A Letter For My Daughter – Primary One Is Over

Dearest Phoebie,

Yesterday was the last day of your first year in primary school! Which means, you and I won’t have to wake up at 6am for the next six weeks! What joy!

Do you know, that Mama is actually very thankful that most of the time, you are not grumpy in the morning? On most mornings, I don’t really have to wake you too many times, and you will get out of bed, wash up and get changed for school.

On the mornings that you do get grumpy, it is usually because you slept later than your usual bedtime the night before. By now, we have learnt that sleeping early really makes a difference because you will be more well rested in the morning, and I don’t have to say “If you take your time, you will have to take the bus on your own” that often anymore.

Do you remember your first day of school? You were up bright and early, and you were in such a good mood. You knew that you had a new adventure ahead of you, and after Papa and I prayed for you, you headed to your new school, excited about what awaits you.

The first week of school was really interesting, especially during recess time. While most of your classmates had one older buddy, for some reason, you had two! And the two older students took such good care of you that they even fed you with your water bottle! It was only when I told them that you are independent enough to do basic things on your own that they decided to guide you with other things instead.

Talking about recess time reminds me of how you spent 80% of this year’s recess time eating fishballs. I am guessing that it was the one thing you thought you knew how to buy and that it was something you could eat fast enough not to miss play time. The other reason was probably because you didn’t dare to try the other food as you were unsure if you would like the taste. You bought fishballs so often that the aunty at the stall would see you and right away ask, “How many today?”

You know, Phoebie, I’m really glad that I insisted on you learning to buy food on your own during recess. I could have packed food for you from home, so that you would eat less fish balls, but I didn’t. You made me so proud when you started telling me about the different food you started to try, especially in term 4!

From fishballs, you eventually tried prata, mac and cheese, wanton mee, brownies and even satay! So in primary one, not only did you learn to buy your own food, you learnt to try new food that you were unsure of! There are some that you liked more than others, and there are some that you bought only once and never again. But hey, the important is, you were willing to try!

This year was the start of many new challenges for you. One of them was learning to be responsible for your own learning.

Remember the first few spelling tests? I had to remind you almost every day, to spend some time looking through the list of words. I told you that as long as you spend a little time on the words every day, you wouldn’t have to worry about not learning the words well.

Initially, you were not too happy that you had to practice writing the words 10 times each, and you were grumpy whenever I asked you to do that. However, when you started seeing the results, getting 10/10 for your spelling tests week after week, you realised what I said about learning was true. By the end of February, you stopped grumbling about learning your spelling words and made your own efforts to learn. Sometimes, I didn’t even have to remind you.

We had some rough times with homework, because you were slow in completely your work. Sometimes, you would come home with schoolwork that you didn’t manage to complete in class. I was upset with you because I knew that you were busy chatting with your friends, and so you didn’t manage to finish the work when you were supposed to. But can I tell you a little secret? To be honest, I was like you when I was in primary one.

Your form teacher helped us to see a bright side of your lack of speed in doing work. She told us that even though you were slow in doing your work, you were actually very careful and meticulous. In fact, you were so good with the details that you once spotted a mistake in a school test paper before the teachers did!

Having said that, I really pray that you will learn to focus better and pick up speed in completing your work. All too often, I tell you at home that if you had focused, you would have finished your work in half the time you spent. I know you love your stationery, but please don’t play with them while doing homework. We will work on this together this holiday, okay?

Other than being easily distracted and being a little too slow in completing your work, you got the hang of your studies pretty fast. For a child who does not attend tuition classes (remember how you even asked our neighbour what tuition is?), nor extra assessment books at home (because Papa and I don’t see the need to load you with extra work), you have done extremely well! In fact, there was even one term where you were the only one in class who scored full marks for both your English and Math mini tests!

Papa and I know that you were disappointed that you eventually didn’t win any awards, but you know what? It really doesn’t matter to us at all. We know that you have tried your best and you have done well.

One of my most favourite moments of this year was when Papa and I went to your school on your birthday and I presented you with flowers. You were so happy that firstly, Papa was able to fetch you from school, and secondly, we gave you flowers! Oh what a day that was!

I’m thankful that I get to fetch you from school every day, because you never fail to share with me about your day. As we drive from your school to your brother’s school, you would tell me what you ate during recess, who you talked to and sat with, and about the significant things you remember from your time in school. Because of how much you share with me, I get to know more about you and your friends.

Friends form a very important part of your life, and because none of your Kindergarten friends are with you in this new school, you had to make new friends.

In this one year, you went through ups and downs with your friends, and you would share them with me. Through the ups and downs, I explained to you that there were things you did well, like being kind and compassionate to your friends. There were also things that you experienced and didn’t enjoy, like when your friends said mean things to you. You were particularly upset about certain incidents, and I sat down with you and talked things through with you.

Because you are a very sensitive child, you cried easily in class whenever someone teased you or said mean things to you. Remember Phoebie, it is okay to get upset because we all have feelings. What is important though, is what we do after we are upset. Does it help if we stay upset for too long? What can we do to make things better, and make ourselves feel better?

Not every person you meet will think about your feelings before they speak to you, and not everyone will remember that you are fragile.

At the same time, because you know what it feels like when people say awful or unkind words to you, I pray that you will remember to be considerate and kind in your own words when you speak to others.

We took this photo on the morning of the last day of school. We were both happy, knowing that after this, I will turn off my morning alarms for the next six weeks, and we can all sleep in at home with Breyen.

As we end the school term, I pray you think about how far you have come in this one year, how much you have learnt and grown, and how blessed you have been. Going to a new environment is not easy, but you embraced it right from the start and adapted quickly.

I want you to know, Phoebie, that Papa and I are super proud of you.

Not only have you grown in school, but you have grown at home too. You have become a more understanding sister who tries to accommodate her little brother. You also stand up for him if you realise that your friends are laughing at him. You have learnt to speak more, whine less, and be patient. You have learnt that you don’t always get what you want, and that it is okay. You have learnt that you can be brave to apologise even if the person may ignore you, and that it doesn’t hurt to say sorry more than once.

Most importantly, you have learnt that you don’t have to be the best everything you do, and that what matters most is that you give it your best shot and never give up.

While some parents are not looking forward to school holidays because it means having to find things to occupy the children, I’m actually looking forward to the school holidays.

Phoebie, I can’t wait to spend more time with you and your brother. Let’s think of all the things we can do together and have a good holiday!

Mama loves you!