On the day the CBSE Class X results were announced, Vandana Katoch posted a message on Facebook. It was meant to congratulate her son, who had struggled with Maths, Science and Hindi, and to reiterate to him that he had indeed done well. “This is just to tell my kid Mama’s super proud, considering where you were in January. He pushed himself against himself to be here,” she says.
- “Super proud of my boy who scored a 60% in Class 10 board exams. Yes it is not a 90, but that doesn't change how I feel. Simply because I have seen him struggle with certain subjects almost to the point of giving up, and then deciding to give his all in the last month-and-a-half to finally make it through! Here's to you, Aamer. And others like you - fishes asked to climb trees. Chart your own course in the big, wide ocean, my love. And keep your innate goodness, curiosity and wisdom alive. And of course, your wicked sense of humour!”
Katoch took to social media, also to tell him that she didn’t believe marks made a person or his life: “I’ve seen enough of life to know that.” Within 24 hours, the post was shared over 1,000 times. Now, 48 hours later, there are about 724 comments and over 2,600 people have shared it.
She didn’t expect it. Nor did she imagine the kind messages that came her way, or the comments on the post, several parents supporting her. One message read: “You are a breath of fresh air to most parents cringing under the pressure to create a perfect child.” There were of course those who did not agree, with another message saying: “That is not good parenting...”
Her son, after he got his marks in school, felt there wasn’t anything to be proud about, when she picked him up from the bus stop. “I had to remind him about the mountain he’d just climbed, and that he shouldn’t compare. Everybody’s journey is different,” says Katoch. On her own journey, the mum met a fellow mother whose son had dropped out of school and was a successful photographer. Conversations with her son helped. “Eventually, he came to me and said, ‘Let’s just do this, and get it out of the way,’.” And he did.
Unfortunately, parents whose kids don’t get the marks are always on the back foot, never speaking out. “It’s because somewhere parents believe it’s a reflection of their own selves and no one wants to look bad. It’s a feeling that ‘I didn’t work hard enough with him.’ There’s shame associated with it,” she says.
While Vasant Valley, the Delhi-based school Aamer, her son, is in, has been supportive, a number of children aren’t so lucky. The system itself is skewed to benefit children who learn a particular way. Boards need to work with a broad base of parents, to bring about a systemic change, feels Katoch.
Already in Class XI, Aamer now has subjects that he enjoys: Sociology, Psychology, History and Political Science, besides English.