Saturday, October 06, 2012

Working for School

There is something called cruel irony. 30 years ago, when I was to be registered for Primary One, my mother tried to make the best of a bad situation. I was the third child with two brothers ahead of me. That meant where I could go to school was limited. As a member of the Anglican Church and my brothers already being in an Anglican school, my mother thought that she should try to send me to an Anglican girls' school. Unfortunately, as a 6 year old, I thought wearing a white and green dress with green dots was cruel and unusual punishment and protested. I insisted on going to a school that had a uniform that was blue and white, as was the uniform of my brothers'. If I could, I think I would have gone to school in specifically blue shorts and a white top. The second best my mother could do was to put me into a school with a blue pinafore and a white blouse. And that was with much difficulty.

There is much in the press about allowing alumni priority to get their children into their alma maters. There is a demand to reduce the access of alumni to the alma maters for their children. I don't agree, even though I am not sending my daughter back to my alma mater. I am choosing not to send her there, not because it is a bad school, in fact it is highly sought after. I am choosing not to send her there because I don't agree with the work ethos of the school and I don't agree with the attitude of the school administration that demands the children have fully covered their Primary One syllabus before even setting foot into the door.

As a result of that, I am put into the position where I have either work for a place for Jordan to get her into a school of choice, leave it up to chance or move to a different country (although I hear it is equally ridiculous in most countries!). I have chosen to carry out my first option, to volunteer to work at a school so that Jordan stands a chance to get in. And this is where the irony of the situation is.

I am volunteering at the school that I blatantly rejected when I was six years old. The fact that I wouldn't need to do this if I had quietly accepted to go to school there has not escaped me and has in fact sent my mother into gales of gleeful laughter and 'I told you so'. And since humility and acknowledging wrong is not my strongest suit, I have also turned around and pointed the finger at Packrat; had I not transferred my church membership from an Anglican church to a Methodist Church (where the membership gets me no registration privileges), I wouldn't need to work so hard.

It isn't difficult work. It's very straight forward. But some of it, takes a lot out of me. That's because part of what I need to do is to feed wildlife. Not lions and tigers but little critters that make my hair stand up, shudder and spend the rest of the time imagining that there is one that got away and is creeping all over my back or my hair.

The part I like is being in the open, watering plants and feeding fish. I also love that the little girls come up to me with non-sequiturs like 'the fish food is bigger than the fish. I like my char siew bao'. What I don't like is feeding the amphibians. I have to feed frogs. And I have to feed the mudskippers. I am terrified the mudskippers 'skip' as my hand reaches in to drop their pellets of food. My sweet neighbour and friend who is also volunteering there had to do the unpleasant job a day before of cleaning out their tank! On top of that, I have to feed the frogs and this time, it isn't with pellets but with crickets. How does one get the crickets into the frog tank? We catch them, out of their own tank. And with all creatures who know that their end is near, they put up a big fuss and are fierce, aggressive and hop all over the place. I think there is one that is loose in the science lab because it hopped out of the tank as I was trying to catch a bunch of them and hid behind some bottles. Chasing it would have elicited a great amount of excitement from the girls who were having a science lesson.

Then there is the stick insectarium. I love these little creatures, possibly because the children have a book called The Stick Man and they remind me of him. Or it is difficult to be fearful of something that resemble a stick with legs, even if they move.

A friend commented upon hearing all this that that was why there was a Chinese song ' 世界上只好". Loosely translated, Mommy is the best in the world. Why? Because in this case, Mommy has to overcome or resist the urge to scream and jump at the slimy non-fish, no animal amphibian, just so that Jordan can get into school.

And since I am going through all this to get her into the school, I think my effort should transcend generations! It should be enough to get my daughter's daughter into the school if Jordan desires. If she doesn't, then she has to go find her own frogs and mudskippers to feed. I've done what I can.

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  1. I'm from the only green polka dot school too! And likely my girl too heh heh :)

  2. Whoops read wrongly thought u went to the polka dot school oops haha. I don't have the same drive to volunteer just to get her into the school! Haha :p

  3. Madeline,
    Since you were alumnus, then you don't need to volunteer. :)