Monday, January 5, 2015

Forget me not

I love the start of a new school year. It's always so full of hope and symbolises fresh beginnings: Since my kid is one year older, surely he will be wiser, pay more attention in class and score better grades in exams! This is the year he will transform into an A student! I just know it.

Lesley-Anne once told me that our minds tend to play tricks on us by brushing our bad memories with a rose-coloured tint. It's a defence mechanism to help us cope and protect us from re-living emotional trauma. Which is all well and good but I also believe it makes us slightly deluded.

When Andre was in primary school, one of the things about him that used to drive me bananas was his seeming inability to listen, a close second only to his memory which had more holes than a gopher colony's network. For instance, in p4, there was a question he had answered incorrectly in his science paper: "Plants photosynthesise in the daytime and respire at night". I told him that plants respired all the time, not just at night. I then diligently went through the lesson with him to make sure he understood it.

The next term, barely three months later, he came home with another science paper and I saw to my chagrin that in response to a similar question, he'd again written: "Plants respire only at night."

Me *exasperated*: "I already told you! Plants respire in the day AND at night!"

Andre: "Hah? They do? You never told me that!"

Me *staring at him in disbelief*: "We went through the lesson! Weren't you listening??"

Andre gave me an indignant look as if to say I was dreaming the whole thing up. So we went through the lesson once again. "You understand it now? Plants don't just respire at night, they respire all the time." He nodded.

A year later in p5, you wouldn't believe it but he got exactly the same question wrong AGAIN. The sentence that had come to plague me in my nightmares: "Plants respire at night." OMG! I blew my top. "What's wrong with you? Are you trying to kill me??"

He looked at me blankly. "Hah? Plants don't respire at night?"

Sometimes I wonder if aliens abduct my son at night and replace him with a look-alike model.

Trying to teach Andre anything was always frustrating because even if I'd succeeded in getting him to understand something, I knew there was a good chance he would have no recollection of it later. Yet every start of the school year, I would have this inexplicable hope that he would miraculously grow a beautiful mind overnight.

Now that he's in secondary school, the situation has improved somewhat but he still has a problem with listening. Whenever he tells me the teacher didn't say this or the other, my instinctive scepticism always surfaces. "She didn't say it or you didn't hear it?" Which if you think about it, is kinda a pointless question because if he didn't hear it, he certainly wouldn't know if she had said it.

Then of course, there's the "hear half the instructions" syndrome. If I'm at a mall and tell Andre to "go to BreadTalk and tell Daddy I'll be there in 15 minutes", he would hear only "go to BreadTalk." Then he'll call me five minutes later and ask, "I'm at BreadTalk. Where are you?"

A couple of weeks ago, Lesley-Anne was complaining how tired she was.

Lesley-Anne: "I'm sleepy and grumpy."

Me *teasing*: "So those are the two dwarfs you identify with?"

Lesley-Anne: "Yup. And in the morning, Sneezy."

Me: "Which one are you, Andre?"

Andre: "Me? I'm Blur."

Lesley-Anne: "Blur?? That's not a dwarf!"

Andre: "Huh? What dwarf?"

Me: "Never mind. I think Blur is right."

But that was 2014. It's a New Year. Surely this year, Andre will make the transformation. I can feel it in my bones. 


Jenn-mylilbookworm said...

I can't help but to have a good laugh. You must be very strong physically & mentally now, to have your heart & mind tested (& trained) over so many years. :P

monlim said...

Jenn: Two traits I've found essential to maintaining sanity: hope and humour :D

Unknown said...

Hahaha! So funny! All the best to u and your kids in the new year!

monlim said...

Jeanne: Thank you! All the very best to and your kids too!

Yin mee said...

The trouble with boys! I had such a good laugh reading this. My son was the same. But he could remember all the kings of ancient civilisations like Nebuchadnezzar. And the names of all the weird fishes in the deep sea. But not the stuff he needed for PSLE. Like you, I tried to be positive but in the end, I think what they don't remember is probably not important, at least not in their own lives.

monlim said...

Yin Mee: And don't forget advertisement jingles! No problem remembering those! But yeah, they probably sieve out what they feel isn't important. I just have to make sure he doesn't become a botanist ("plants respire when??"), lol!

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