By Tanu Shree Singh
Here’s a letter to the children, on behalf of all moms.
I know there would be times when you would want to run away. When I would seem the devil and the world a burning hell. When the race gets too much and you have recurring dreams of turning up for the wrong exam or writing sheets after sheets only for answers to vanish. You would wake up with a start. When you do, come to me. Give a hug. Get one.
We might argue about your methods, and you might see frowns crease my forehead worrying about your exams sometime. But both of us need to remember all the time, it is just an exam. ‘Boards,’ ‘finals,’ ‘the deciding years’ – these are just words. Do not work hard under the weight of these words. Work hard because that is what we do. Not out of fear of failure but out of a bid to give your best. Exams do not define you. Your success doesn’t either. Neither does any failure. It is how we respond to all these situations, that makes us who we shall become. So stop being harsh on yourself.
Don’t be afraid of making a mistakes. What is better — a pretty spotless piece of paper or a sheet out of your notebook that has been furiously scribbled on, words scratched out, others highlighted? Make those scratches, crumple up a few sheets, tear others, it is okay. While you write your story, there would be many edits. As long as you are willing to learn, willing to change, willing to edit, your story will shine.
Don’t let ‘what ifs’ pull you down. They have a dark power of drowning perfectly good swimmers. When they start whispering, ask yourself, “What is the worst outcome?” Failure? Poor marks? People looking at you strangely because of that? Know this: no report card can change my love for you. Also, people who seem to bother you so much, do not matter in the bigger scheme of things. Yes, there is always a larger plan. The only way to set that plan in motion is to keep working hard, despite the result, despite the fall. Just be relentless.
When you fall, get up. Dust your clothes. Take a breather. Feel the gratitude for the life you have, for the world you can experience. Caught your breath? Get moving again. Do not wallow. Do not let the wounds fester. Accept the bruises and learn from your mistakes. Remember the Super Mario game I introduced you to? You would get to a certain level, lose and start over? Well, that’s life. Every once in a while, you would fall in a pit or hit the wall. It is time to reset, learn from your errors and get to the next level.
Preboards will end soon and Boards will start. You might know all the answers at times and at times you would draw a complete blank. It is okay. Deep breathe. And surround yourself with love. Our love. Your love. Let that love help you stand again. The answers you did not know, do not hold the power to throw your life in a pit of darkness. They do not define you. All they do is tell you to change your war-strategy.
So what do you do then? Throwing away the pressure doesn’t mean putting your feet up and relaxing! Keep walking. The tide will push you back. But keep marching on. There will be days that every muscle in your body will tell you to give up. Call out to me. I will help you. There is no tide that together we can’t defeat. But don’t stop. Don’t go under. Don’t let the tide wash you away.
I will be there for you. Like a tiger mom. Not the urban kind. The wild kind – watching her cubs, letting them stumble and putting them all in line once in a while. Parents come with a faulty gene. It makes them fall head over heels in love with their children. Academic success or failure has no influence on the workings of this gene. It continues to love. And my faulty gene makes sure I am by your side. Forever. All you need to do is march ahead.
So promise me that you will come to me. When the world seems dark, you will let me hold up a candle for you. When it feels like the end, you would believe me when I tell you that it’s a new beginning. When all hope seems to have flown away, you will allow me to open the window for the dreams waiting outside. Promise me you’ll let me be there for you. Promise me that you’ll let life leave cracks in you. Promise me not to break.
PS: Do not go all smart on me and say, ‘since exam results do not matter, can I please skip?’ We still are a part of the system. And exams are a part of it. So while I refuse to let exams make a sacrificial lamb out of you, the monster will have to be tamed eventually!
(The writer has a PhD in Positive Psychology and is a lecturer in psychology. She is also the author of the book Keep Calm and Mommy On.)