed from home.

The most entrepreneurial mother I knew back in school was probably one “mak cik” (auntie) who sold “kerepek” (crackers) at the school gate. Her effort was probably short-lived when the canteen operator confronted her for “stealing” her customers. I remember the “mak cik” leaving with tears in her eyes.

Times have changed. Where I grew up in, mothers either keep their full time jobs or are full time mums. Today, technology has allowed more mothers to have the best of both worlds.

I guess if the “mak cik” were to sell his “kerepek” now, she would probably not be caught by the canteen operator. She could very well do it on line. And with a Bluetooth headset, she could even do it discreetly.


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