Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Isaac at childcare!

Guess what? I gave up. Am now back using the old blogger editor. Alright, so I am an old coot for not wanting to change. But I can't figure out the new editor! The pictures and words wouldn't go where I want them to! Grrrr...

Anyway, on with the show! :)
Guess where we've been these past two weeks? Isaac has started childcare! So I was with him in class for three half days last week, so like, ease him in. We started him last week on half day first, then this week onwards he goes full week.

We struggled for quite awhile before deciding to send Isaac to childcare. I'm going back to work come 1st April, you see (so fast hor?!). And my observations these past 11 weeks tells me that if Isaac doesn't go to childcare full time, he'd be watching tv half the time at home, and the other half - he'd be making a fuss, as he's been rather jealous of the twins.

We decided that it'd be good for Isaac to go childcare so that he can make more friends, learn to play with other kids (as in, SHARE boy, SHARE!), and learn how to be independent (like being toilet trained, and eating on his own) etc.
I took these pix on the third and final half day that I spent with him in class. Overall, it was a great experience for me, I enjoyed being around the kids and they seemed to like me as well. Briefly, I toyed with the idea that perhaps I could be a childcare teacher. But then, I realised that if the kids pooped, I'd have to clean them. So out went that idea :p

Seriously, the kids in Isaac's N1 class were very sweet and mostly mild-mannered. So much so that Isaac - who is usually mild mannered - seemed like the most strong headed and unreasonable one there! hahahaha... Indeed, we're blessed that Isaac has such gentle classmates. But he'd better learn how to behave!
See, this is Isaac trying to wink. He's been trying to learn to wink for a few weeks now. He wanted to learn to wink after he saw Mater wink at Lighting McQueen in Cars. He'd try to wink, like in the photo above, and tell me "Mummy, look!" Then I'd say "Ah! Is Isaac trying to wink?!" Then I'd wink back at him :)

Oh by the way, quick note before I start my long story - see Isaac's new hairdo? Quite cute, right? His Papa cut for him one!!! hahahhaa... Coz we've been trying to get Isaac to agree to a haircut for ages, but he's always refused. Then one night, hubbs said before bathing Isaac "Papa cut your hair, okay?" Isaac said "Okay." nodding his head, and so hubbs quickly took my scissors and sniped off whatever he thought shouldn't be there. And this was the result! Cool, right?! Way to go, hubbs!
Other than the blurry pictures above, I couldn't get Isaac to stand still and pose for me. But his classmates were certainly more willing to do so! :) That's Marcel, Xin Rui and Jia Ying. And in the single shot below is Macy.
In general, Isaac seems to like the childcare place and people from the very first moments. He was immediately at ease and could join in the activities, though he made sure to keep me nearby "Mummy, come! Sit down!". Sometimes, I'd intentionally sit a distance away, but as long as he could see me, he was very much at ease.

As time passed, it was apparent that Isaac would settle in fine, but that he'd a few main issues that needed tackling... Well basically, he wasn't very willing to share the toys (which were not his to begin with!), and he was kinda... particular...
This is how it went. Main incidents highlights:

DAY ONE

Episode: No Share Cars!!!

The kids were playing near their dining area with some toys: cars, plastic links, fake muffins etc. Isaac got his hand on some toy cars, and had this fantastic idea of keeping them for himself to play only. So he got the plastic box (which was previously holding the plastic links) and placed the cars in them. He brought the box to me to ask me to close it, after having tried, unsuccessfully to close it.

Kevin saw the cars and wanted to play with them. Much to Isaac's dismay, Kevin managed to reach for the cars before the box was closed! Isaac quickly pulled Kevin's hands away and said:"No! Mine mine!!!" Then I started to tell him "Isaac, please share. These are not your toys, they are for sharing." But of course, he wouldn't listen, and he was getting increasingly upset coz Kevin kept trying to open the box to reach for the cars. Isaac kept pulling Kevin's hands out, and tried to shut the box at the same time.
With the commotion, we attracted Marcel's attention too. Now, Marcel wanted to play with the toy cars too and he too tried to get at them. So the commotion heightened with Kevin & marcel trying to get at the cars while Isaac was frantically trying to get me to close the box and keeping the boys at bay.

So, by now there was quite a lot of noise (mainly from Isaac crying, and me trying to talk sense to him - Kevin & Marcel were actually not making much noise at all...), so we attracted the attention of Xin Rui and Jiaying as well - now THEY wanted to play with the said toy cars too!

So everyone wanted the cars, but no one more than Isaac who was throwing a big tantrum by now. Crying and all. Teacher Lina came and tried to talk him into sharing as well, but seeing that he wasn't about to budge, quickly asked the rest of the kids to play with other toys. Amazingly, they all listened to her and almost immediately turned and played with something else. Amazing, not coz I doubt the teacher's ability to handle the kids, but amazing because the kids complied so quickly and quietly!
With the others not fussing anymore, Teacher Lina tried to persuade Isaac to share again. Which he refused. Then she said:"Oh, let's clean up! We need this box to put the plastic links in, Isaac. can we have this box, please? After this, we go and play playdoh, ok?"

Well, it didn't work. Firstly coz Isaac was very upset and throwing a right tantrum by then. Secondly, Isaac has never played with playdoh nor plasticine before, so he wasn't in the least tempted by the next activity. Seeing that it didn't work, Teacher Lina quickly led the others away to the playdoh station before any of the kids can be affected by Isaac's tantrum.

After they walked away. I was left with a fuming Isaac who was calming down since he already has his cars in the box, and no one was snatching them from him. After he calmed down a bit, I said:"Shall we clean up and go and look for the rest?" He looked at me, nodded, and we proceeded to keep the links in the box, put the box away, and then he happily skipped off to join the rest at the playdoh station. END of Episode: No Share Cars!
Episode: He Hit Me!

This happened on the first day as well. It was lunch time, and the kids were already seated at their designated dining table. Teacher Lina was scooping their food, and I was momentarily distracted as well, as I was trying to see what the kids' lunch was.

Suddenly I was aware of the beginnings of a commotion, quickly turned around to look at the kids at the table, and I just managed to catch Jiaying (seated on the left of Isaac) and Qiu Yi (seated on the right of Isaac) hit Isaac. Was just a slight slap, nothing serious, and Isaac probably hit them first to begin with. But just as I looked over, Isaac quickly gave me a panicky "yikes!" look.

I quickly stepped over and said to everyone:"Eh? Eh? What is this? No hitting, please. Nobody should be hitting anybody." The kids quickly turned quiet and all looked guiltily at me. "Isaac, you cannot hit your friends ah. And Jiaying, you cannot hit Isaac. Come, shake hands, be friends." I said this in chinese, as I sensed that Jiaying and Qiu Yi were more conversant in mandarin.
Isaac was appeased, and reached for Jiaying's hand, wanting to shake it. But Jiaying, a bit startled by Isaac reaching for her hand, pulled away her hand and refused to shake his hand. This caused Isaac to be upset as he wanted to shake her hand. He started to brew, getting more and more upset.

Macy and Xin Rui who were seated across the table from Isaac and Qiu Yi, saw that Isaac was getting more and more upset, quickly offered to shake his hands. But Isaac said:"No!!! I want to shake HER hand!" he cried, pointing to Jiaying.Just as Isaac was starting to crescendo into a huge tantrum, I managed to persuade Jiaying to shake his hand. Having shook hands with Jiaying, Isaac immediately calmed down. Suddenly, the whole table of kids were shaking hands with each other, chanting:"Wo4 wo4 shou3, zuo4 peng2 you3" literally translated as "Shake hands and be friends!" hahaha...Just as I thought the episode had ended, Isaac looked at me, pointed to Qiu Yi and said:"Mummy, he beat me, scold him." Hahahhahaa... I wanted to burst out laughing. Luckily, I managed to control myself and look serious.

I quickly looked at Qiu Yi:"Qiu Yi, bu4 ke2 yi3 da3 Wenyuan, kuai4 wo4 wo4 shou3." Thankfully, Qiu Yi quickly shook Isaac's hand, and that was that. Peace!!!

END of Episode: He Beat Me!
DAY TWO

Episode: I Keep Myself!

Isaac was happily playing with blocks. It was time to keep the toys the kids have been playing with, so Kevin and Marcel came over and started to help Isaac keep the blocks in the plastic container too, as they had been playing with the blocks before Isaac went to play with them. Isaac started to say "No! No keep! Isaac keep!!!" He wanted to do all the keeping and didn't want the rest to help him!

I was kinda amused coz usually kids don't want to do the keeping, but here is my Isaac, wanting to do ALL the keeping and not allowing others to help him?! Trying to keep a straight face, I said "Isaac, it's okay. Marcel and Kevin played with the blocks too, let them help you keep." But he was having none of it, as he steadily grew more and more angry with Kevin & Marcel.

Finally, he broke out into a full tantrum with crying and all. He insisted on pouring out all the blocks on the floor again to keep them all by himself. Teacher Lina quickly herded the rest away. And so, only after the rest left, did Isaac calm down.

I asked him if he would allow me to help him keep, he nodded a "yes". As I helped him put the blocks away, I kept telling him how it is okay to 'clean up' together with his classmates, his friends. That other people just want to help. As always, after he has calmed down, Isaac would just listen to me talk and would not refute me like he does when he is still worked up and upset (like "No! Don't say 'clean up together'!!! No!!!") We kept the box, and went to join the rest.

End of Episode: I Keep Myself!

Episode: He Touched My Bottle!

This happened on Day Two as well. It was beginning to seem like there'd be 2 incidents per day, at least! ;p It was milk time (picture above!) - the period of time just after lunch and just before nap time that the kids would get their milk. Most kids would have their formula milk mixed for them by the teacher using supplies brought by the respective parents, but our Isaac would be drinking his fresh chocolate milk - he had only recently started to drink this.

As most of you would know, Isaac didn't drink anything other than breast milk from me, so it was a relief when he started to drink fresh milk recently, albeit chocolate flavoured. We mitigated the chocolate factor by mixing chocolate milk with plain milk. During these first few days of school, I would prepare his chocolate milk by premixing it and storing it in a sports bottle - the kind that has this pull up spout which he would drink from, milk bottle style.

So they were seated at the table, all drinking milk. (See picture above) On the day of this incident, Kevin was seated across the table from Isaac. Kevin didn't drink milk, so he didn't have a bottle. I was there, seated behind Isaac and was momentarily distracted by something else. In that split moment, I think Kevin touched Isaac's bottle which was on the table, and caused it to topple over. Teacher Lina was there and quickly righted the bottle.

It all happened so fast that I didn't see Kevin knock the bottle over, nor did I even catch Teacher Lina putting the bottle upright again. All I know is, before I could say "What happened huh?" our dear Isaac was bawling loudly "He touched my bottle!!! He touched my bottle!!!" Very upset he was.

Kevin probably touched to bottle to see if it was cold (or whatever) and accidentally knocked it over. The bottle wasn't harmed as it was a hardy plastic one, and I couldn't see a drop of split milk at all. But that didn't stop Isaac from launching into another tantrum. SIGH.

As I was telling Isaac that "It's okay, Isaac. your bottle is fine." Teacher Lina quickly asked Kevin to apologise. The poor boy was so bewildered by Isaac's reaction - he looked at Isaac and said "But, but, he is crying?" in a puzzled manner. He couldn't understand why Isaac was behaving like that. And so, in his puzzled state of mind, he did not apologise.

This made Isaac all the more angry and he started to launch himself over the table, wanting to hit Kevin! He managed a slight slap on Kevin's arm before I could restrain him. Even with me holding him, Isaac was still trying to hit Kevin. I was positively using all my strength to hold Isaac back, and telling him "No, no, you cannot hit Kevin. You cannot hit people!" And Isaac was going "I can hit Kevin! I can hit people!!!" while Kevin continued to look at Isaac puzzledly, muttering "He is crying???"
This went on for quite awhile as our Isaac had a lot of stamina. At one point, he wanted to get down from his chair, and walk away from the table, so I let him go, thinking he'd decided not to hit Kevin afterall. NOT. Wrong choice I made, coz Isaac was actually wanting to run around to Kevin's side of the table to hit him!!! I realised this midway and quickly managed to catch Isaac and bring him back to his seat again.

But somehow, still, in a split moment when my grip on him slipped, Isaac managed to hit Kevin. Quite a hard hit it was, on the eyes too. I felt very bad and started to scold Isaac for hitting Kevin. Kevin did not even try to hit Isaac back, as kids were wont to do. Instead he just held his hand against his eye and looked at Isaac, still puzzled. I quickly said a quick silent prayer thanking God that Kevin wasn't like the average kid who'd immediately hit back when hit, and hit harder!!! Oh and did I mention that Kevin was almost a head taller than Isaac? This Isaac ah...

Again, once he managed to hit Kevin, Isaac calmed down. I was getting quite upset at this coz it's going to be a problem if Isaac continues to hit his classmates in school :( I wonder where did my mild-mannered Isaac go? sigh!!!
Then it occurred to me that maybe Isaac needs to learn "anger management" skills. Think I read about it somewhere before - except it was for adults, and not 2 and a half year olds. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth trying. So I told Isaac "Isaac, you cannot hit people. When you are angry, I want you to go and hit that box."

Then I dragged him to the innermost corner of the classroom where there was this cloth box (the one Teacher Lina is sitting on in the picture below). "Come, hit the box!" I said. "If you're angry, hit the box! Don't hit your friends! Cannot hit your friends! Cannot hit anyone! Hit the box, hit the box!" Isaac looked at me, and nodded that he'd "Hit the box!" if he wanted to hit someone.

End of Episode: He Touched My Bottle!
Above, from Left to Right: Isaac, Kevin, Marcel, Jiaying (Macy hidden behind Jiaying in this picture), Xin Rui, Teacher Lina and Qiu Yi on the floor.

DAY THREE

Episode: I Say Sorry to Macy!

So the whole night on Day Two, and in the morning of Day Three, Isaac would remember the "Hit the box!". I would tell him "Isaac, cannot hit anyone okay?" and he would say "Hit the box!" And I'd say "Yes, that's right! Hit the box!" Sometimes, he would be quiet and we weren't even saying anything, and out of the blue, he'd say "Mummy, hit the box!" so I know this was on his mind, and he remembered what I had told him to do.

So the kids were playing with these plastic muffins you see (above and below). The muffins could be taken apart, and needed matching as they had different signs on them like plus sign, minus sign, star, etc. All 6 in the tray were different. And so it came to be, that Macy (below) was holding the very 2 muffins that Isaac MUST have. Oh, and it was the same very 2 muffins that Macy had to have too... so.... snatching begins.
Though I must say it was all very civilised. Macy takes the 2 muffins. Isaac says "I want!". Macy quickly holds the muffins behind her back, away from Isaac. Isaac reaches behind her back to want to snatch it away. I go "No, Isaac, share... wait for your turn...". Teacher Lina goes "Macy, do you want to let Isaac play with the muffins first?" Isaac goes "I want! I want!!!" I go "Down here got 4 more, you play with these!" yadda yadda yadda.

Suddenly Macy holds them out, and says she wants to put them back in the muffin tray. I hold Isaac's hands from snatching them, until Macy places them back in the tray. Isaac, quick as Lightning McQueen, snatched the muffins out of the tray. Macy looks on in a blur.

THEN Isaac reaches over and hits Macy on her head!!! Teacher Lina and I were right there but it happened so fast that it was over before either of us realised what was happening! And with no warning too! Afterall, Isaac had gotten the muffins already, and he wasn't even throwing a tantrum at the time he hit Macy.
I was so embarrassed that I started scolding Isaac, and telling him to apologise to Macy, while apologising to Macy myself. "Isaac!!! Didn't I tell you to beat the box!? Why you beat Macy?!" I quickly dragged him into the classroom to where the box was, giving him a talking to as I demonstrated how he could hit the box, and repeated time and again how he shouldn't be hitting anyone at all!

Finally, he agreed that he should apologise to Macy. So we both went out of the classroom in search of Macy. Just as we exited the classroom, we saw Macy going into the toilet. I quickly held Isaac's hand and said "Let's wait till Macy comes out from the toilet before we apologise." But Isaac was insistent "No, no, I say sorry to Macy!".

With that, he shook off my hand, ran into the toilet to look for Macy. We came upon Macy on top of a toilet bowl (she's toilet trained), and Isaac loudly said 'Sorry Macy!" and looked at me for approval. I was trying hard not to laugh at how comical this situation was, and quickly said "Okay, good boy, you say sorry. Okay come let's go out." ;p

End of Episode: I Say Sorry to Macy!
Thankfully, there was only this incident on Day Three. The school only allowed me to be with Isaac there for 3 half days. But I heard from Teacher Lina, that on Day Four, Isaac hit another classmate from another class, coz the girl was very curious about his fingers, and was looking at them and fingering them (hehehe pun intended!). Apparently he got upset with her curious behaviour, and hit her. SIGH.
However, as of today, Isaac has been in school for 2 weeks, and since Day Four, he has not hit anyone. Teacher Foong Ling also tells me, that whenever snatching episodes start, when told not to snatch, Isaac would listen and stop snatching. So that's a relief. We certainly didn't want Isaac going around hitting people.
However, there was an incident today. Isaac got bitten! A classmate had bitten him on his chin! Apparently, they were cleaning up (keeping toys) together, and were snatching for something (Isaac says it was a ball), then this boy bit him. The teachers declined to name the other boy but Isaac knows the boy's name, so no guesses needed there.

Isaac showed me his bite when I went to fetch him, moaning "Pain, Mum, it is painful. Please kiss my chin." Raining kisses on his chin, I asked him who bit him and what were they doing - was it snatching or fighting... And he confessed that it was snatching... a ball...

I told hubbs about it and he burst out laughing as well. We're both kinda amused by it as we know it's part and parcel of school life, to have falls and bites and all... I think we'd have been more horrified if it was Isaac who went around biting people :p
pix above taken on 18th March 2010
Isaac @ 2 years 8 months

Overall, I'm very pleased with this childcare place we found for Isaac. As I am going back to work come 1st April (which is very very soon!!!) I'm glad to know that Isaac is gainfully occupied in school. I can tell that he enjoys it as well, coz even though he moans every morning about not wanting to go to school, every evening when I pick him up, he says he had a fun time in school and wants to go school the next day. The teachers and students are all very nice as well.

As everyone says, kids adjust very fast. Think it's the adults that take time. Oh, did I mention? On Day Four, when I dropped Isaac off, he was crying and crying when I left... and so was I as I was putting on my shoes and leaving the place! Sob sob! What a softie I am :p I couldn't help it! How does a mother walk away from her child who is crying for her? In tears!!! :p hahahaha...

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