It is almost cliche to say that the only constant in life is change.
Yet, it is such a difficult subject to deal with.
It is not easy for the adults.
And it is probably much worse for the kids.

Singapore has changed so much that it can be difficult to deal with.
After just 1 year of being away, our first rude shock was when we got lost on the ECP going towards AYE.
We used to drive home along that route so often that the effort was subconscious.
ECP always led to AYE so you didn’t have to navigate and look for exits.
So imagine our shock when we found ourselves lost on the MCE and looking at unfamiliar road signs.
We exited the MCE and found ourselves in familiar surroundings but on roads that did not yet exist in our conception.
Finally, the GPS locked in and guided us to our destination.
Over the next few weeks, we had more surprises.

Some parts of the PIE had been “upsized”.
The giant structure staring at us across the bay was not an alien.
spaceship; it was the newly completed Sportshub.
The National Day celebrations are going to be held there instead of the floating platform at Marina Bay.

And this story repeats itself again and again.
Familiar structures disappeared, new ones popped up.
There was construction everywhere.
Car and property prices are astronomical.
Add our move from the United States to the equation.
And life becomes almost too stressful.

But external change is not all that needs to be dealt with.
Change also comes from within.
And because internal change can be so foundational, it could be so much more difficult to manage.
And for us, the internal change had been profound.

Take for example the children.
They went to a private school in the States, where they not only learned, but they had fun.
It was amazing.

The school teachers treated the children like equals; respected them; listened to them; and had fun together.
It was truly a journey of learning that teacher, child and parent alike took together.
We got involved with the school not because we had to do.
We got involved because it was the spirit.
Where everybody contributed a little bit to the school community.
All the parents volunteered a little, baked or cooked a little, or helped to man the stall at the school festival, or helped to clean up after that.

Sure, we paid a premium to get our kids to that school since going to a public school would have been completely free.
But, what we paid was only a fraction of what most parents pay for a preschool here in Singapore.
Money aside, can we find a school like that in Singapore?
Where it is not just about the PSLE, but also about the community.
A community where even strangers from far away lands feel a part of.

Malcolm and Marcus miss their schools in the States.
Malcolm has letters from his teachers thanking him for the little things that he did in school.
Marcus has wonderful memories of his time there.
I think it was a special time for both of them.

So we were hesitant to put them back into the schools here.
We wanted to find something that would bring back the sense of belonging, community, and most importantly fun.

We looked high and low, visiting schools, looking at parent forums.
But no matter what, it always seemed to fall short of our expectations.
I can almost feel the virtual cogs turning in our children’s schools, driving the machinery necessary to transform our kids into ace students and top athletes.
It didn’t matter if it was a renowned school. It felt the same.
It was about the measurable results and the quantifiable outcomes, even as touted the holistic children development programs and so on and so forth.

It didn’t matter that Malcolm had already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at the age of ten, and had consumed more novels than both my husband and I have combined.
He is still just a regular kid, unless of course he scores a PSLE aggregate of 270+, and then he would be someone special. Around here at least.

But in the heart of his teachers in the little school, Malcolm was that new student who had a wager with the school librarian on who could read more.
Malcolm was that special kid that won the bet and shaved the librarian’s beard in front of his cheering classmates and whom they believe will go on and achieve great things.

We put both kids back into their old schools. Malcolm accepted it.
Marcus resisted initially, but finally acquiesced.
We realised that the schools didn’t really matter that much anymore.
We have changed.
Our perspectives have changed, maybe for good.
The year in the States had left an indelible mark on our consciousness; even for the kids.
And we are unlikely to repeat that experience here in our school system.

Instead, we decided that we would let the schools do what they do, and on our part, we were going to make up for it.
We would make a conscious decision to live, learn, have fun, respect each other, and remember that our kids are all special in their own special ways.




  1. Lyn lee says:

    It must be so tough. If only, if only… I have so many if onlys when it comes to the education system here….

    • malmal says:

      thanks Lyn, thankfully we are slowly getting into a routine. Can’t say that I have no complaints about our education system…in fact, just 2 weeks into it, I have much to complain, maybe I should blog about it!

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