Those of you who have read this blog for a while will be familiar with my periodic drama over school admissions. The latest ongoing crisis was Nene’s admission to primary school.

Our stress had eased somewhat after he gained admission to two schools. Of the schools he applied to and which we ended up going for the interview, he got into two out of three.  Yes, I applied to schools and didn’t even go to the interview because a) my nieces were in town that day and the school was far b) the school was far and we decided it was no longer worth the journey c) V decided it was too expensive and too far, you get the drift. The problem was I applied to a range of schools because when I was applying, I hadn’t made up my mind which school type (government funded, private but not international, or international) I wanted Nene to go to – partly because I’m indecisive but also partly because our financial status was not crystal clear at the time of application.

All this made more complicated by the fact that my top choice school – international but not crazy expensive (though more expensive than all our other choices) – would only schedule their interview in January after the deadlines for all the others. So we had to confirm and in one case pay for the place at the school because we didn’t know if Nene would get into our top school or not.

As time went by, I decided that I would forgo the government school place. It looks increasingly clear that barring a miracle, we will not be in Hong Kong after one year (sob!) and so I am not going to break my head on Nene surviving two subjects in Cantonese even though the cost saving (zero fees) would be great. Were we planning to stay in Hong Kong long term, this would have been my top choice.

So, it came down to the new English medium private school near our home and the further away, more expensive international school (our top choice). As the interview date at the latter drew nearer, I got more and more stressed out.

For one, I learnt that as I had suspected, the interview would involve reading and writing simple words and unfortunately, Nene was not there yet. In fact, over the Christmas holidays he seemed to have forgotten alphabets, never mind words.

So despite myself, I began doing a bit of practice with him everyday. And I must say, I am not the soul of patience, and the clock ticking down to the interview didn’t help. Nene also tended to fool around and do anything to get my to go, okay go play. I may have told my poor son “If you don’t learn, people will think you’re a dummy.” (Yeah, not proud of myself.) Later it dawned on me that I had let slip in my desperation that he needed to learn this for an interview, and that may have worked as a disincentive because he is scared of leaving his kindergarten and he knows his friends aren’t going to be at the same school.

V had to intervene on several occasions. He is hyper sensitive about this because as a child, he was least interested in thsi academic stuff and/or slow to pick it up and he would get yelled at or shamed and it put him off academics for life. I got it, but I’m like Nene is going to be in a worse situation if he doesn’t get into a decent school because I know my kid and the environment he needs (which is the opposite ironically of my own teaching methods).

Then, I scheduled a playdate in the week that Nene had the interview and he ended up falling sick and I had to reschedule, which thankfully the school was understanding about, though of course I was wondering if it would impact our chances. That gave me more time to prepare Nene though this might not have been a positive from his perspective.

Finally, the day dawned. V was able to come with me and we took Nene to the school where they made us wait in an office (and Nene asked, where are the other children?). He was then led by a teacher to another room somewhere far away, requiring him to climb stairs. There he took a test, then after what felt like an hour (supposedly 20 minutes) he was brought to the principal’s office where she had a chat with him before calling us in to tell us the results.

Which was basically that Nene had been accepted! Huzzah!

Of course, he hadn’t done excellently on the test. He could write one word (“cat” that I had drilled into him based on a tip from another parent) and was able to answer questions and knew the alphabet but not all the alphabet sounds (which he does know, but you cannot rely on a kid to always say, or at least my kid). He answered the principal’s questions well though. So yeah, he was in, and we were elated!

Nene, however, was not so pleased. Later that night he told me that he didn’t like the new school. “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s so grey,” he said. And it’s true. The school building is old and painted grey, and so are the uniforms, though the classrooms are cheerful and the kids seem happy there. “In my school, we have rainbows.”

My son. How poetic. What could I tell him?  Sadly, the world is not rainbows, or we don’t have the pot of gold required to obtain them, and maybe you’ll like the grey or see the rainbows there too?