A letter to my daughter on the first day of her board exams

My dearest daughter, 

I cannot believe that time has passed so fast. Just yesterday we dropped you for your first day at kindergarten and with what seems like a blink of an eye, today you start with your class 12 Board exam!  School days are getting over! There is so much that I want to share with you. Though there is a lot of pressure around the Board exams, I am not feeling concerned about the outcome. I say this with confidence because I have watched your preparation with total awe and admiration. And this made me realise that what has happened in the last few months is far more important than what marks you score.       

 I have been bowled over by the qualities and skills you have shown in this time leading up to the exam. I admit that there were moments of doubt and worry but overall, I have seen how you have stood up to this challenge. 

 I am sharing some things about you which I observed over the past few months. As you walk in to the exam hall today, I want you to remember these things about yourself: 

  • Hard work and dedication to the task at hand. It isn’t easy to put in the long hours of work which you have done. Hard work and grit are qualities we don't speak enough about, and I really want you to appreciate yourself for developing these. 

  • Engagement - It was a pleasure to see you enjoy the subjects you have chosen and study them with interest. When you like what you do you, we know you will look forward to each day in your life. 

  • Planning and time management – The study time tables, endless post- it notes, keeping to the schedules you made for yourself- All this will stand you in good stead in the years ahead. We often complain about technology and think it’s a waste of time,  but I was happy to see how you found ways to use it to help you - using apps which rewarded you for the number of hours you didn't use your phone and even meditation and exercise apps!

  • Determination – I know there were times when you felt really burnt out and just wanted to give up. Yet you pulled yourself together and persisted. 

  • Collaboration – I saw how you shared information and worked together with your classmates. Not viewing any of them as competitors but only thinking of how you could all help each other. What a beautiful ecosystem you all formed! 

  • Cheerfulness and calm- You showed the ability to manage the stress and be cheerful, rarely complaining about the task at hand. Taking on what was required of you with a positive attitude. It gives me an indicator of how prepared you are for the challenges life will throw at you.  

  • Balance- When you were younger, I used to worry at the way you stressed yourself and your body at exam time. Not sleeping enough or not eating the right things. I am pleasantly surprised to see how you are now able to think about keeping that balance, paying attention to what to eat and how much to exercise even while immersed in this preparation. I can see you struggle but you have been trying your best. 

The way I see it, the actual exam is over, and you have passed with flying colours.  The Board exam is just another stepping stone. Whatever you do in the future I know you have all the essential qualities and skills to approach life and tackle all kinds of situations. Now, that’s what I meant when I said that I am not concerned about the outcome.  

Often, we don’t see our own strengths and there are times in our life when it becomes difficult to remember them. Anytime in life you need a reminder of who you are, pick up this letter and read it! 

When I see you today, I feel a sense of confidence and peace with the knowledge that you are ready to take on the world…..  and rock!!      

With much love and pride, 

Your mother 

Author: Kesang Menezes is a certified Parent Educator with Parenting Matters, an organisation that promotes parents to build deeper connection within families.

 (Board exams are a dreaded time in our country as it determines so much of our children's future. It is obviously stressful for both parent and child. I wrote this letter with the realisation that we are often so focused on outcome that we forget to appreciate the process. Every child is different and may show different levels of hard work, concentration or motivation. And we don't realise that each of them is doing the best they can. We forget to acknowledge how far they have come. This letter was a reminder to myself that instead of adding to my  child's stress level with my expectations, it is important to support her by making her feel safe, confident and valued.)