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February 18, 2019

Parents should admit their shortcomings

Sometimes as a parent, it’s good to admit your shortcomings. Instead of making excuses, it does no harm to review your failings, learn from them and make a deliberate decision to avoid the same pitfall next time.

I say this in reference to this couple who were honest enough to make this admission. Last November, they wanted to transfer their daughter to a new school since they had moved homes and therefore needed to identify a school that was nearer to their new abode for convenience purposes. And they did find a good school — one of the most coveted in the neighbourhood. They then ensured that their daughter was punctual on the date of the interview, which was a requirement for all pupils prior to admission. The girl, aged five, was set to join pre-unit.

She sat for the interview, and when her parents asked how it went, she replied that it ‘was okay’. The parents were confident that she would pass.

Only that when the results were released, her results were not clear. She had scored a ‘Y’ grade. This puzzled the parents very much.

“I mean, I know my daughter is bright, disciplined and honest. So what does a ‘Y’ grade mean? That she cheated? Can a preschooler really cheat in an exam,” her father wondered, before he and his wife sought audience with the school administration over her confusing score.

But what the Principal revealed to them completely surprised them.

“Your daughter attended the interview, but she did not write anything — not even her name. She did not answer any question despite our encouragement for her to do so,” the Principal said.

She added that the teachers had tried their best to talk to the little girl, making her feel comfortable and relaxed before writing her answers, but for 40 minutes, she refused and simply sat with her hands folded across her chest, pouting her lips. She didn’t even bother to look at the questions. When asked why, she simply told her examiners: “You are not teacher Consolata!”

Apparently, teacher Consolata was her teacher in her previous school. She was not going to take instructions from anyone else but teacher Consolata.

This stunned her parents. They had not seen it coming. Even when they asked their daughter about it, she repeated the same thing — she only takes academic instructions from teacher Consolata, no one else.

And that incident taught her parents a great lesson: they had not prepared their daughter for the interview.

“In my mind, I knew that she would automatically pass. Our daughter has always topped her class, so it did not worry us even one bit that she might not pass,” said the parents, both of whom are medical doctors.

But what they did not do is prepare the child for this activity. They didn’t help her understand the rationale behind moving to a new school, the new environment, as well as the making new friends and teachers. They didn’t explain to her that she would need to be examined before she joined a new school, and that a new set of teachers would conduct the interview.

“We just assumed that she was too little to understand anything and just ambushed her. Well, we only have ourselves to blame for how things turned out. Now we know better. It is only fair that we should have prepared her and not assumed things,” the couple admitted.

They tried speaking to the school head to give their daughter a second chance, even showing her previous term’s impressive school grades, but it was not possible to get the child into the school. All slots had been taken up by pupils who had correctly filled out their answers and who therefore earned their deserved spots.

They had to settle their daughter in another school, even as they continually call their preferred school hoping that there will soon be a vacancy for their daughter.

The writer is a motherhood blogger at


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