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 One day of early November, Jiajia (Chua Jin Sen’s nickname) came home with his school report book.

“How was your result?” I asked Jiajia when he handed me his report book.

“Good,” he answered without hesitation.

“Really? In what way?”

“I got improvement.”

“Well done,” I smiled.

Jiajia had a cumulative score of 152/300 for his 3 school subjects: Math, English and Chinese.

To some Kiasu Singaporean parents, 252 points might not even be good enough, let alone 152.

However, Jiajia wasn’t worried when he came home. He was his usual self, chirpy and chatty. After all, he’d improved from a cumulative total of 132.6 marks in his mid-year results to 152 marks in his finals.

He was praised for his improvement.

Nonchalantly, Jiajia dashed off to play Lego with his two sisters, leaving his old man in the living room to admire the results showing in his report book.

As parents of four marvellous kids, my wife and I are tired of being Kiasu parents. So we don’t expect a dyslexic child in Primary 1 to perform outstandingly in his studies.

Being dyslexic, Jiajia is a slow starter when it comes to his school works; he has to spend a lot more time than his peers, maybe 200% more, in order to achieve 70% of their results. So you can imagine he could easily become frustrated and lose his confidence if we were to raise the bar too high for him to reach.

Life is like a Marathon. Pushing our child too hard at the start of the race will most likely wear him out and make him lose interest in his studies. Nothing could be worse than killing a child’s interest in learning. We would rather see him making baby steps and consistently showing improvements.

jiajia2Lately Jiajia has a rather busy schedule. Since August this year, his brother (Chua Jin Chou, better known as BigBro) and him have been invited twice to the Istana. Once by our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, for a tea session in August and the second time by our President, Mr Tony Tan, for the President's Challenge Thank You Reception 2012 in October. Such recognitions from our country leaders have certainly help boost his confidence.

Jiajia is not at all shy when it comes to meeting the big shots, shaking their hands and conversing casually with them.

Not many 7 year old get the opportunity to speak on stage to a cheering crowd of two hundreds. But Jiajia did just that in November when he and his brother were invited by the Halogen Foundation to present a 15 minutes speech at the Events for Youths: National Primary Young Leaders' Day. As their parents, we were anxious and weren’t sure if the boys could handle the crowd, especially for Jiajia. Although he has not been assessed, we have always suspected him to be an ADHD boy. He cannot concentrate well for a long period of time (long being 5 minutes). So trying to get him stay focused on stage for 15 minutes without us around, the result could be pretty dicey.

jiajia3However, Jiajia showed no fear to take the stage with his brother, even though BigBro was a little nervous. Perhaps Jiajia knows too little to worry.

The two brothers eventually took up the challenge and broke the ice with the familiar Singlish greeting: “Hosehbo?!”

They nailed it beautifully and the day ended with them busy signing autograph for a long line of kids.

Performing on stage wasn’t new to Jiajia. He was one of the children who performed in the DAS Gala Dinner 2012 in August. He also went around from table to table to raise money for DAS. Every table he went, Jiajia would ask the well-dressed guests to buy the charity tickets ($50 each) from him. He would smile and pose for the cameras. A generous Caucasian man bought 19 tickets from him.

jiajia4A few months ago, there was a cancer patient who stumbled upon the Dr Jiajia and BigBro’s YouTube channel. She told us she laughed till her eyes started to tear. She also mentioned the Singlish videos had helped her fight depression and reduced the pain she experienced in her chemotherapy.

Then something more amazing happened.

 

SingHealth approached us and wanted the kids’ videos to be made available at the waiting areas of all their hospitals. The annual visitor is estimated to be 3 million patients. Now more patients get to laugh till they tear. If you happen to visit one of the hospitals or clinics stated below, chances are you will catch Jiajia and BigBro in the TV.

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1) Singapore General Hospital

2) KK Women & Children’s Hospital

3) National Cancer Centre

4) National Neuroscience Institute

5) National Dental Centre of Singapore

6) National Heart Centre

7) Singapore National Eye Centre

8) all the 9 SingHealth Polyclinics

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Jiajia acted in a movie alongside Mark Lee and Gurmit Singh. The movie, Taxi! Taxi!, will be shown in Singapore cinemas on 3 January 2013 and in Malaysia’s on 31 January 2013.

Jiajia sang the movie’s theme song with the casts and participated in the music video. Although he had a hard time remembering the lyrics, never once did he back down. If you watch the Taxi! Taxi! music video in their YouTube channel, you will notice Jiajia was having a great time laughing. To Jiajia, he was just having fun; and that’s the beauty of it all. Having fun.

Popularity could potentially be short-lived. So while Jiajia is still popular with his supporters, we hope he gets to act in a heart-rending movie about a dyslexic child facing all sort of pressures coming from his school, family and society. We hope this opportunity will miraculously open up to him and he can play his part to help to raise the awareness of dyslexia to the public.

We would love to see Jiajia grow up to be a happy “C” student with the five “C” values deeply entrenched in him; curiosity, creativity, courage, commitment to his goals and compassion.

We hope the flame of curiosity and hunger for knowledge will stay strong in him. He will embrace creativity in his works and come out with innovative answers to the complex problems surrounding us. We hope he will find the courage to stay committed to his goals under the discouraging stares of the skeptics. Lastly, we hope Jiajia will always be compassionate, ready to lend his ear, to empathize with others and to help the people around him.

In our views, these five “C” will benefit him and our society more in a long run than him being an A student per se.

“Do I get any reward?” Jiajia asked, looking at me with his eager eyes. Not many Singaporean kids would make such a bold request given that he only marginally crossed 150 points.

“Of cos’, dad will get you a present,” I answered, stealing another look at his report book.

Last week, Jiajia received his present, a remote control helicopter, and all for a good reason: Jiajia has shown improvement in his schoolwork.

“Good job my son. Dad is so proud of you.”

 

By Mr Chua (Dr Jiajia’s Father or “Big Dad”)

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