One of My Mum’s proudest moments as a kid back in 1957

My mum always told me the story of how she failed primary 3 and had to repeat it. Every time, she sounded so sad and dejected. She only failed by 1.5 marks too and she was a sickly child. We were under colonial rule then and she had very strict teachers at Raffles Girls’ School and a principal who was a stickler for rules such that even my grandfather’s appeal didn’t work.

My poor mum was so sickly that she had to undergo surgery at the tender age of just 7. A tonsillectomy that I don’t think would have been carried out in this day and age. It must have been terrifying, but as preschoolers, we loved to hear the story over and over as she the related the best part. How she was given vanilla ice cream post surgery as that was soothing for her throat. Ice cream was an expensive and rare treat then.

My mum was really great with us and just children in general. The best teacher and story teller. Also the best playmate as she was a relatively young mum and actually still a kid herself. She always deferred to her mum, my grandmother, as the authority in everything.

Anyway I only just learnt that my mum won a prize in primary 4 in 1957 (for being first in class) and she showed me her now 65 year old treasure – a nature book that she chose as her prize. She said that her father and eldest sister attended the ceremony and they were proud of her. She always misses her eldest sister who passed away recently.

Makes me so happy to hear that she had that moment as she truly deserved it. There were some mean kids that shunned her when she had to repeat primary 4 and it made me think that parents should teach kids kindness and humility. Far greater virtues for the betterment of us all, than being able to get good test scores.

Even as she was relating this story she was focusing on how her sisters (my mum’s the middle kid of the 3 girls, well actually 5 of 7 in total) were so good at school and won lots of prizes. To me, her award meant everything, because of the effort she put in.

My mum has low confidence, but in my opinion she is beyond talented and I would be proud if I could have even a fraction of her abilities. She could cook the most satisfying wholesome food I can’t find anywhere, drove us everywhere, even sewed us clothes. She taught me till primary six and it’s only because of her that I actually enjoyed learning and did well. Often wish I had been home schooled. I might have turned out much more confident and not so broken.

There is no one I know who has better penmenship than my mum or the ability to organise things. She is meticulous with details and archiving. She is always showing me a treasure or other from the past. Usually documents.

I can’t list all her skills as they are countless. She is still my greatest cheerleader and always sacrificing her well being for us. Always putting herself last. As a child, the safest place was in my mother’s arms and that was the greatest feeling of all.

I only wish more people could have good mothers or mother figures, because I know of those who have never experienced this kind of love. This is why I don’t think everyone should have kids for the sake of having kids. Especially if your only intention is that the kid be your insurance in old age. Or a demanded filial piety. It doesn’t work that way.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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