SINGAPORE - Hours before we were due to leave for a road trip to Malaysia, seven-year-old Jason's Chinese-language teacher called to remind us about a test that would take place the following week.
"The marks for this test will be counted at the end of the year, so please make sure he studies for it," said Miss T. I was so surprised by her call in the middle of the September holidays that I managed to only mumble "thanks" before she hung up.
And so, his Primary 1 Chinese textbook went into our luggage, on top of his Monopoly board game.
I'm not sure who was more disgruntled: Jason, at the fact that he had to study during the holidays, or me, upon hearing about tests that "count" when there was supposed to be no exams in Primary 1.
Either way, there was no point brooding over it.
We had fun during the day, playing by the beach and visiting an ostrich farm where we sampled some chewy ostrich satay, and squeezed in about 30 minutes of revision each night.
There were tears and tantrums the first night, but it got better on subsequent nights. I supposed it was a matter of getting used to the routine, as with many things this year.
The year has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. It has passed in a flash, complete with its highs (his newfound independence) and lows (struggle with Chinese). There were moments of exhilaration and exhaustion. But while I had wondered how my happy-go-lucky son with his devil-may-care attitude would cope in the Big School, I found out that when it comes to the crunch, he will do what it takes.
Thankfully, homework days at his neighbourhood school are few and far in between, especially compared to kids in well-known schools that I've heard of.
Chinese was and still is the subject he finds the most challenging. But he did come home last week bearing a gift from Miss T.