Friday, September 21, 2007

A Daughter's Independence

Do you sometimes feel that you know the exact moment when a milestone happens in your life? In 1981, on the first day that my eldest daughter entered a big school, I knew it was the beginning of the process of letting her go.

My eldest daughter was 4-1/2 years old when she entered St. Scholastica’s College as a prep student. She looked great in her blue and white uniform, carried her own school bag and lunch box without help from me, ready to face the challenges of grade school.

I joined the 40 or so parents (mostly mothers, some fathers) and nannies who were watching the class from outside the window of our children’s classroom, each of us just watching our own daughter or ward. Every now and then, the teacher would come out and ask us to please leave the children and wait at the designated waiting areas – which were far from the classroom.

It was like a dance, and we were moving to and fro. When the teacher got busy attending to the children – some of whom were crying and some did not want to be left in the classroom, we parents would inch our way to the windows, some even crowding at the doors. Then the teacher would shoo us away, and we would move away. At least, for a little while. Then one parent would dare move closer, positioning herself where the teacher would not see or notice her. If she succeeded, another parent would follow suit, and another. Then, the teacher would come out and talk to the parents, pleading with them to let the children settle down in class. At first, she would be reassuring, but later everyone could see that she was getting annoyed.

I was one of those parents tiptoeing back and forth until my daughter marched out of the room, and said to me in a reprimanding tone – “My teacher said you should wait there.” – pointing to a place several meters from her classroom. I think that was the first time that I felt my four-year old daughter was actually scolding ME, her mother.

It was at that precise moment that I knew that someday soon, she would no longer be mama’s little girl. My little daughter was ready for the big, wide world, and I knew I had to prepare myself to let her go. It was the day I learned to say goodbye. The day I knew she would succeed in life. I was a proud mother that day. I still am.

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