This is one of those posts where I had to think long and hard about how to write it because it's such a personal matter. I pondered over whether it was necessary to advertise my daughter's results to all and sundry on a public blog. At the same time, many parents have been faithfully following Lesley-Anne's education journey on this blog over a year and cheering her on. For this reason, I felt a sense of obligation to my readers, to provide a proper closing to this chapter in her life.
As I reflected on it further, I became convinced that I should share her results, the reason which will be revealed at the end.
That Friday before the results, Lesley-Anne's piano teacher told her, "All the best! But no matter what you get, give thanks." That was clue no.1.
In the school hall before they released the results, the teacher in charge led in the singing of two hymns, one of them was "Give thanks." Clue no.2.
The principal exhorted parents to accept whatever results their kids got as God gives everything purposefully. Clue no.3.
The atmosphere was so tense I could practically feel the anxiety of both the parents and the students. Finally, Lesley-Anne got her results - 252 for her T-score, 3 A* (English, Maths, Science) and 1 A (Chinese).
When she first showed it to me, my mind was a jumble of mixed emotions. On one hand, I was truly pleased with the 3 A*, I honestly didn't expect her to get A* for Maths and Science. On the other hand, 252 sounded like a lower score than what GEP kids would typically get.
So there I was trying to digest the news, not really sure how to react. Then I saw Lesley-Anne among some of her friends who'd scored 260+ and 270+ - she was genuinely happy for them without any tinge of envy, and more importantly, she was happy with her own score. And the thought flashed across my mind, "if she's not comparing with others, why am I?"
That night when she was saying her prayers, she said "Thank you God for my results" with such honest and simple gratitude that I was moved. I don't want to be overly dramatic and say that I had an epiphany there and then, but I think I finally understood what true thanksgiving was all about. On hindsight, the three clues were probably God's prompting for me.
Too often, we give thanks with conditions attached - only when God gives us exactly what we want. But we are told to give thanks in ALL circumstances. How do we do this? By understanding and acknowledging that God gives us everything for a reason, there is no accidental gift. Every gift is designed to build us, mould us or serve a larger purpose.
This is not rationalisation, as some cynics might believe. As I reflected on how far Lesley-Anne has come, I realised that we were seeing God's long-term plan for her in action. Back when she was just 9 years old, He led her into the GEP which provided the kind of education she needed. Through the GEP, she was led towards applying for DSA to the secondary school that she loves - one that we didn't even consider a year ago.
During her time in GEP, Lesley-Anne had never been among the top rung of high achieving students. While some GEP kids cruised their way through the programme, she has always had to work extra hard just to keep up. What she lacked in pure brilliance, she made up with hard work. Throughout this year, I have seen Lesley-Anne dedicate immense effort, initiating extra revision time on top of what the teachers doled out. From seeing the effort she put in, I know this was the best score she could manage, and therefore, there was nothing to be sorry for and everything to be proud of.
And once again, God had everything in place - since she has already been successful in her DSA, her PSLE score is in fact, inconsequential.
So to cut a long story short, I decided to share Lesley-Anne's results not simply to satisfy the curiosity of readers. Truth be told, the T-score is just a number, a child is so much more than that. But what I have gained as a result of this whole exercise is a lesson in the true spirit of thanksgiving. It is something that Lesley-Anne understood better than I did, and it's a message I feel compelled to share, especially in the light of the Christmas season.
We are richly blessed, and by giving thanks, we know this more.
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21