So a quick update into life in my corner of the world. Not that my three followers (you know who you are!) need this update, they already know what's going on via Facebook updates etc. But sometimes it's just therapeutic to sit and take stock. Have to say though that I do have three articles sitting on my deadline of 31 Aug and I'm nowhere near completing those but as with all forms of writing I do, consider this warm-up and a good way to just let the words flow.
With another year gone, the children are older of course, and busier. It gets harder now to really get everyone around one table for a meal. The relationships also see subtle shifts.
With Gillian and Isaac, who are now 18 and 17 respectively, their lives are crowded with school, internship, friends, church work and the ever-present Facebook updates. Isaac did surprisingly decently for his O levels and got into TP's Aviation Management course. This means that we are together on campus but in a sea of 18000 students and 1700 staff, we never meet. Of course that does not mean I don't try to
He fobs me off sometimes and I let him. He's older and wants his space. I don't like micro-managing. If the boy wants to look as shaggy and unkempt as a UK boy band, he's entitled to it. I may not like it but I'm beginning to realise and accept that there really is little I can do. That's something the husband does not seem to realise though and he is full-on about nagging, lecturing, prodding. I really would rather not but that's his style and I don't interfere. It just leads to the boy avoiding his father at all cost and maybe being a bit more open to telling me more stuff. That's fine with me.
Gillian is doing her internship in Butterfly Park now, giving tours to little children, student groups and tourists. She's coming home late, often exhausted but even when she tells us how tough her day was, she always manages to find pockets of optimism and snatches of joy. So if the silly parrot pecked her or the iguana dug its claws deep into her arm, she's okay because she enjoyed showing a butterfly to pre-schoolers or maybe she helped some Korean visitors feel more at ease with the insects with a smattering of Korean. She's learning that the working world is never easy but Gillian being Gillian, in her happy-go-lucky way, she always sees the silver lining and that keeps her going for the next day. And in all honesty, in life, what more can we ask for right? Not to dwell on the pain but to keep chugging along in spite of it. That kind of resilience she's got in spades.
Caitlin is in the throes of labour pains for the PSLE - the mugging, the angst, the tears and process that is called PSLE prep. The government has announced some measures to try to ease the stress. I'm not going to be pessimistic even before I've heard what these specific changes are, but what I do hear so far does not leave me hopeful that the situation will get better for subsequent PSLE kids and their parents. I'm just cynical that way. Which is why I think its just best to go your own road and do what you think is best for the child at the child's ability levels. The rest of the world and society can just take their yardsticks of success and shove it where the sun don't shine. There will never be a level playing field and those who think the government will do level out one for you would be really deluded.
For us, it's one month more and then it'll be all over. No matter how you plug at it, the quality of your work for the past two years would already preclude your performance at the PSLE. There is no magic bullet, and to be honest, hard work only does this much. I don't believe a child who consistently fails will suddenly soar to A* levels just because s/he has worked hard for the past couple of months. Intrinsically if the child has always been a 70%-scoring child, she will continue to be a 70%-scoring child at the PSLE. Maybe the burst of effort might push it up 10% but I don't expect miracles. Which is why again, the husband and I are at odds with each other. He pushes, I don't. I'm probably just lazy but I really dislike like micromanaging - have I said this before? Hmm... He's the one nattering away about powerzones and I'm the one just going - "eh do your best la." Does this create tension? You bet. In more ways than one.
Owain is puttering away at school, firing well on all cylinders except Chinese. This boy is bright. He does very well for Eng, Math and Science. The recent CA2 results showed high Band 1 grades for all three. Then when it comes to Chinese our friend plunges the depths to emerge a dismal Band 4. Not even a borderline but a really bad fail. On the bright side, he seems to have discovered an entrepreneurial flair. To reward his good performance, his Math teacher (who has a soft spot for him) gave him a highlighter and a set of some Animal Zoo cards or something like that. He does not play this card-trading game but his friends do. So he's offered to sell the deck for $8 - and someone actually accepted! The other day someone in school wanted loose change for a $2 note. Owain offered to make the change, pulling out all the coins he had - about $1.10 in all. His friend accepted the trade so Owain made $0.90 as 'commission'. This boy should either end up in government one day as PM or a really really sharp loanshark.
And now for my baby girl Trinity. This one I will protect till the end. I will defend her from her siblings when they gang up on her, from her teachers when they label her or throw boxes of homework at her and from the big nasty world if it tries to be funny with her. Like Gillian, she's extremely sunny-natured. Not the sharpest knife in the box but she makes up for it with a lot of sincere effort. She works really really hard. She takes a longer time than other kids to remember things, to absorb concepts and even then she forgets just as quickly. But the good thing about her is that she never gives up.
In the right frame of mind, when I work with her on her schoolwork, you can see that she tries hard. She can be tired and overloaded but she will try. She gives it her all. When she goes for swimming class, the coach says "Do 10 star jumps!" Other kids would be doing the half-hearted swings, cutting corners when they can. Not Trin. She would give each and every jump her whole-hearted enthusiasm, leaping high and spreading out as if her life depended on it. She can be tenacious even if she struggles. And yes she does struggle. It's showing in her school work, in her grades. She's just walking to the beat of a different drummer. When the world moves on, she'll be plodding along in the rear. That's why I feel like I have to walk with her. Take care of her for as long as I can. She's going to be 8 but she still sleeps with me and I'm so reluctant to give her up. It would be one step away from me and that is a step I am so unwilling to take.