Monday, 30 November 2015

Mother Forgets

Last Wednesday was PSLE Results Release Day.

Ever since I experienced The Day first-hand as a parent three years ago, I always feel very emotional when I see children going up the stage for different reasons. You can be sure my eyes are never dry on this day.

I remember feeling 'meh' when I read on my Facebook that some P6 students were asking if anyone was going to receive the results with their parents.

I thought,"It's just some exam results. What's the big deal? You are not Primary One kid, you know?"

However, when it came my turn, it seemed all-important that I had to go with Coco.

I even taunted William when he expressed disinterest in following us,"We may go jump off a building together after getting the results!"

There are things that you won't understand or won't do until you are a parent.

So, when the students were led to their classrooms to receive their results, I asked a colleague whose daughter went to a top girls' school,"Did you cry when you got your daughter's results?"

She looked a little surprised,"No. I didn't go to school with her."

I was even more surprised,"Why didn't you? Surely your husband was there with her?"

She replied,"He wasn't, either!" after which she reflected a little and said,"I never saw myself as a parent. I always see myself as a teacher. My students are here, so I have to be here. It never occurred to me that I could apply for leave or time-off to go get the results with my daughter."

I don't know if I had crossed the line, but the colleague felt quite guilty over the matter, and did some reflection over her relationship with her only daughter who has gone overseas for further studies that day. The next day, she came to me and told me she apologised to her daughter for not accompanying her to receive her PSLE results and the times when her daughter had experienced loneliness in her life because she was not there with her.

Another colleague tried to assuage the mother-colleague's guilt by assuring her that not all parents accompany their children to receive their results, citing herself as an example, but I felt it was a weak attempt as they would belong to two different generations of daughters.

This little talk between my colleague and me makes me think about how teachers often neglect their children because of the demands of their jobs.

I used to be a guilty mother when Coco was younger. I forgot about the need to get Teachers' Day presents for her teacher when she was in Nursery and a few deadlines from her schools. I could never be a parent volunteer much as she would like me to. Now I try to be more mother-conscious about the girls' stuff nowadays but it's not always possible to remember or do what stay-home mothers could about their children's matters.

Recently, I have applied for leave for next year to focus more on Baby and Coco. I have quoted my health as the main reason. The boss is very displeased about it. In fact, it is not approved yet. I hope I get it though. I am not sure what the next step is if she does not approve it.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Another Hospital Stay

My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with friends who have gone on holidays. One went to Taiwan, another is in Europe, and yet another - a teacher, is in Spain.

As for my colleagues and I, we are not to leave State till next Tuesday evening.

Life's unfair like that.

The last week was an eight-to-five work week, the kind that requires your presence even when nothing is going to be done.

And my father was admitted to the hospital. If I had visited him at the hospital, you can be sure that I would collapse onto the bed by the time I reached home. It was good for a dieting woman who got to skip dinner without too much effort though.

I first received an sms from my brother saying that my father had insisted on going to a Malaysian hospital when I was at work a fortnight ago.

The bags were packed and his passport was already in his pocket.

I called back and persuaded my father to remain in Singapore. It does not take a genius to know that I had no faith in a Malaysian hospital, much less in one that would not know what my father had gone through the previous year.

I had once visited a cousin at a Malaysian hospital and was appalled at the state of it. My cousin's arm was slashed by a love rival in the city area, or so I heard, and was transferred to a government hospital soon after he was admitted to a hospital. His rusty bed was among at least ten or twenty other beds in a huge hall. Some nurses were doing their stuff at the other end of the hall. A few fabric windscreens existed to shield the view from others when they needed to examine a patient. It reminded me of the 1950s to 1970s medical scenes I watched on Channel 8 drama serials. I was shocked that Malaysia was still so backward in their medical advancements.

I managed to persuade my father to visit the GP (General Practitioner) we just visited the day before to get a doctor's letter before setting off for the General Hospital.

My father had been complaining about general discomfort and weakness after his last major surgery and no doctor or physician or temple or church could help him. I had suggested that he do a full body check-up to find out the problem, thus the visit to the GP the previous day. The GP had proposed to get my father to have a full assessment at SGH since he also could not help my father but he needed some time to pen a letter of reference. But my father clearly could not wait anymore.

At the A&E Department, the doctor ran some tests on my father and diagnosed that he had 'dangerously low level of sodium' in his blood and suspected that he had lung infection so he was admitted to the hospital. A four-bedder room.

After 4 days, my father was worried that the bill might snowball over time since there was no sign that the doctor was going to discharge him, so he walked out of the ward and insisted on being discharged.

And he went home on a Friday.

On Sunday, he woke up with a swollen mouth and neck. His tongue was so swollen that he could not even eat! So back to the hospital he did.

Infection of the floor of the mouth, the doctor said.

This time, my father requested us to put him in a C class ward so that he did not have to worry about the bill. 

And by then, that a $200k medical bill was a reality had stuck in our mind. We signed him up for the nine-bedder ward.

So my father stayed in the hospital for another week. In the course of the week, the doctor diagnosed that he also had SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), an autoimmune disease which was very rare for an elderly. But it explains why none of our parents have Hyperthyroidism, another autoimmune condition, but at least three of us do.

The good news is: he was discharged yesterday :)

Another good news is: my biopsy report states that my nodule is benign, meaning not cancerous or malignant. However, that was within expectations. I had read up online and the articles concurred that nodules with thyroid problems are usually non-cancerous.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

After Meet-the-Parent

I feel shameless as a mother. 

I have not taught Baby this year, at least not conscientiously.

I stopped her Math enrichment in the first half of the year when she didn't feel like going.

I stopped her Chinese enrichment in the first half of the year when she vehemently refused to go for lessons.

If you ask me what I have taught her, I can only tell you I have got her to rewrite the Chinese characters at the back of the Chinese textbook and got her to complete a few Math papers.

What have I done with her for English? The only thing I did with her was going to the library with her and reading to her, sometimes.

I have not made her do an English paper, or got her to write a composition - because she didn't want to write.

I have wanted her to enjoy her first year of formal schooling, and I wanted to see how she does without external intervention. I wanted to see if she would do well 'naturally' with just her teacher teaching her.

But when the form teacher gave out the 5 invitation cards for the top performers in class, I actually felt disappointed, shamelessly disappointed.

I knew without parental support, it's almost impossible for a child to be among the top 5 performers in class in this school, but yet, I felt disappointed.

When I came home, I felt bothered. I couldn't sleep. I kept playing my Bejeweled Blitz because I couldn't make peace with myself.

Then I decided to exit the bedroom to watch some TV. I saw her report book on the dining table and flipped it open. And I realised Baby didn't do that bad after all.

You see, the school has printed the result slip such that her Overall results are shown first while her CA2 and SA2 come after that! I had zoomed into the last page because usually that is the page that matters most since it almost always indicates the 'final' score. However, for some reason, this time, I looked at her Overall Percentage and realised that she actually comes very close to the top 5th. The form teacher had revealed to the last few remaining parents that the top 3 performers had at least 92%. I would gather 90.7% wasn't too shabby a score - a score that's without much help.

I actually felt a lot better when I figured that out. I had felt lousy after going to the Meet-the-Parent briefing in which the form teacher met the parents as a class. One of the parents spoke to me and mentioned that her child had 85 for English. I had thought Baby had done really badly as generally the class did badly for their SA2 English because of the sudden increase of weightage for the writing component which they were not adequately prepared for.

When I examined the Overall scores closely, I realised Baby had done better than some of those children who had gone for enrichment classes throughout the year. 

I feel strangely relieved but still feel guilty that I had not helped Baby. 

I realise that as long as my children are studying in a Singapore school, I will not be able to detach grades from their studies, no matter how much I hope they can enjoy their childhood. I am not an enlightened parent who is able to ignore grades as long as my children enjoy learning. I had thought that since I am a 'seasoned' parent, I would not mind when my child is not one of the top 5 performers. 

I am a Singapore mother after all.