Years ago, my neighbour asked me while looking at my 5 year-old elder boy playing with chalks in front of our house, "Can he spell 'Apple'?"
"No" I replied, hesitating in my heart, heh, I thought I should let him play at this age?
"Well, my daughter could spell it for some time already!" she mocked in amazement. Her daughter was 6.
Goodness gracious! That prompted me to look for all kinds of ways to teach my boy to read. Heaven knows I'd tried ALL ways, I made him memorized the letters in the alphabet, pasted labels naming everything in the house, we sang nursery rhymes together etc. He just couldn't catch it! And the very expensive nursery/kindergarten we'd put him in didn't help much either.
Finally, I found a phonic programme and personally coached him and his younger brother for a year each. Thank God by the age of 7, both could read The Straits Times.
Then came the agony of Primary School. Goodness gracious again! The bulk of school work he had to cope with was unthinkable! It didn't help much when he fell ill frequently; often with headache and tummyache, signs of stress.
Through the years, we'd pumped in so much money, giving both our boys tuition in Chinese and Mathematics. My elder son pulled through his PSLE with an average score that managed to put him in the Express Stream in Secondary School.
My mom has a stroke when he was in Sec. 2. I couldn't at all concentrate on his studies anymore. He was frustrated with his Maths. He didn't like Science very much either. The only delight that motivated him through the drudgery of secondary school years was his NPCC.
Seeing his struggle with studies, I'd often wondered whether he would ever do better in school.
Then in Sec 3, he started bringing home distinctions in 'unimportant' subjects such as ethics, and the likes, you know? Not the important subjects that count in GCE 'O' level aggregate calculation. And being the practical mother that I was, I said, "I'm not impressed, do well in the other subjects instead!"
It was a good thing my son retorted, "You are always like that! You always say this!" Goodness gracious! What did I always say?
I realized I'd only placed emphasis on his academic subjects and didn't give him praise for other things that he did well. Seeing his hurt expression, I quickly apologized, "Sorry, sorry, you have done well in these, I do hope you can also do well in the rest, but you have indeed done well in these too, son. I'm sorry, I shall not be like this again."
Then, things happened. He started coming home with distinctions in English, then History, then Geography, and gaining new found confidence daily. Praise God.
Fast forward to today. He is in SMU second year, pursuing a course in Political Science, perhaps taking up another major in the course of time. He came back last night with a crystal plaque inscribed with these words, "The School of Social Sciences, certifies that (name) has been placed on the Dean's list for meritorious performance in Academic Year 2007-2008". That means he belongs to the top ten in his faculty!
And he has that sweet smile on his face, just like the one he always had years back whenever he came back with good news that he did well in this and that.
THIS is the same boy I'd fret and worried over all these years, since he was 5. My elder son.
Pss ... tell you about my younger son on another occasion. :)