I'm facing the possibility of a premature empty nest syndrome. Brian has been bringing up the possibility of boarding at his school ever since he completed his school orientation at the end of last week. Needless to say, he's having a great time at ACSI. He seems to love everything about it...the schedule is hectic, and since school started, he's not been back any earlier than 710pm. Today, he got back at 7.24pm after Wushu training. Yes, you heard that right, Wushu! lol, he's actually been to two training sessions, each lasting about 2 hours.
Not sure if his enthusiasm will still be there after many more weeks of such long school hours, but based on what my friend Slim tells me, her son who's in Year 2 in the same school is having the time of his life, though he is sometimes clearly exhausted.
Another friend Elan shared about her childhood fantasies of going to a boarding school. I too had the same dreams, fantasising about secret midnight feasts in school dorms, all from reading and re-reading Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers and St Clares.
My dad told me that if I did well in my Pri 5 national exams (like PSLE), I could apply for ASEAN scholarship and study in Singapore. This fuelled my dreams of being in a boarding school; moreover, I was always enamoured with all the different school uniforms I saw when I holidayed in Singapore.
So I worked really hard for my Pri 5 exams, even drew up my own 5-week timetable to mug for 5 subjects (I was a very independent and motivated/kiasu 11-year old). Well, I scored the full 5As, which during those days wasn't that common. I was soooo happy, thinking I could finally get out of Malacca and go to Singapore.
Then when the time came, my dad, on the advice of his friends who said I was too young (and probably cos he couldn't bear for me to leave home at 12), said I shouldn't apply for Asean scholarship just yet, but only after my Form 3 national exams. I felt sooooo cheated and resentful. I think I cried and sulked for days. Anyway, by early secondary, I lost a lot of motivation to study cos discovered...BOYS!! So didn't do very well in my Form 3 exams and didn't bother to apply for the scholarship. I always wonder what could have been had I gone to Singapore as an Asean scholar in Sec 1.
And now I'm facing the same predicament my dad faced almost 30 years ago. Now I finally understand the dilemma faced by him. When I hold Brian back, am I doing it for me or for him? Is it time to learn to let go or is a 12-year old just too young to make such decisions? It doesn't help that I've heard such great things about ACSI's boarding school, from friends like Slim, Li Ping (whose colleague's wife is a hall master there) and from reviews by parents whose children have developed so well because of their stay there.
My head says let go, my heart says Not yet! In any case, it's not as if this is between 1980s Malacca vs Singapore schooling, he is returning to a unique, wonderful, international schooling experience. Why does he need to think so far into the future, about being well-prepared for IB, about being able to keep up? Sigh...I told him he's 12, he shouldn't be worrying about such things now, that's what the through-train programme is for right?..."You've worked hard for PSLE, now just enjoy the fruits of your labourlah, you already got into ACSI!".
Well, as with so many decisions I've made in my life (some with disastrous results), for now, I will go with my heart. Let's see if more prayer and time will lead to a different decision...