- "Did you have a good day?" I asked.
- "Yeah!" he said.
So I left him to his own devices. After all, there is so much to do at this stage of my life that I can't be ever watchful... ever vigilant... and ever ready. For efficiency and effectiveness, one learns to swoop in for a close look, and then swoop out when nothing seems the matter. And for sure, nothing seemed the matter when I checked on Little Boy at noon.
So I went and did other pressing stuff.
Over the course of the afternoon, Little Boy remarked about 3 times that he had never been so worried about exams before. The remarks brushed at the corners of my consciousness as I went about busy with other stuff. After all, in the week just before exams, Little Boy is not allowed to study. The rule is meant to ensure that he has enough rest and relaxation to be in top form for exams. So, "hmmmmm" was all I said.
Then as I prepared for bed, Little Boy came upstairs to insist "When you're done, please come and get me. I need you to cuddle me to sleep." And I said "hmmmmmm" again.
Then I forgot. Oh bad bad mother!!
Anyway, Little Boy found his way back into his old spot between Daddy and Mommy... a humongous piglet wiggling and snuffling... until all we could see were 2 eyes peeking out from under the quilt. He was a bit upset that I hadn't gone to get him, but I guess the important thing was that he was where he wanted to be - in that warm safe place between his Mommy and his Daddy.
And then it all came out. Teacher had given some Math worksheets to do which Little Boy couldn't do, and it was already the day before the Math exam. And before long, as Little Boy tossed and turned and wiggled into his Mommy's comforting embrace, he started to wail "I've neeeeeever not known *sniffle* how to do her worksheets befooooooooooooore" (which really isn't true). If such questions come *sob* out *sob sob* tomorrow, I will not do weeeeeeeeell". And then the tears came in huge drops.
Now he got my attention.... and his father's too.
We sat there and assured him that EVEN IF there were questions he didn't know how to do, then that's just too bad... that his job is to ensure that he obtained full marks for the questions he COULD do. And that if he gave in to his fear, he would certainly perform less well than he was truly able...
You know, it's really painful to see our little children experience the kind of stress that they should not experience until they're adult. And such stress is experienced even when the child is amply prepared and reasonably confident. It's a good thing for Little Boy that I am not a parent who will cane when results are poor... and that I am there (well sort of) when he needs to confide in someone.
What about the intelligent children who don't have such emotional support at home? What about those whose parents yell and scream? What about those whose parents work till late? What about those whose parents pay all they can afford for Tutors who teach the material, but fail to realise that knowing the material is only half what it takes to make it?
How do those little ones cope?
The Singapore Education system has become one wherein reasonable intelligence is no longer enough to get by. One needs access to high quality family support too. Our educational system has become a test of family unity and love, more than a test of student ability.