The school started last Monday (July 16th) after a three-weeks holiday, gradually getting the kids used to their regular schedule again by conducting a half-day school (out by 12.00) and less-hour days (out by 14.00 compared to the usual 16.00). Our kids could only attend the first two days (Monday and Tuesday) and had to skip the rest of the weekdays because we had to make a trip to Singapore (to acquire their staying permits – but that’s another story).
Anyway, of course we got curious about their first few hours at school. Lindri seemed to be doing good in her Preschool class (TK A), with 10 old and new classmates. Dhanu is now in the 2nd grade with the same classmates, plus one new boy, which amount to 9 students altogether. However, the stories he brought home from his first couple of days were a bit unnerving.
Inggar, a classmate, said to Dhanu that he’s afraid of the Dutch because they kill Indonesian people. Dhanu said it’s not true, maybe in a movie but not real. They went to the class teacher, Bu Lia, for confirmation. Bu Lia said that happened but a long time ago, and now the Dutch people are nice and we are friends and The Netherlands is a nice country. The students didn’t take it easily and Dhanu spent his day being pointed as ‘a killer’. Dhanu came home with this question to his father, Do Dutch people kill Indonesians?
Syb said it used to happen during the war, very long ago, but not anymore now. Dhanu insisted that it’s not a fact and that it only happens in movies.
Dhanu found a leaf with insect eggs on it. He showed it to his friends, saying that a hundred years ago a caterpillar laid these eggs and soon they will hatch and baby caterpillars will emerge. His friends said that he’s being ridiculous; it can't be from one hundred years ago. Juan, a classmate, pried the leaf from Dhanu’s hand and threw it away, then he kicked Dhanu for being ridiculous.
On Tuesday, his class was out playing football. The teacher told Dhanu to be the goalkeeper and Axel the coach. Axel got upset and said, “There’s no such thing as a coach in a football game!” Dhanu said there is and Axel didn’t accept that. So they went to the teacher for confirmation. He said, there is indeed a coach in football and would Axel please act as one. Axel didn’t want to; he got angry and all so the teacher told Dhanu to be a coach and Axel the goalkeeper.
During the game, all his friends were pointing at him, saying that he knows nothing about football and that he’s a zero-year-old baby because he’s a coach. He said he didn’t like that but he couldn’t do anything.
On one hand, all these stories are Dhanu’s version. Not that we don’t trust him, but things might get distorted along the way. On the other hand, why would he make up stories like these. If all these are true, perhaps his classmates start picking up on him for whatever reason. But whatever it is, I think I should clarify and ask his class teacher about these incidents. Naturally, an instinct as a mother to protect her offsprings came to me, but I would also like to see him fend for himself and cope with his problems sensibly.
If it's any consolation: at least Dhanu goes to a school with the average of 10 students in a class, so things like these do not go unnoticed. And I hope he can cope well with these schoolyard problems and doesn’t turn reluctant to go to school.
Photo taken by Chica, Amsterdam, summer 2006