There are weekends in life that come and go. Then there are weekends or rather, one special weekend to be exact–that’s sandwiched in between all others, which all parents and children eagerly pray for to be over and where time seems to stand a tad too still–the PSLE weekend.
This is when deliverance seems near, when hope peeks around the corner, where light emanates and where Life awaits to be picked up where we left of.
Indeed, taming the PSLE beast has been harder than I thought. As a first-time mum walking my child through this weighty national exam, these are some of my thoughts:
First comes the slaying of expectations. This is a slow and arduous process , perfectly punishing for any typically eager Singaporean parent with a checklist of ideals waiting to be fulfilled and unleashed. The PSLE forces us to reexamine this checklist for what it’s really worth: it is the process of holding a mirror out to ourselves and to our children. It means asking honest questions of what we want to see in our children in the final analysis and the “costs” and “casualties” it might take to get there.
These reflections can brutally expose some of the values which we need to revisit and times where we may have let our fears and worries chase after us.
Ultimately for us, this is how we have chosen and it is the core of our children we must protect: it is their laughter and their spirits. Their eyes must light and their hearts must be free to dream. It is the carefree abandonment of childhood we must hold dear.
Second, the months leading to its (PSLE’s) culmination are intense. Akin to preparing for a military attack are the requisite arsenal of rigorous worksheets and assessments. Brain numbing drill and practice characterises most of it, together with the consistency of pacing (sometimes plodding) towards the finish.
It is also an intense mixed pot of feelings: some days feel good when we overcome roadblocks. Some days are worse, when we do not. Most days, are managing the multitude of emotions that come along with the ups and downs and then steering them back where they should be: quietly poised and positioned for what lies ahead.
Third, we are forced to choose our battles daily and wisely so. It is not the number of wars we win but how we approach them with dignity and honour. In this case, it is not the score that determines our worth but our perseverance and attitude that truly matter. Our children may not necessarily be ready to peak now. They will do so when they are ready. Life is not always a sprint.
Most significantly, it is our relationships with our children that are the GOLD and not our certificates and trophies. Not all can be winners but certainly none are losers and many are unsung heroes. Fear failure we shall not. It is wise to demonstrate in our actions and speech that failure is no impediment but a mere stepping stone to greater victories. It will never be the final death knell as long as you believe so.
Above all, we have to seize this opportunity to exemplify love and support to our children in a time when they most need it. Our patience and endearment are the real badges of honour that we must valiantly bear with pride. We must be so genuinely and unabashedly embracing of our children and who they have become in the process. This growth, this struggle is worth its value because of its refinement of character both in them and within ourselves.
These are our humble lessons from our journey. Hope it will encourage all parents and children to the finish.