PSLE results were out yesterday. A majority of them made it to secondary schools (98.4% of 38,942 pupils).
And mind you, if there were any social experiment on a grand scale in this little red dot of ours, it has to be this time of the year where the parent-child relationship is put to the severest of tests; where the rubber indeed meets the road.
Of course, there will be parents who are rejoicing with their kids who did well - even beyond their expectations. And there will be those who failed to meet up to expectation. A few will even repeat the year.
For those who did well, and given their best, a celebration is in order. The parent-child bond only grows stronger and deeper. Needless to say, their child has done them proud.
For those who did not do well, even when they have given their best, this is where the core of the parent-child relationship is put to the test.
In the papers today, there are many faces of joy and accomplishments when holding that slip in their hands. There is also a student who retook his PSLE this year and did well enough to make it to secondary school. His parents were jubilant.
Nevertheless, my lesson this morning comes from the words of the Lakeside Primary School principal Wang-Tan Sun Sun. She said (and expressed) what every parents of academically bright and less so students have to know in their hearts.
She started with the familiar stanza "grades are not everything." Then, she added this line about the PSLE that forms the spine of my lesson this morning:-
"I always tell them that this is just one part of their journey."
Mm...do we as parents (whether our child did well or not) forget that PSLE is just one part of our child's journey?
This journey is special. It is intimate. It is the most empowering investment a parent can ever make in and with his/her child. And it takes a lifetime, or at least our lifetime.
As such, this journey doesn't start and end with a test. It starts and ends between two bookends of a life, that is, their birth and death.
While we as parents are always there at their start, most of us will not be there at their end. That's expected, that is, natural; for it is the age gap that qualifies us to be their parents.
But a journey being a journey, some of us parents run the risk of ending it before the end comes. For them, it ends way before and the parents might not even notice it.
This is the risk that we must guard against. For our child is sensitive even to the slightest of changes in our voice, tone and conduct that usually come after a disappointment or a disillusionment.
In a world where comparisons are made between one child and another not so much to build up but to tear down, we as parents hold this sacred responsibility to resist joining the chorus of condemnation, disapproval and judgment, but to always abide by the choir of hope, faith and love.
We are essentially the guardians of their galaxy and their galaxy is the constellation of their self-esteem, our belief in them, and our unconditional love for them.
This brings me to what the school principal said: "This is just one part of the journey".
PSLE is therefore not the summation of it. Neither is "O" nor "A" levels the swan song of your child's abilities and potential.
Believe it or not, there is still life after that. And if the journey you take with your child is for a lifetime, then trust me, it doesn't start and end with one test or two.
In fact, what we do with failure (as term by this world) will determine how our child will succeed in this journey he or she walks with us as their galaxy guardian.
You see, we are not perfect in our ways. We stumble and fall too. We have a past we rather not share and a future we hide from in anxiety.
But as parents, there is one thing we can do that comes closest to perfection in this fallen world. It is the priceless power we hold in our hands to mold, influence, treasure and build a life not for a one-off performance, but for a lifetime of growth in character, integrity and resilience.
Like an oak tree, the strongest ones take a lifetime to grow. And our child's success in this journey takes a lifetime to glow.
So let me end with the start.
Every crossroad we face with our child is a start of a renewed relationship with him/her. It is definitely not the end of it, that is, a crossroad is not a dead end.
In fact, it is a turning point to develop deeper intimacy and not a downward slope to certain degeneracy. The opportunities to grow with them from thereon is boundless, and it takes a visionary and creative parent to reap the most of it.
In other words, the curve balls that life throws at us need not distance us from our child. We can actually catch it together and develop a play of resilience with them so as to strengthen the bond.
And if PSLE is just a part of the journey with our baby, then as parents, please don't miss out on the long and rewarding road ahead with your child.
Whatever you do or say, please don't make them feel that they have lived a lifetime with you at 12 years of age.
In other words, please don't compress a lifetime into a moment and judge them by it. Instead, spread out that moment into a lifetime and then patiently nurture hope, faith and love with them for all time. That's the greatest privilege of being a parent. And the most rewarding one too. Cheerz.