My son once had academic problem in a university that resulted in the loss of a year making him spend five years for a four-year programme. Apart from the extra year, he had to go for summer make-up classes to write various examinations for different courses he failed in the second year for two consecutive sessions.

When he had his academic problem, he was able to hide it for one full year, floating from room to room until he was discovered by the school authority and was subsequently suspended from school.  It was a crushing moment for him and a great disappointment to every member of the family. For me, he lost time, money invested and more importantly betrayed our trust.  For him, he had a problem and he felt the best way he could solve it was to keep it away from his parents and siblings. Eventually, the bubble burst and he felt like his entire world had crumbled.

We were invited to the school to hold talks with the school authorities.  My wife and I decided to hide our pains and show him love to win his confidence. It was a time when he was most vulnerable, and we could have lost him totally if we had been hard on him or had mocked him for being a failure.

One day I took him to my bedroom and said I want to have a personal discussion with him. I brought out two eggs and placed them on a plate. One was a table tennis egg and the other was the egg of a chicken. I asked him whether he knew both eggs and he answered in the affirmative. I told him to pick the chicken egg and stone it against a wall. He was shocked, and he said it will break, but I insisted. He picked it up and stoned it against the hard floor. It broke immediately because of the impact.  I asked him to pick the other egg and do the same. He picked it up and stoned it against the floor and it bounced off the ground.

I told him the moral of the story is that both eggs met the same obstacle, one got broken and splashed on the floor while the other bounced off. I explained further that both eggs represent humans and the same thing happens to them when they meet obstacles, difficulties and challenges.

I asked him to choose what he wanted: an egg that gets broken when it meets challenges or a ball that bounces off its obstacles. I told him his present academic challenge was the floor. If he can overcome it, then he is a ball that bounces off obstacles after hitting a hard floor. If he fails, then he is the broken egg that splashes on the bare floor, meaning he failed because of his current challenges. He took a renewed determination which has since brought him excellent performance in his academic pursuits.

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