10 March 2015, by Petrina Kow
There comes a time in every Singaporean mother’s life when she gets to test her strength and show her true colours. When she gets to quit her job, roll up her sleeves and plunge it straight into stacks of assessment books and yell out this battle cry.
This year, it’s my turn and I’m wearing it like a badge of honour. Well, not really. Quite honestly, I don’t see what the big fuss is. People give me this look when I tell them how old my daughter is. This ‘poor you, how stressed you must be’ look. And for those moms who’ve been through it, I get this ‘haha, it’s your turn’ gloat. Ok, not all my friends are like that, but it seems to be a huge deal in Singapore to reach this stage of your life.
For those of you still dealing with diapers and burping babies, this seems like a faraway concept. Something only old people get up to. Believe you me. I didn’t see this coming. This ‘12 year old child’ concept crept up on me like a devious prankster. Wasn’t I just feeding her mush and chasing her around the park? How did I get to training bras and mood swings? But it’s here and I have 7 months of ‘drilling’ and ‘focussing’ and ‘just do it’.
Well, to be honest, the academic part of the process was never a concern for me. It was more about managing emotions and expectations. I didn’t want this to be ‘The Year That Sucked’. I wanted it to be ‘The Year that I Discovered True Grit and Learnt How to Work Independently and Diligently and Grew into a Fine Young Woman’. Ok, I admit, that was wishful thinking on my part, but the year is NOT OVER! There is still time!
I still don’t get what all the fuss is over PSLE. I suppose it marks a point where you decide what secondary school you go to, and these days, there are so many options and paths that you can take and it seems like so much rests on what kind of school you get into.
There’s IB, IP, Os, As, Poly, JC, ITE, it’s as mind-boggling and confusing as deciding on your manicure at a nail salon. Shall I go for ‘Beige-ing’, ‘Grape Wall of China’ or ‘Silent Mauvie’? I don’t know…I just want red nails! Same for schools. I just want her to go to A SCHOOL. A school that will educate her, teach her valuable life skills, broaden her mind and mold her into a Fine Young Woman. Is that so hard? Don’t answer that.
It seems like some sick, masochistic game master is playing this cruel trick on us all, grouping and re-grouping kids in a horrible game of musical chairs. Thankfully, we have decided on a path quite early on, and right now, we are just working on getting through the moment. I think the stress really comes from parents who feel like they need to get their kids in some kind of prestigious school, and if their kids cannot make it, then they have committed the much dreaded four letter ‘F’ word. (FAIL lah…what were you thinking?)
For us, we are working on making 2015 another great year. Full of surprises, adventures, challenges and great moments. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the journey not the destination. It shouldn’t just be about collecting As for the report card. We should be working on populating it with all the socio-emotional qualities that range from A to F. Awareness, Beliefs, Courage, Diligence, Enlightenment and Fun! Sadly, with the amount of work she has to get through, it does seem a little more like Assessments, Boring, Chore, Doom, Exasperation, and Frustration! Whatever the case, just like all the others that have come before us and will come after, we will weather the storm, hopefully unscathed and emerge triumphant! (if not, I’m sure there will be another blog post titled, The Year I Completely Screwed up and Failed PSLE because My Mother Didn’t Send me for Tuition)