How are you? Friday…here we are! Over the past few weeks I have been reading messages on social networking sites and newspapers about exams, results, stress, fear, triumph, good wishes, excitement, expectations, boards (Matriculation, GCSE, A levels) career and a few more high frequency words. Just like you, I have been there, hence I know what everyone is talking about. This post is dedicated to all of you who have been through the stress and to the parents whose kids have taken board exams or going to take one in the coming years. To all the parents whose dreams are getting fulfilled through their kids and to all the parents whose kids could not rise up to the expectations. Let me take you back to your exam day. Do you remember the day of your first board exam?
Let me tell you about the day of my first board exam. It was a beautiful sunny day, the centre where I had my exam was engulfed by a storm of students (obviously), parents and an air of anxiety. It’s not exactly anxiety. I correct myself, it was an air of nervousness and excitement. After all you have prepared for so long and it was ‘the judgement day’ for that subject! It was lovely to see all my friends after the study break, however each one of us had our parents guarding us with the last minute revision notes. So, apart from a quick ‘hi’, customary ‘how’s your preparation?’, ‘have you done that part?’, we did not talk much. All of us were waiting for the sound of the school bell. After that, it was the time for the blessings, last minute guidance to read the question paper, ‘all the best’, motivation, prayers and the dance of the umpteen butterflies in your stomach. Suddenly, it was all hush-hush and quiet, leaving behind the parents with all kinds of speculations. Their faces awaited to see the width of our smiles because it would act as a mirror to determine if our paper was ok, good, very good or excellent! I have painted the picture, just to take you back to that atmosphere.
How was it? Was it a similar sort of experience for you? How many times have you thought of that day? Or rather, have you ever given any thoughts about your board exams? I haven’t done that at all. I searched for that memory because I have seen so many heartfelt messages by students over the past few weeks. Be it a student from India, UK, USA, or any part of the world, the emotions are no different. At the time when you fail to stand up to the bar set up by the aunties, teachers, relatives and you are being compared to your best friend or ‘not so’ best friend, you will doubt yourself and feel down. Because of your age at that time, you wouldn’t even realise that it’s ok and in the long run, it’s not going to be of any significance in the beautiful worth-living life. But due to self doubt and the pressures to do well in exams, you might find yourself lost. End of the world situation for you or the people around you might make you feel like that. As a parent, as a person going through those emotions, what could you do to cut down the negativity. People talk about living in the ‘now’, but it’s so shameful, so embarrassing, so frustrating that living in the now is a facade. ‘How could you do that? So and so has done it, why couldn’t you? A little bit of attention and you could have reached there’. I’m sure that you have heard them at some point in your lifetime or have told your kids off with something along the similar lines. It’s quite natural to act like that because of the emotional attachment with your child. I have done it myself. Yes, even to my seven year old. Little things such as ‘why is it taking so long for you to do that?’ Unintentionally, we ourselves, introduce them to the concepts of ‘fear’ and ‘pressure’.
Doing well is a great feeling but again it’s a thought and it doesn’t last for life. ‘Doing well’ and ‘not doing well’ depend on how you take them. The children who have worked really hard, have burnt the midnight oil, must enjoy the moment because it’s a great feeling and for a moment the limelight is on you. Please take a bow and enjoy all the attention. However, in your mind, tell yourself to move on to the next challenge. The feeling of doing well is just a thought and so don’t dwell on it for too long. Because in the long run, it would be a small chapter and the book is far more interesting. I know so many people who haven’t done that well in the board exams and whose parents have poured in the wrath of their emotions to the child. And at that time, it might appear that there cannot be any room for improvement for that child. It might appear to be the end of the road for the child but if you take a step back and reflect on it, it’s nothing compared to the wealth of opportunities and knowledge awaiting in the school of life. Today when I look back, I am so happy to see that pretty much everyone is doing well. The important thing is to learn to keep going and learn from the mistakes (some of yours and some from the others), teaching your child the ability to stand up for themselves and the ability to fight back and a mighty heart to ask questions. If your child has not done well, let them work harder and not dwell on it by feeling sorry for themselves. There is something for everyone provided you are prepared to work hard and persist on it long enough.