Wednesday, 29 August 2012

When Murphy's Law Hits

I was busy checking my iPhone after sending Coco to school on Monday morning when I kicked against a kerb and 'piak!' - out came my toe clasp! *gasp*

At 7.30am in the morning, where was I going to find another pair of slippers? Usually I could make do with a spoilt item on me till I get a replacement, like an umbrella, torn garment, undone clasp on clothes, but a broken slipper? I could not walk in it.

I had to remove it and walk with one foot bare. Walked to the nearest bench and started calling for a cab.

Darn, no cab twice in a row!

Then came the frightening part: I had a stomachache!

The only good thing about the ordeal was that I was quite near to the MRT station. Was torn between continuing to call for a cab and making a hundred-metre sprint to the toilet. After a while, decided that the nature's call was irrevocable, so I had to brave myself up for a short walk with one foot bare. I thought I held it up quite well, until it was obvious to me that people were staring at my foot!

After my business at the MRT station toilet, I went back to the void deck I was waiting for a cab. Tried calling a few times again, and no cab was available again!

I decided to try my luck at the shops nearby, hoping to buy a pair of slippers. Truth be told, the thought of grabbing a pair of old slippers at the residents' flats did cross my mind. That's what desperation does to you.

At 8.30am in the morning, what kind of shop would open except for ... a sports footwear shop selling inline skates and trekking shoes!

The kind proprietoress helped me find a pair of 'girly-looking' Northface trekking shoes that cost *gasp* $99, but being such kind people, she asked her husband to give me a discount for my 'emergency purchase' and knocked off a good $19 off the shoes!

We chatted a bit about our kids after they knew that I had broken my slipper while sending my kid to school. They mentioned that their 3 boys were from the same school too and gave me some advice about choosing the Express/Normal stream should the child get to choose.

Incidentally, I think the male boss was an inline-skating trainer for the school I was doing contract-teaching for about ten years ago, but as I was in a hurry to leave, I didn't have the time to reminisce about the nice old memories when his trainers taught me how to skate.

Well, to think I thought nothing could be worse than hearing from the horse's mouth that your kid did not bring her electronic dictionary to school for her Higher Mother Tongue paper, I could only sum up the morning adventures as 'Murphy's Law at work' with a silver lining. And I managed to get home before William had to go out for work by 9.15am!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Alma Mater & Sour Grapes

There have been arguments and articles on whether it is fair to allow Phase 2A to take up vacancies at Primary 1 Registration.

I understand the stress and angst of registering your little ones at Primary 1 Registration. For someone who tracked and fret over the possibility of balloting at Phase 2A2, I totally could understand and could project my fears further on to Phase 2C, which invariably and inevitably experiences heightened fears and insecurities about not being able to get into choice schools.

Personally, I think, like what some forummers the whole argument is about being able to get enrolled into popular schools, and not about getting into schools near home.

People have been attacking Phase 2A, especially 2A2, citing that these old boys and girls are 'sleeping alumni' and 'do not deserve' to get the automated places. To me, that's plain sour grapes mentality.

It seems to me that people who have no worthy alma mater to be proud about are the people who don't understand the sentiment of having one. Whenever the worth of sentiment for an alma mater is brought up, they quickly brush it aside saying 'some people's alma maters are closed down due to mergers'. Doesn't that say something about the alma maters already?

I get really upset that these people are out to attack others for their selfish interest. They literally shout,"Hey, you have it long enough! Let me have it!" and list down reason why you shouldn't have it when it belongs to you in the first place. It reminds me of the time when the 'native' Indonesians screamed 'unfair' over the Chinese Indonesians who were doing better in life - the native Indonesians stated that the Chinese Indonesians had an unfair advantage as they dominated the business arena. I read later on in another article that the ancestors of the native Indonesians and Chinese Indonesians had agreed and set it in stone that the natives would possess the land for cultivation and agriculture while the Chinese Indonesians would own businesses. It happened that the businesses took off and the Chinese Indonesians fared better, generations after that agreement, and the latter natives became jealous and began attacking the Chinese Indonesians' entitlement.

I have one word for it: disgusting.

I can understand how these people hanker after the places. I can understand their angst when they don't get it. But can traces of humanity remain despite the angst and jealousy?

What I don't understand is why grassroots leaders get to be in the earlier phase. They have no business in the school, so what if they 'serve the community'? And for what is it that they are 'serving the community'? The only reason I can think of is that the policy makers were designing the policy to serve their own interest.

If we want everything to go by distance, then by all means, abolish Phase 1 as well, since it takes up the most number of places.

Just because the alumni is the quietest lot doesn't mean that it deserves to be vetoed. Abolish Phase 2B - parent volunteer phase then. If it is not about popular schools, then there should not be any parent 'trying to find out more about the school by being involved'. And you will get more places at Phase 2C. Why should volunteering to help at a school entitle you a place there? Yeah, I know it is not guaranteed but it is a phase that takes up half the remaining places, and it bears no sentiment except 40 or 80 hours of service to the school for an exchange for a place. Isn't that tantamount to 'buying a place' except that it is with your service? So abolish it.

There are a lot of ridiculous suggestions to making changes in the policy eg. make it compulsory that the family must live at the same place for the next 6 years to show that you did not move to that place to get enrolled into the school. Hello! Doesn't that smack of stupidity redefined? Or disperse the schools along Bukit Timah belt all over Singapore. Oh my goodness! I laughed at the suggestion. How silly can people get? When will they realise that it is not the school structure itself or even the teachers that maketh the school? It is the demographics of the children. It is the very children themselves. A teacher is only as good as her students. A teacher teaches to the level of the students. The teacher does not teach independently of her students. I can teach creative writing with bombastic vocabulary for all I want, but do the students get it when they are struggling with forming grammatical sentence structures? I am sure none of the teachers would teach them ungrammatical structures but why are they still struggling with them at Primary 6? Does that not boil down to attitudes of students?

There are two more years before Baby can be registered for Primary One and by then Coco would have graduated from her school. We would have to register under Phase 2A so naturally, I am for this phase. I have never shared an alma mater with any of my 6 siblings. Neither have any one of us, because of the foreigner policy. I would like Coco and Baby to share the same alma mater. Perhaps this is the only common ground that they can share despite the big age gap.

I might be accused for writing about this in my selfish interest. Whether it is for my selfish interest is beside the point. The fact is, it is my entitlement. I am certainly not in favour of capping vacancies for Phase 2A or scrapping the alumni phase. I hope MOE will not entertain such ludicrous requests supported by warped arguments.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Timeturner Beautiful. A Job Well Done

Many things are brewing on the forums. I have been busying preparing the prelim exams with Coco and loads of things have been on my mind. There are times when I want to blog about this and that thing but by the time there is time for anything at all, I would be so dead beat the only thing I really want to do is to hit the sack.

I just realised that my last post was about Coco getting 38/50 for her Chinese prelim oral exam. The truth is, I realised soon enough that the top girl in Coco's class got 46/50 for her Chinese oral, and it doesn't take a genius to guess that the examiner could have been a tad too strict with the giving of marks, so I guess I over-reacted, much.

The next day, Coco told me that she got 30/30 for her English prelim oral exam.

I think that's quite an achievement. Having been a PSLE oral examiner, I must say it is no mean feat to do that well. And for what she did, I got her a Timeturner from the Harry Potter souvenir shop. If anyone remembers, Dumbledore gave Hermione the Timeturner so that she could go back in time with Harry to save the prisoner of Azkaban. It was what Coco really wanted since the first time she fell her gaze upon it in early June this year, even though it is purely ornamental. That's girls for you!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Today, Coco dropped me a bomb: she got 38/50 for her Chinese Oral Exam.

I felt very let-down, discouraged and angry, to say the least.

I have prepared a list of vocabulary which mainly consists of four-character phrases and/or proverbs to target common scenarios and behaviours ie. if she sees children playing, she ought to use adjectives to describe how they are playing; if she sees old men or old ladies, she is supposed to use a proverb and elaborate on how we should respect them etc.

I have also told her she should talk about her feelings as required by the Oral criteria.

Apparently, her teacher told her that she was weak in Picture Discussion and Conversation when before the exam, the same teacher told her she was weak in Reading.

And her teacher said that she did not mention her feelings.

I am very upset because I have told her, and repeatedly reminded her that she must not state just one feeling as one feeling is negligible. She should state a few instead.

I had an outburst of emotions in front of my parents because I was close to being devastated. It was a combination of disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, helplessness, anger and sadness. I felt betrayed that Coco did not do her best, or even do what she was simply required to do despite being told over and over again.

When she returned from school after the Oral Exam, she told me that she did badly as she didn't know how to say the word 'tent' in Chinese.

I hit the roof because that very morning before she went to school, I had asked her to pay attention to the vocabulary in a Picture Discussion scenario, with a 'tent' being drawn in the picture!

I told her I didn't even mind that she didn't put in her 100%. I just wanted to see some effort on her part for her own exam. How can it be that her parents are more hardworking than her for the exam?!!

I honestly feel very let-down. It's at times like this that I hate to be a parent. I know I should not say this, but I'd wish I were single like some of my friends. They are mostly happy people, without the emotional, physical and financial burden of rearing children. How I have aged compared with friends who do not have kids! And whatever they earn, they save for themselves, or spend on themselves. And they don't have to take leave and give up their pay for kids. They don't have to fret over their exams, and rack their brains to coach them or prepare resources for them. I know it's childish, but how I wish I could turn the clock back to before I had kids!

God, help me ...

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Mystery Solved!

The father bought these for Baby ...

Well, at least it solves the mystery of why Baby often writes in mirror image form! For quite some time, I have been wondering if it is normal or does she really have dyslexia that she writes her '2', 'C' and the likes in reflected form.

And I have no doubt that these letter sponge pieces are cheap, and probably stuck on by some illiterates!