2 November 2016, by Mandy Loh
Dear Future Me of 2021,
Hello, it’s Me from 2016! By the time you read this, both Cristan and Caris would already be in Primary school! While I really cannot imagine what life would be like 5 years from now, I wanted to write this letter to remind you of the time when they were still in preschool, and things were simpler.
Future Me, I sincerely hope that you have not succumbed to the notorious pressures of the Singapore Education System and turned into a Tiger Mom. Remember that in 2016, all you wanted was for your kiddos to enjoy a carefree and happy childhood, and to be kind and loving.
Yet perhaps we can consider 2016 to be the pivotal year of change, as we reluctantly transferred the munchkins from a play-based preschool to one that was more aligned to the “local school system” (ie more focused on academic learning), so that Cristan would have an easier transition into Primary school.
Just barely two months into the new preschool, poor Cristan has had to get used to weekly spelling tests for BOTH English and Chinese. Which has meant daily 15-minute lessons at home to practise the words that will be tested each week.
Future Me, I want to remind you that in 2016, we tried to keep the focus away from scoring perfect marks at the spelling tests, and instead praise Cristan for his efforts in learning, his really cute and neat handwriting, and for his super memory power.
Remember that we made a promise to ourselves not to stress our children out, and to let our kids know that academic achievement is not the be all and end all of life.
Remember that we consciously decided not to load our kids’ schedules with enrichment classes, so that they would have the time and freedom to play…
go on random outings on weekends…
or even be bored because boredom sparks creativity!
Perhaps I am living in an idealised bubble now, in 2016, unaware of just how treacherous and unforgiving the education system can be. Perhaps you, being older and wiser, are shaking your head and laughing at my naivete as you read this. But I desperately want to hold on to the hope that our children, and Me as a parent, will not be overwhelmed by the system.
Future Me, I’d like to remind you of Jack Ma’s advice to his son. The founder of Alibaba Group told his son that there was no need for him to be top of the class. Being in the middle was fine, because he would then have enough free time to pursue his interests and learn other skills.
The Me in 2016 wants to believe that parents can choose not to get sucked into the academic rat race, that we can shield our kids from the crazy and unhealthy stress levels, and not be forced to contribute to the billion-dollar tuition industry in Singapore.
The Me in 2016 believes that we have the ability to define success on our own terms. Future Me, I sincerely hope that all this still holds true in 2021!
With lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Me from 2016