[Review] The Good, The Bad & The PSLE: Trials of an Almost Kiasu Mother

Monica’s blog has been 1 of my regular reads.  I am always keen to read about educational topics of which she often pens.  

When I got to know of her first book launch – The Good, The Bad & The PSLE: Trials of an Almost Kiasu Mother, I know I had to read it.  Indeed, I am thankful that I was given 1 to read & share a review.

I had thought that this book is all about how a parent helping her child aced the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).  I mean, doesn’t the title of the book suggest that?  Though AJ will only go through PSLE 5 years later, this Kiasu mom is not slacking in information gathering.  Anything relating to educational issues that may affect AJ will be within my radar. 

But, I was wrong.  This book records the journey of a mom coping with 2 primary school-going children over a span of 3 years, starting from the happy-go-lucky son going into Primary 1 & the bright daughter in Primary 4.  The entire book was filled with hilarious episodes that kept me laughing & giggling whenever I read it.  AJ was so curious why his mom kept on laughing & giggling that he even took over the book when I finished reading it.  Yes, he too enjoys reading it.  He never fails to share with his father, who has yet to read it, the funny jokes that Noah (the son in the book) cracked & Noah’s hilarious exchanges with his mom, sister & classmate Summer.

Here are some interesting exchanges:

Noah came back home from school ... …

He wailed, “I hate Summer!  She always makes fun of me.  She even made up a song about me & got her friends to sing it!”
“What kind of song?”
In between tears & hiccups, Noah said mournfully, “Noah Tan, rambutan, buys a dress from Isetan.”

Noah was sitting for a pre-entry test to a tuition centre … …

Half an hour later, he emerged with a furrowed brow. 
“Mummy, what is ‘aftermath’?”
“They asked you that?”  I startled.  “It means the result of something that happened.”
“Oh,” he replied, looking disappointed.
“Why? What did you write?”
“I wrote ‘PE’.”

Noah just had his Chinese Listening Comprehension Exam & he told his mom he was 3rd in class as he had scored 8/10 … …

Me: “You mean no one scored 10/10?”
Noah: Have, a few got 10/10.”
Me (nonplussed): “Huh? Then how did you get 3rd?”
Noah: “A few got 10, some got 9.  I’m the only one who got 8. One other boy got 7.”
Me *facepalm*: “Alamak, so you weren’t 3rd!”  You were 2nd last!!”

In case you thought this book is all about fun & jokes.  No.  The bright daughter didn’t fare very well in her PSLE.  By that I mean she didn’t score according to the expectations of both the mom & the daughter.  So there was a part towards the end of the book on how the duo handled this toughest part.  The daughter asked if the mom loves Noah more than her because Noah doesn’t have to do well in school & she still loves him.  The daughter felt that she always have to do well in school.  As a parent, how would you handle that?

This book is easy to read, filled with plenty of interesting episodes on crazy school work, school life, jittery parent-teacher meetings, tuitions, music lessons, family vacations, etc that any parent who has primary school-going children could associate with.  I enjoyed reading it very much.  I can see myself going through similar, if not the same, ‘trials’ described in the book.

I echo what Monica said in her book:

Our education system doesn’t allow kids to grow up at their own pace.  Nowadays, the pathways are defined earlier & earlier.  If they don’t do well in the PSLE, it means they can’t get into a top secondary school, & with the introduction of Integrated Programme, not getting into a top secondary school means their chances of getting into a top junior colleague & university later on have drastically shrunk.  Everything our kids do now has implications later on.  That’s why it’s better to be kiasu now than to regret later.

The Good, The Bad & The PSLE: Trials of an Almost Kiasu Mother is available in all major bookstores at S$17.90.  It is perfect for self or as a Christmas present to loved ones.

Coming up soon – AJ’s review on this book.  Stay tuned!

PS: Read about AJ's audio review on this book here.


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