The end of an era

United Square.

Those of you who are my Facebook friends or Twitter followers would have come across this place before in my posts, mainly because I used to rant about it on a regular basis. My children were a part of the tuition machine there, attending Math and Science classes at one of those highly priced places that parents queue up to get their kids into, and that we could barely afford, but felt it was necessary in the last two years of our kids’ primary school stint so that they at least had a fighting chance of clearing the dreaded national examination. Despite my training and experience as a teacher, I had no patience with the rote learning and low level testing that the exam involves, and I confess that the machinations of the syllabus leading up to the exam were completely beyond my comprehension. And so when my kids suggested that they could attend these classes because their schoolmates had been doing so for years, I caved, even though I had serious misgivings about throwing my hat into the ring of  educational commodification.

But this post is not about the tuition centre or the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination). It’s about United Square. A place where I had to spend hours over the last few years while waiting for one kid or the other to exit a class, and sometimes to enter the next one. What does one do when one has to wait for so long? Like other parents, I was sucked into spending money in stores (Esprit has GREAT clothes, by the way), restaurants (Bakerzinn serves a mean latte) and personal service establishments (I have never been able to resist a good foot massage. Now you know the way to my heart).

Then I discovered Nail Addiction. And after that, I had regular manicures and pedicures- once every two weeks. My perfectly groomed nails were symbols of my homemaker status, flashing at me as I drove my kids around, protected in gloves as I did dishes and made beds. When I started teaching again, there were observant students who noticed the nails. One even commented on them on my Facebook page! Nail Addiction – an establishment where they provide the most wonderful nail services I have ever experienced – became my escape away from the noisy music, raucous kids and uncomfortable seats in the mall. The manicurists (nail therapists? I have no idea what they are called) are professional, polite and friendly. They really seem to know what they are doing. Such attention to detail! And the manicures last ages because of the careful way in which they are done. I was very quickly persuaded into buying a package, and it was only on alternate weeks that I had to brave the sensory attacks of United Square. I would have had a manicure every week if the good ladies there had not been worried enough about my nails to point out that weekly manicures were not healthy for them!

But it’s over now. No more United Square (at least not with the same regularity and frequency as before). No more dodging badly behaved kids (other people’s. Of course!), no more horribly blaring mall music or deafening kids’ shows in the atrium. My kids have outgrown not only tuition classes, but the need for me to ferry them around and wait for them as well. Nail Addiction still has $30 of my last package with them, and are probably waiting for me to come in again so that they can convince me to top it up. But I have decided that they deserve to keep that money. I have no need to camp out in that horrid mall, and no time to go there just for the sake of vanity.

It’s the end of an era, my friends, and my nails will just have to suffer in silence.

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