Pristine graduates from Primary School

Pristine grad pic

Just like that another school year ends for us. And our oldest child graduated from primary school.

I have so many friends the same age as I do who has either just given birth, still breastfeeding babies or has toddlers. I, however has a child who just graduated from primary school and about to enter Middle School. Cue feelings of being ancient. I will be 39 this year so it’s not like I married really early but still when Pristine’s school sent me information about the coming graduation ceremony, it got me thinking: how did we get here?

Related read: Primary school in Dubai (what’s it like)

She was only 3 when we moved to Dubai from Japan. I still remember when she could only converse in Nihongo and it was so funny because as a very bubbly toddler straight out from Japan’s daycare center, she thought Nihongo was the universal language and everyone could speak it. Her teacher would tell me, “Pristine seems to have so many interesting things to say (judging from her flailing arms and hands while she talks) but I can’t understand the language she’s using!”

Pristine in 2007

The above photo was Pristine and me in 2007 during her first few days at the new school in Dubai. After a few days and weeks, she began to pick up English (and Arabic and French) and as they say, the rest is history.

best in english

Here is Pristine holding her award, Excellence in English during this year’s awards ceremony. Since the school started giving out awards, we have been called every year to attend and be surprised since they don’t tell us what the award is. We’re proud of her achievements in school.

As much as I am excited about my oldest going to middle school soon, I am a little bit anxious. (Yep, because anxiety is truly my middle name) Pristine is entering into a new phase in her life. Well, not just her but all of us. Probably a new school (we are in the process of applying to other schools), new friends, more challenging lessons in school.

Teenage years.

Puberty. Crushes.


I have a lot to say to my daughter on her graduation from primary school. But I was too lost for words (more like I found myself swimming in nostalgia of the years that’s gone by) and was only able to manage a few: I reminded her how proud we are of her, that there’s a bright future ahead with unlimited possibilities. As long as we live, she will always be safe, will always be protected, and will always be loved.

Now, we have at least of 8 weeks until the new school year starts. Pristine loves school so much that her dislike of summer vacation landed us on the national paper. We’re spending four week outside the UAE soon though so at least it’s half the misery.

To my sister, well done on your graduation!


Photo credit

My sister, youngest of six will be graduating from university today. Alongside my parents, I feel so proud. Was it just yesterday when I held her for the first time when she and mom came home from the hospital? Wasn’t I the happiest when mom finally brought home a pink bundle after four blue ones?

My sister Ariane is 21 now but we’ve only been together during the first 7 years of her life. The rest was spent on long distance calls, handwritten letters, emails and later on chats, video cams and brief meetings once a year or so. We have spent too much time apart that sometimes I feel I do not know her at all. I’d go back home once a year to see my sister changing, growing up and developing a personality so different than mine. We’ve had petty arguments, patch things up again only to argue again. I can’t count the number of times I’ve shook my head in disbelief of the things that happened between us.Ariane

But deep inside, I still love her just the same.

Growing up in a brood of five (me then 4 brothers after me), I’ve always wanted a sister. I only got one when I turned 13 and didn’t really ‘need’ a sister anymore. I was not into playing Barbies or braiding hairs in high school. When Ariane was 3 and started inviting me to do girly stuffs, I was starting college. When she turned 7 and finally needed a sister not just for play but for company, comfort and girly cuddles, I left for Japan to study.

My parents would regularly send cassette tapes with recordings of my siblings’ voice while I was in Japan. Those cassette tapes were my line to sanity, especially during winter time when everything just seems so dull and lonely. I would play it over and over until I sleep. Ariane who dominates most of the cassette time, had a shrilly, kiddie voice like Pristine now. Heck, every time Pristine speaks now, I am always reminded of that little sister I had before so far away, calling out my name and singing me songs. I missed that girl and that girl has grown up to be a woman without me by her side.

All these years I have spent wondering why we’d have arguments when we rarely see each other or why she’s like a perennial teeenager who sometimes gets so stubborn, strong willed and defiant. But it must be her way of coping with growing up with 4 boys in the house, it was her own way of standing out in the crowd, to make herself heard. Or is it her way of showing resentment for all my years of absence?

Partly, maybe, yes.

Today I wish I was there as she marches down the stage in her graduation robe to show her how proud I am of her for completing school. But with this post, I apologize for being an absentee sister again.

Soon she’ll be living near me as she starts that journey into the ‘real world’. While I can’t promise to be the coolest sister, I will try hard to make up for the lost time we had.