When I was 9 years old, my parents decided to have me moved onto first year of secondary school.
This would mean me skipping Primary 5 . This was before the “Primary 6” system was instituted. it would be happening the year after I leave, interestingly enough .
I was excited (my parents would have been talented sales personnel). The idea of a secondary school was a “big girl” one, and I was eager to leave all my childish things behind. My Mom gave me the choice of either boarding (living on school grounds) or being a day student (not doing so), and even though the latter was the familiar option, I chose to board.
I chose boarding school, people.. Like, who does that??
My Mom was surprised, but she went along with it. I wrote the exams and passed (like a boss!). My school supplies were bought, and I began to pack up for school (it was an all-girls one, by the way). Relatives came by to hug and tease and give me advice on how “different” the new environment would be, my naive self didn’t take them seriously… Guys, you know how primary school is? is anyone ever prepared for boarding school??
The night before my first day at school, I was up talking with my Mom and senior sis. We were tidying up the little things that make packing annoying. My Mom was also telling me i could opt out of boarding, while my sister was holding a laugh and telling her not to convince me out of my earlier decision. I couldn’t be shaken. All I could think of was that all of the provisions would be mine and mine alone?!
I really couldn’t take a hint.
My intermediate senior sister was in the school to which I had applied, and then our relationship was more like the benevolent tolerance bestowed upon a younger sister. I had no trouble with this, because my Mom had instructed her to look after me, which translated to “new official caretaker” in my head.
In school, she took me over everything, like once, and that was it (but she was there when I needed her to be. “Needed” being the operative word).
The day arrived, nice and bright. The hours passed by fairly quick, and soon enough I was at the premises. Parents weren’t allowed into the actual hostels, so packing included short breaks of coming to the hostel gate to ask my Mom tips and where is that again? This wasn’t easy, because a good number of eager parents were at the gate too. It was like a self-help conference, with tips, tricks and how-to’s being shouted everywhere.
A few hours later, the parents were ushered into the Parents’ Teacher Meeting, and we were left to our devices. I wasn’t a social person, so I stayed by myself. Owk, the meeting finished and the parents were allowed to say goodbye before leaving. So, I hugged my Mom and she hugged me tighter, and… “I won’t miss a visiting day, Eno-Pepe” (my people call me that, don’t ask).
I nodded and walked with her out to where she had packed the car. Parents had been told that we, the students, wouldn’t be allowed near the main school gate at closing time, much less out of it (the school sucked major b***, people). I didn’t know this however, so with the gate closing in, Mom turns and says, “Eno, you have to go back”
I was confused, “What do you mean? I’m going home with you”
Mom understands then, “Eno, this is what I meant. This is what we discussed. You would have to stay here”
boom! the dams break then… tears everywhere, “What do you mean? Mummy, I don’t want to stay here…. Don’t leave me here..”
She hugged me again, but had to leave. School officials had come by and were ushering parents away. But wow, I was shocked. My entire tiny world upturned. I hadn’t had to be away from my parents before, so yeah, it seemed like the end of the world to me.
My sister was pleasantly amused, if slightly sympathetic.
The entire evening, during Night Prep, which was basically Social Evening for the first years; I spent replaying the scene of Mom walking away from me to the soundtrack of Titanic, while I was seated at a corner of the class (plus, tears of course).
Now, I can laugh at how ridiculous i had been…. If there’s a lesson here, it’s : Read the fine print of every agreement.
(ps, would be writing more of pre-teen Eno and her missassumptions,
maybe. This just seemed like a good outlet)