Thursday, November 24, 2016

at peace

Something very strange happened today after Day collected his results.

He jumped, skipped and danced for joy all day, like all the worries of the world had slid off his shoulders. He blithely conversed with KK about life (most times he avoids conversations with what he deems is his overly-stern and critical father) and went to bed with a hint of a smile on his face. It was such unusual behavior that KK the Immovable found cause to remark on it.

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There were no frowns today. Well, there haven’t been any frowns since the exams finished, but today there was joy and ecstasy. He reminded me of his pre-school self, the cheerful little fellow who flashed his dimples all the time.

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* Post-result lunch treat at Day's choice of restaurant, er, Mos Burger

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* Post-result dinner treat at Day's favourite Jap restaurant, er, Megumi

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* Post-result post-dinner ice-cream treat at Udders

Don’t for one moment think that the result was miraculous. No. It was actually on the dot, almost exactly what we expected, just one point off from his Prelim result and some distance off from that long-ago bet KK made with him.

In the intense atmosphere of the school hall where anxious parents were seated on chairs, behind the 12-year-olds who were lined up according to their classes, Day returned to us with his stack of unopened certificates and envelopes. He uncovered the score in front of Jo, Lu and me and while he didn’t say anything, his face read: Huh? That’s it?

Jo grabbed the cert and said, “Huh? So bad?” while Lu, after taking a look herself, sighed, “I was hoping Gor Gor would get 271.”

Around us, tears flowed. Not a lot, but each instance was furtively tracked by other parents (like me) who can’t quite help noticing. The girl who wiped away her tears as she strode out of the hall with her stone-faced parents behind her, a pudgy bespectacled former friend of Day who hugged his friends and cried as his mother behind him surreptitiously gave me a thumbs down signal, and the mother of the second-highest scorer in school (kaypoh mums know these things) who very subtly gave her son a smile and a pat on the back when he nonchalantly whispered his result to her.

Day went back to his friends. Scores were audibly exchanged by some, while the heart-broken ones refused to share and simply disappeared.

But for Day, the boy whose Whatsapp identifier is "Studying = Students + Dying", it looks to me as if his nightmare has ended. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, because I really don’t think he would have cared either way, but that it’s ended.

To all the possible school choices – actually he’s probably only eligible for the affiliated school now – he doesn’t care. All boys? Co-ed? In the East? In other parts of Singapore? Secular? Religious? To all, he says, “I don’t mind”. Which makes the selection part terribly difficult indeed. I had assumed that by age 12 they will know what they want and work for it, but Day tells me, “Tell me”. (No he can't get his toe into that school)

Aiyah.

5 comments:

Hui Ming said...

congratulations! it is a milestone achieved for him!!

Hui Ming

Ling Dawn said...

Don't understand why parents make psle such a big deal. I have already prepared Caleb and Danielle for psle and told them to treat it like a test and u will do fine. Ha

Sher said...

thanks huiming!

the best laid intentions go awry when teachers, peers and everyone else around them says differently. influences outside of home, i have found, are powerful.

when i look upon women who are my friends fret and lose sleep and get nightmares about their children's results, i feel almost callous and insensitive for being so dismissive of their concerns.

and i'm certain that when day looks upon boys and girls who have become his close friends cry over a result, he would be hard-pressed to convince himself its just a test. when teachers tell him he's not catching up with his peers, he'll find it very hard to believe that he'll do fine.

nobody but his mother ever told him that its just a test. in the end, i think he thinks that his mother is deluded. and i'm afraid he wishes we had pushed him harder.

rachel said...

hey, am a little late, but am glad that day did as well as you expected him to.

at the end of the day, external influences may be strong, but i believe that parents play a much bigger role than we think. i see this in my students - i can tell them until i am blue in the face that they are ok, but i know from the look in their eyes that their parents' incessant comments over the 18 years have a much bigger sway about their sense of worth. some eventually grow and learn to be their own person, but there are also those who are forever stunted by parental expectations.

it will be a while, but i think day will come to appreciate what you are doing for him. hang in there!

congrats to day on reaching a milestone and going through the rite of passage. now for the exciting phase - teenagehood! :P

Sher said...

thanks rachel!