Dana and her mom are loving Lego time!
Hello, my name is Dana. I am 4 years old. My mom is from Russia and my dad is from Palestine. I live in Askar, a small village in Nablus. I started coming to TYO three months ago, and I come to class every Monday and Wednesday. My mom comes with me on the bus and she is supposed to leave me in class until I finish at 11:30. Then she picks me up and we go home by bus again.
When I first started, I cried hard when it was time to leave my mother. I did not like when she left the classroom and left me alone with other children and the new teacher and four volunteers. They were kind to me and tried to make me smile and play with other children and engage in the different activities, but I struggled. I couldn’t imagine being there alone away from my mama. We never leave each other. We are always together and we spend our time together at home - she cooks and I’m beside her, she visits her friends and I’m with her, she teaches sports in the gym and I also go with her. She never leaves me alone or with someone new. I am the one who never leaves her. Yes, I can’t leave her, you know why? Because I love my mom and can’t stay away from her.
My mom is an amazing woman. She has been through some challenges since she moved from Russia to Palestine, when she married my father. Her life has changed. She lives far away from her family. We still visit them, but Russia is not close to Palestine, so we have to wait a long time to go there. She is from a different culture. She also looks different than most people who live in Palestine because she is blond with blue eyes. I look like her, too
My mom didn’t have a lot of friends when she came to Palestine. She also didn’t speak Arabic well. She speaks Russian and she had to learn Arabic in order to communicate with people, especially when my dad leaves for work and she stays alone at home.
My mom loves me and my sister Sabrina so much. She gives us everything we want and tries to make us feel happy and comfortable. She also spends most of her time at home with us. She used to work as a sports instructor at one of Nablus’ gyms, but not anymore. My mom said it was hard for her to take me with her all the time to the gym whenever she had a class to teach. I understand why. I’ve been there and I have seen how huge those machines are. I was scared to get close to them. But what can I do? I can’t leave her there alone; I miss her if she stays away from me for a short time, how about an hour?
At TYO, I have fun - great fun. The teacher is nice and understanding and the classes are full of toys and great materials. There is even an imagination room! It’s full of beautiful costumes I can try out and pretend to be someone! There is also a sensory room where we can try different sounds and lights of different colors. I enjoy my time there, but I cry when my mom is not around. My mom stayed with me in class for 1 month. She volunteered in class like the other volunteers. I wouldn’t leave my mother even if she stayed in the same room and left her chair or grabbed something over the shelf. I would follow her and cry her name out loud and cry, “don’t leave me!” My mother was so stressed when she noticed how stressed I was, and how I would spend the whole day nervous thinking about her leaving me anytime during the day. My mom approached my teacher, Marah, and talked to her about my situation. She said I’m not used to being left alone with so many strangers and that I’m so attached to her. I need a longer time to adapt to the new situation and to the staff. My teacher and my mom agreed on letting my mother stay in class for longer periods. She volunteered to stay in class as a volunteer, not as a mother, in order to make the classroom environment smoother.
My teacher and mother also helped me by giving me a special volunteer all to myself. She always said hello to me at the door and played with me during class. I became so calm and active at the same time. I also became more engaged in activities and even more social. I made friends through the session and showed empathy towards them in many situations. After a few weeks, I could stay in class all by myself without my mom! My parents at home and my sister Sabrina are so happy and grateful to finally be able to leave me in a good mood and not have to worry about me while my mom is not available. We can’t wait to be back next session. We miss everyone already!