Sunday, 17 March 2013

Strangers are Better

Yesterday, I was at my parents' place.

When I saw how my brother-in-law punished my nephew who is taking PSLE this year, I spoke softly to my fifth sister on how he should not use army style to punish a child ie. by making him do a half-squat and stretching out his arms on a horizontal plane.

She said I was irritating and that I should tell my brother-in-law what I think if I so desire.

Tears were flowing down his cheeks as my nephew struggled to keep his arms horizontally placed and his trembling legs firm in a half-squat position.

So I stood up, went to my nephew and shielded him.

That was when the war erupted.

My fifth sister shouted at me and scolded me for interrupting the punishment.

I shouted back at her, saying that they themselves did not do their part as parents and put the blame on the child entirely.

She blurted,"Yes, yes! Your child go to prestige school! My child go to neighbourhood school! If you are so good, go and teach your students well and don't complain about them!"

I was stunned.

Is this what you have always thought about me?

My third sister shouted at me,"Don't make the punishment ineffective!"

And she said, after the episode,"If you are sooooo good, teach him yourself! Now I know why you have so many problems at work! You only think that your method is the best! You don't know how to work in a team!"

I was stunned, again.

Is this what my sisters have been thinking of me? Think a world of myself? Think that I am the best? Uncooperative? Unable to work with others?

I had mentioned in my private watsapp with my sisters that my students are so weak that Baby could count better than some of them and it is not likely that they could attain the required P3 standard.

Obviously, they read it as "I could not teach for nuts".

I had also confided in them how I found older single women generally more difficult to work with, and how the teacher-aid constantly overruled me in the classroom.

Obviously, they read it as "I could not work with others."

I had told them that my nephew did not do his work and bring his work when he came for William's tuition.

Obviously, they read it as "He is lazy and we cannot handle him."

I had thought that age would mature people. I had thought that sisters are meant for sharing.

This episode confirms my belief that strangers are better than friends, and sisters too! I am just disheartened that we can't even share our weaknesses with our own sisters.

I have never believe that there is one method that works with children. And I have always have doubts with my methods. I never for once thought that my methods are the best.

Just because Coco goes to our (and her, of course) school of choice does not mean that my method is the best, but it does mean that my method did get something into her brain, even if it was for those few months.

The most basic thing I know about coaching schoolwork is: you don't sit on the sofa and play with your phone while your child sits on the floor and do his work. Neither do you let a child look at a paper for 4 to 5 hours and then scold him for not completing it after 4 to 5 hours.

A paper is at most 1h 45min? I know that they had sent my father for a medical check-up that morning, but they didn't check on my nephew immediately after they returned. And upon seeing that he had not completed it, my brother-in-law punished him using the army style.

You would rather play Candy Crush and complain that it hangs on your phone than time your child or coach him doing Math. After that, you scold him for not finishing his work.

If he was not my nephew, if I don't view you as my family members, would I have even bothered?

My mother, my elder and third sisters and my brother said this,"He is somebody else's son!"

'Somebody else's son'. It is always easier to turn a blind eye to somebody else's son when you know he is on the road to get Bs or even Cs for PSLE. It is always easier to turn a blind eye to somebody else's son when the parents themselves can't be bothered with the son's studies.

Isn't he my nephew? Aren't you my sister? So you are 'somebody else' and he is 'somebody else's son' whom I shouldn't be bothered with?

If I didn't rescue him from the abortion table 12 years ago, I would not have bothered.

If I didn't want him to do well and go to a better school, I would not have bothered.

Since when did I compare Coco and his abilities?

Since when did I mention that Coco is better than he?

The only thing I would ackowledge, and remains true, is that Coco, being a girl, had a lot more stamina at sitting at a table. And that didn't come naturally.

It came with a lot of modeling and training, and our insistence and perseverance at sitting at the table with her. If we, as adults, can't even sit at a table for long hours, how can we expect a child to do that? If we ourselves hate doing the papers (even though we really do), how can we expect the child not get saturated after facing the papers for 4 or 5 hours?

I have always maintained that my nephew picked up reading earlier than Coco despite being younger. Isn't that an indication of his natural higher intelligence?

What have you done to him these years that he has fallen behind her?

Isn't that negligence on your part?

I am just so disappointed that even sisters can have such huge misgivings about my good intention.

It's true that I have a lot to say about my sister's upbringing of her kids, but I have always tried to restrain myself from criticising her parenting style. It's when my brother-in-law punishes my nephew using army style that causes me to interrupt.

I know it is not good for the kid to see me defending him while his parents punish, but how different am I from people who don't care when they see someone else's son being mistreated if I let it go?

I understand that beating him does not work (anymore). That is the result of beating him till the stick broke and hurling vulgarities at him since he was just four.

I am far from a perfect parent, but I do know the difference between a child and a soldier, and you should not impose a punishment fit for a recruit on your own son. Neither should you have got him so used to beatings that they don't work on him anymore when he is barely twelve.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rain. Spring here. Always happy to read your blog. I dont know your sisters well.
But I do know that the academic competition drives one nuts.
My gal is not doing well in school. She is in p4 and she got 70's for english, maths and chinese. Science she got 52%. This is in spite of the fact that i give her heaps of tuition. I feel very sore each time someone tells me that their child got into gifted or scored band 1 for all.
My gal is in a mission school. COP to get back is only 220. I am not evwn sure she can make it.
Your sisters i believe, are jealous. So dont take it personally.
Also, not all siblings are close. I am not close to my only brother

Rain said...

Thanks, Spring, for the comforting words.

It didn't occur to me that jealousy could be in the way and I hope it's more about PSLE stress than that.

Coco was having tuition for her English, but I didn't think that it was effective since her compo never saw any improvement. After my first-hand experience, I can't help but feel that mothers make the best tutors. We are more likely and desperate to find out our kids' weak areas and remedy them. Our kids are also more likely to be motivated when we are involved in their studies.

There is still time at P4. Arrest her problems now so that she won't be demoralised when she takes the leap at P5.

Gimme your email address. I am not an expert myself but what resources I know, I'll share.