Prior to entering the 6th grade, all 5th graders were required to take a math placement test. The incoming batch of 10 to 11 year olds were grouped into two categories: advanced math and regular math.
As a 10 year old, I placed in regular math. As a 10 year old, I was relieved. Truth be told, I hated math. I sat inside alone many a recces in the fourth grade on account of math. My math homework of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division worksheets took me too long to do at home, subsequently, I would ignore them. Ignoring math makes it go away. All 10 year olds know that. Math was boring and time consuming, and as far as I knew I was not good at it.
My relief of placing in regular math was, however, short lived. With a couple phone calls to the school administration, my mother saw to it that I was in advanced math upon entering middle school. I remember thinking, why!? I didn’t even pass the test…how will I survive.
“You are good at math” Mom didn’t rely on a school administered test to indicate my abilities in math. “You are good at math” she would tell me, despite my perceived inability to do simple division and multiplication. “You are good at math” Mom would say, ignoring all the signals that I wasn’t.
Mom was right. Math quickly became a subject in which I excelled. The older I got, there were times when math was the only subject in which I excelled. I went on to study engineering in college. Sometimes I struggled, but Mom always insisted, “You are good at math”.
There are countless things my mom has done throughout my life to empower and encourage me, challenge and inspire me. Lately I’ve been thinking about this example. Mom always believed in me and pushed me when I was too young and didn’t know how to believe in myself. I was too young to see beyond missing recess and results from a placement test.
Happy Birthday, Mom! I’m everything I am because you loved me.