Thursday, September 29, 2016

big day

Today marks the culmination of Day’s entire primary school career, when his performance over four days will determine the course of the rest of his life (it's English today). Or, it’s just another exam.

* This morning

I haven’t written about Day’s exam preparation because there isn’t much to write.

For me, the point of greatest worry was somewhere around the first half of this year, when there was still time and space to Do Something in response to dire CA1 results. And the breaking point within that point (again, for me, not for Day) was when I saw what he got for one of his mock Chinese papers a few months ago and tears filled my eyes (out of depair, mind you, not exhilaration). Day saw, hugged me very tightly and assured me he’d try harder (no he didn’t cry!).

As with my usual style when it comes to the kids (perhaps not the greatest), I accept what they are and what they want.

The time since the June holidays has been peaceful for me, as I, as usual, leave Day to his schoolwork and do some slow, daily revision with him. Slow meaning we take our time, there’s no particular study schedule or goal to finish this or that. All the assessment books and whatnot are half-done. On my part, there’s a kind of stoic acceptance, that traditionally (according to a teacher), the score which kids get in the PSLE don’t veer off more than 5 marks up or down from what they get in the Prelims.

Day? He has been consistently obedient but not self-driven. He does his homework, if he has his phone or laptop, he’d go on it right after, and if I take the screens away, the next thing he’ll do is to find some games to play with his sisters or draw or read a book. When I ask him to study, he will, but only when I ask him to. Sometimes, he goes to the library with his friends after school to study.

If he feels any stress, it would be from how everyone expects more from him. Well-meaning teachers who give him knowing looks when they talk about careless mistakes or how some in the class definitely have the potential to do better, friends who tell him "I thought you were better than that?" when he talks about going to a particular neighbourhood school, and from his own parents. We do, keep telling him he can do better, if he works harder.

But if I had hoped the PSLE would be an exercise through which he appreciates the value of hard work, it hasn’t worked. He regards the PSLE with a massive sigh, as an irksome duty which he doesn’t quite care about, as a demonstration of why Singapore sucks. He once said, to my fury, "I can do better but I don't want to." He also seems to have adopted my attitude of acceptance as he seems quite happy with the prospect of going to lesser schools. I hate using the word lesser, but you know what I mean.

I also remember the ideals I had from years ago, when I thought to myself that I wanted my child to enjoy learning, and that the sense of joy would power him through the PSLE. Hmmm. Nice ideal.

He goes in today with a hug, a kiss, a ham sandwich and hot Milo in his tummy. He has a jacket in his bag because the air-conditioning in the classroom is really cold and he's right smack in the draft. He also goes in sick. He’s down with a cold and sore throat.

* Sick, yesterday

Here he is, sounding slightly croaky, in a pre-exam interview.

* Famous last words: "I feel great, that, it's finally boiled down to this. But I also hope that I can do my best. I just wanna say that PSLE ... will be easy."


Hui Ming said...

All the best David! I believe there is a school for everyone regardless of the score. This is what I have been telling my child. Yes, we aim high. But do not be afraid if we fall, because there is a school for everyone and this is certainly not the end.

Angelyn said...

I agree and really like your parenting style. We should let our kids enjoy their childhood and not put too much emphasis on exams and results. We are not defined by our grades.

Sher said...

we all want to be the best parent we can be to each child.

my style, i have learnt by now, is consistently bo chup. i cant change and i dont know if anyone should like it, but its certainly me. but i keep wondering if my style suits day.

for all that is said about how grades dont matter, we are not defined by our grades etc, it is scary to embrace that without knowing what will happen to our kids in future. its like stepping of a precipice.

wat if without pushing and more active parenting, my child becomes someone who has to depend on me in future? or perhaps my child cld be that much more confident if i had given him that push to excel at the start?

its a question that keeps coming up, and there'll be no answers until they grow up... parenting is scary!

Anonymous said...

Yes parenting is scary. I have only 1 child so it is really by trial and error. My husband says I am pushy. I expect my child to always tries her best. If she does not do so well in assessments because of poor preparation, I will scold her. If I know that she has spent enough time preparing but the paper was difficult, I will let it go. The world out there is very competitive. I hope she will be well equip to do the work that she wants to in future, and she will not end up with a job she does not enjoy because she has no choice but to do it.


Sher said...

haiwei! hello!!!

yes the least we can expect is that they try their best, right? i'm just not convinced sometimes that day is trying his best... tts wats frustrating.

agree with u tt world is competitive, and the strategy shldnt be to always come last and say - never mind its OK i accept it because i wanted to enjoy my childhood. sigh.