Tough Love


I just watched Ender’s Game.

As I drove home from Kuala Selangor, I reflected back on the drama happened this morning. And how the movie somehow resonates the dilemma of leadership.

*Names and subjects are changed as this story is just about the lesson within it, not to shame the person*

Today was a working day for me, as it will until Friday.

As I walked along the corridor towards the office, Boss beckons me towards him. PK 1 was leaning in and whispering as they watched me walked towards them.

Erkk. Was it my jeans?

She ushered me in the office, to see a woman with a student sitting on the waiting area. She looks familiar..

“Yes?” ” I’m A’s mother….”

Aaa..yes. ” …. I want to talk to you and the Boss about my child’s grade”

I smiled. Here we go again. Everytime the end of the year result’s are out.

She started to comment on something I cannot disclose here due to professional courtesy. Lengthy words of frustation of a mother, of whom I feel she has high hopes and feels her child deserves more. And how unfair the constitution did not reward her daughter publicly on Prize-Giving Day and her class teacher (read ; me), had ‘downgraded’ her child into the second class.

” Cikgu (-cikgu?) tak adil! Pilih kasih!!  Anak saya dapat banyak A tapi satu hadiah pun tak dapat!! ( The teacher/s  is unfair!  My daughter gets a lot of A’s but she did’nt get any prize!!)

I explained that although her daughter did get A’s, but there are more deserving students to get the prizes.

Clearly my reasonings, then my PK1 , and my colleague reasoning will not dampen her feeling of unsatisfied.

“Kalau macam ni, saya tak maulah bayar duit yuran, rugi jer… Asyik dapat kat orang lain jer..zaman dulu semua yang dapat A dapat hadiah” ( If this is the case, I don’t want to pay the school fees, just a waste of money.. its always other students getting the prizes. Before, all A students got prizes).

We stopped talking when the statement landed.

At this point, I hid my smiling mouth as I can’t believe the mother is actually sulking now. The more reasoning made her more animatedly angry.

” Rasa tak payahlah sekolah ni baca Yasin setiap hari Jumaat. Baca Asma-UlHusna jer. Tak ikhlas. Orang tak ikhlas ni ‘panas’ bila baca Yasin..” ( Don’t bother reciting the Yaseen every Friday. Just recite the Asma UlHusna.  You people are insincere. Reciting Yasin will ‘bother’ the insincere people..”)

At this point, I actually got up, said my excuse to my PK1 and the mother and left, because I was due to present a report and this is clearly going nowhere.

I heard as I left: the mother said ; ” Jangan pusing cerita. Saya tak puas hati ni. Saya nak jumpa GB. Kalau macam ni baik tukar sekolah jer ( Don’t twist the story. I’m not satisfied. I want to see your boss. Maybe my daughter should just change school)

My  PK1 replied; ” Takpalah Puan. Terpulang. Kalau nak borang, sila ambil pada kerani sekolah yer..” ( It’s up to you madam. The forms are with the clerk).

Hours after the presentations ended, I got a call in the meeting room. The mother had sign all the forms and asking for the personal files.

As I handed all the files, I looked at her older, other daughter in Year 5. ” Dia pindah jugak ker, kalau pindah jugak nak cari fail..?” ( Is she changing school too, cause I can help you find the files?).

I was being ironic of course. But oh so politely.

The mother was clearly subdued and smiled sheepishly. ” Tak.. adik die jer..” (No, just her little sister..”.

“Okay, so jangan lupa bagi fail-fail ni kat sekolah baru. Kirim salam kat A yer, tak sempat jumpa dia lagi..”.( Don’t forget to give these files at the new school. Send my love to her cause I have’nt got the chance to say goodbye..”)

A beat of a second. ” Terima kasih cikgu, kerana pernah ajar anak saya..” (Thank you for teaching my daugher.”

I smiled. I dont know what kind of smile. Tired? Stressed? Gladness?

A leader needs to know which battle are worth fighting for. Sometimes the choices are not the popular ones. You know you have to make a decision as a whole, for the whole.

People will hate you. Not a great feeling.

Different thank you-s in two days.

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