The New Paper
Tuesday, Dec 30, 2014
It's back to school in five days' time. For some, it's starting out at the 'big school'. Judith Tan finds out from local actress May Phua how she prepares and copes with this rite of passage.
MAY PHUA, 38, Actress
She was one anxious mum when it came to preparing her elder son for his first year in primary school. Which explains why at the start of each year, memories of that time come flooding back.
Phua chalked up more than 40 volunteer-hours just to ensure that Ong Ix Shang, nine, would be able to get into Henry Park Primary, which is near their home. He will be in Primary 4 next year.
This was also because Shang had some health issues.
Phua says: "Should anything happen, we'd be able to get to Shang quickly. "He was quite a sickly child. It's rare for a baby boy to get urinary tract infection but he did, and it affected one of his kidneys. "So we get particularly kancheong (Cantonese for anxious) over him."
She laughs as she recounts her experience preparing him for the first day. She took care of all purchases, from schoolbooks to stationery and schoolbag.
But the self-confessed "blur mum" ended up buying Shang's uniform three sizes too big.
Phua says: "I didn't know what sizes my boys wear. So, when the woman selling the uniforms said the bigger the better, I took her word.
"I realised how big the uniforms were only when my maid pointed out that Shang's shirt was so much larger than my own blouses.
"Thank God his grandmother could sew and she managed to sew elastic bands on the pants so they wouldn't drop off."
The good news: Shang will be wearing the same uniforms to school this Friday. Phua also admits that she spent the first week at the school, peering through the classroom windows to check on Shang.
"His father pretended everything was fine, yet returned secretly at every lunch period that week to record the boy buying his own food.
"It was also to assure everyone that Shang could take care of himself."
Phua says she is confident that her younger boy Keyan, five, will be able to take care of himself when he goes to primary school in 2016.