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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Run-Up to PSLE

We're done with PSLE Prelims. It has been a relatively muted affair for us thanks to the family policy of NOT studying during the exam period. It takes a lot more discipline to NOT study during PSLE prelims than at any other exam. I've been able to stop obsessing about Little Boy's PSLE by plunging myself into my business - Motivation Genome. Little Boy has been spending hours playing Wabble (i.e., online Scrabble). He has plunged into this game with great gusto, researching obscure 2 letter words that give you high scores... and equally obscure long words that don't sound like words. For example, I was advised yesterday that OXYPHENBUTAZONE is the highest scoring word in the game. Placed correctly, this gets you 1790 points.

Make that word happen and the game is over for your opponents.

Little Boy is also trying to teach himself html programming. Whatever that is, it has to do with creating webpages with lines of code. This is something that The Husband and Little Boy seem to contort themselves into ecstasy about, whenever they catch each other at it.

The result of all this extra-curricular activity is that Little Boy is reasonably relaxed for his PSLE prelims. The only hint of nerves seems to be his heavy insistence that I put him to bed at night. "Mom," said he, "I'm not on edge. I'm just somewhat nervous. It's easier to fall asleep when you're next to me."

To tell the truth, I am nervous too. A small ball of tears almost rose up through my chest to gush out from my eyes when Little Boy announced that he couldn't do the last 2 questions of his Math paper and he only half attempted 3 others. Little Boy knew no one in the top 2 classes who successfully solved the last 2 problem sums. The Teacher had consoled the children saying that it was a difficult exam and that the top 2 classes would still fare well relative to the other classes.As long as you are better than your friends, it's good. I wonder how those in the bottom classes feel now. Perhaps they're so used to not solving so many Math questions that they've stopped trying... stopped hoping... accepted that they're stupid.

The PSLE isn't a test of how ready you are for secondary school. It is a test of how much stupider one is than the smartest PSLE kid of that year. It's The Intellectual Gladiators' event of the year and the victims/stars are our 12 year olds. If you don't get what I mean, watch the movie The Highlander.

Oh well... I took the opportunity to engineer a psychological soft landing for Little Boy. He has worked so hard and so long for 19 months. If he does worse than what he expects, I would hate for him to conclude that he "is not one of the smart ones" again.

So I pointed to his Math prelim exam and told him "If you don't do as well as you wish, know this. It is not because you are stupid. It is because Mommy was not kiasu enough to pour money into Math Olympiad training for you from P2 onwards. It was because I was not kiasu enough to bring you all the way home to take part in GEP testing just so that you could stand a chance of benefiting from small class teaching of 25 students/class.

I could have pushed you above and beyond but I held you back because man shall not live by Math alone (and because I so hate having to compete tooth and nail... in our family, let's prize collaboration more than competition). If you don't do as well as you wish, it is also because you did not have access to the kind of knowledge and material provided by specialized enrichment centres. However you do at PSLE, you can be proud you did it on your own and even if you don't succeed there, you will have the character and the skills to succeed in life. As long as you stay confident in your own abilities."

I don't care how well he does at PSLE. I am already proud of my son


Blur Ting said...

I have said this and I will say this again. You're the best mom and he'll do well in life.

Petunia Lee said...

Ting - Best mom... hmmm... you're an angel calling a cherub white? Sigh... however Moms try, there always is a space for regret. A sense of... if I had done better, my child would be better. I can't wait for PSLE to be over. The Daughter's PSLE was so little stress compared to this.

Wen-ai said...

I'm proud of you and Little Boy too! Life is so much more than PSLE, and with your guidance and love, Little Boy will grow up to be a GREAT man.

Petunia Lee said...

Wen-Ai: Thank you!!

Malar said...

Sucha great mom! I bet your boy will pass with flying colours!