SINGAPORE - She wakes up at 2am every day to prepare for her noodle stall and gets home at 9pm.
Constantly on her feet in front of a hot stove, she has only one rest day a month.
Madam Lee Saw Ping, 46, wanted her three daughters to know the value of hard work. From a young age, she made them help out at the stall after school and every weekend too.
Madam Lee's tough love worked.
Yesterday, her oldest child, Serangoon Garden Secondary student Lee Kai Ying, 17, received her O-level results and did well enough to qualify for her dream course in polytechnic.
She scored 15 points for L1B4 (language and four best subjects).
In Singapore's best showing in at least 20 years, 83.3 per cent of students who took the O-level examinations last year scored five passes or more.
Kai Ying's twin, Kai Jun, is pursuing business in the polytechnic foundation programme which she qualified for with her good N-levels results last year.
The twins have a younger sister, 14, and they take turns helping out at the stall.
Their parents have been running the popular noodle stall, selling wonton mee and shredded chicken hor fun at Block 631, Hougang Avenue 8, for 19 years. They live in a five-room flat nearby.
The punishing job has taken a toll on their father, Mr Frederick Lee, 45, who is now unable to keep the long hours because of back pain. Madam Lee said that her daughters are self-starters.
"I depend on them a lot. Although it hurts to see them work so hard, it's good for them to suffer a bit.
"They need to know the importance of studying hard and that it is not easy to earn a living," she said in Mandarin.
Kai Ying said: "Of course, we want to go out and play but I can't bear to see my mother and grandmother, who is already 69, with no one to help them."
She usually spends up to three hours a day at the stall and up to eight hours on weekends.
This meant less time for studying, hanging out with friends and sleeping-in during the weekends, lamented Kai Ying, who enjoys online games and exercising.
But she never gave up on her studies.
While preparing for her O levels, the normal academic student cut back on her time at the stall to an hour a day after school.