By Maridol Ranoa-Bismark
“Good evening, Chelo. This is Ben’s mom. Sorry to disturb you at this time but he has not replied to my message. May I call you?”
I sent this panicky text message at 11 p.m. and Chelo, my son’s friend, replied, “Yes Tita.”
After explaining my problem, Chelo must have sprung into action. She contacted her network of friends. My son, who is in his junior year at the University of the Philippines, was on the phone in no time at all! Sorry, he told me. He was in a dead spot at the debate tournament and didn’t get my message. But he’s fine and will be home in an hour or so. I went to sleep smiling, grateful to Chelo. She must have been a mom in her past life.
Now you see why I have the cellphone numbers of around five of my son’s friends stored in my directory. I know deep in my heart that I will need them, especially during the wee hours of the night, and the morning. But having the numbers of your son’s friends is not good enough. You also have to be in good terms with them. It doesn’t take much: a smile, a hello, an offer to give them a ride, and the occasional get-together in your house. This way, they will warm up to you and even tell you untold stories about your son. Is he taking life too seriously? Does he need to loosen up?
Sometimes we parents act like bulls in a China shop. No matter how much we love our children, we do not realize that we’re just charging into their world and breaking valuables along the way. My son’s friends see another side to him that I, his mom, can’t see. They give me a fresh way of looking at my son. They don’t treat him like a son but as an equal. And that’s just what I need, even with my grown-up son. Now, I see him the way his friends do. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Now, I know that I have to advise him to slow down and enjoy his youth, even if I don’t know exactly how he can do that with a worried mom like me around.
If you can’t beat ’em, be friendly with them. I don’t mean attending their parties or joining them for lunch. I mean just letting them know that they can count on you when they need you.
Now that my son is always away from home, spending more time with friends and giving monosyllabic answers to my questions, I know can still have an idea of how he’s doing through the people he hangs around with.
And I can only cross my fingers that he chooses his friends well the way I advised him to. So excuse me while I check my phone directory again and see if I missed any name on the list.
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca
One of the many things I thank my parents for is making sure my siblings and I finish college. Like my Nanay and Tatay, I believe that having a good education is a big factor in a person’s future. That is why my husband and I also dream to see our sons get good jobs or put up a thriving business someday so they can, in turn, be able to raise their families well.
Having knowledge about many things can help a person make good choices because decisions should be made after all angles are considered. This is not always possible if one has limited information. Sure, we don’t, and won’t, learn everything in school. But going through a structured educational system at least guarantees you won’t miss out as much compared to those who didn’t go to school at all, or stopped going to school earlier than they should.
Among the various advocacies I support, I particularly have a soft spot for children’s education. Hubby and I sponsor a child each through World Vision because we’ve seen how our donations, no matter how small, are making an impact in the lives of two children, their families, and their communities.
I am optimistic that if only every Filipino child, the leaders of the future, could have a good education, our country would have a brighter tomorrow. Of course, included there should be good values that will also give them the heart and compassion to help others, not just themselves, when the right time comes.
This March and April, three of my sons are graduating from elementary, high school, and college. I feel this sense of joy and accomplishment for getting them through this far. I know, we still have a long way to go but the foundation is already there. And I will continue supporting my kids as much as I can in reaching their full potentials by making sure they all finish school and improve their chances of having the good lives every parent dreams of for their children.
Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash
By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark
What do you do when you have to rush to work in the morning, beat deadlines in the afternoon, and get home ready to drop at night? Certainly not end the day without checking on your child whether he’s a tyke, a teenager, or a college-age young man like mine.
Sharon Cuneta’s commercial about coming home at night and checking on her sleeping children still strikes a chord in my heart, even if it’s been off the air for quite some time. It’s not that I harbor any illusions of being a Megastar; certainly not. It’s just that it paints the perfect picture of my life these days, so crazy that I can’t even catch my son while he’s awake.
How do I squelch the guilty feelings threatening to kill me with visions of a youth gone wild? By driving my son wherever he needs to be, that’s how.
In the mornings, I drive him to school. On weekends, I repeat the ritual when he has to go to a debate tournament or a required school event.
Trapped in the confines of my trusty vehicle, I strike up a conversation with my son. The poor guy—even if he’s about to nod off to sleep—responds. Never mind if it’s a vague “It’s OK” to my question about how the school fair went. That’s enough for a mom like me who’s anxious to connect with her son.
When I’m lucky, my son’s sentences are longer; his replies more colorful. He lets me into his world—a world where an older cross-enrollee acts like a know-it-all, making everyone snicker, and where teacher jokes rule. I feel like I’m part of a secret society where sorrow and laughter are shared. For a while, looming deadlines recede and the pressure of having to deal with rushed ideas fade. I am in a faraway land with my son—a land where life is simpler and I don’t have to deliver numbers to survive. It’s a breather in my hectic pace, a good rev-up for a brand-new work day.
Now you know why I won’t give up those morning drives for anything in the world except, perhaps, for a big breaking story. Our moments of bonding moments make me more human in the dog-eat-dog world I step into every working day. I remember what life is all about: feeling, sharing, being human.
Thank you, Ben, for making your harassed mom less of a monster and more of a human being through the years.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Cars Website
By Romelda C. Ascutia
Come to my house on a weekday morning, and you’d think it has been the site of a police raid. You know the aftermath of such an intrusion: The place is all topsy-turvy after investigators have combed it inch by inch in search of contraband. That’s how our house greets me when I come down from the bedroom in the mornings. But the culprits are not the search authorities; it’s my two boys.
My children, a college freshman and a high school sophomore, have convinced me that they are old enough to take care of themselves and don’t need my help to prepare them for school in the morning. This is not an act of total altruism on their part, mind you. Truth is, the boys don’t want me hovering over them because I drive them nuts. I nag them to hurry up, to take a bath already, to brush their teeth properly. I pester them with questions. Why didn’t you tell me you have a button missing from your polo? Why don’t you ever bring an umbrella (or at least a jacket) when it’s raining? Why won’t you get a haircut? Why do you ignore the fruits I place on the table?
Because our mornings have become a strain on both sides, we have agreed that I will get all the boys’ needs ready the night before—the hot water in the jug, the cereals and milk in the jars, the bread for toasting snug in the bread box, uniforms hanging neatly in the cabinets—and they will do the rest. The next morning, my duty is to simply call out to the boys when the alarm sounds off, and I go back to sleep when I hear them stomping downstairs.
This arrangement has worked well for all of us so far. I believe this setup teaches the boys to be more independent and self-reliant. If I’m around, they treat me as a convenient lost-and-found center: Ma, did you see my ID/belt/notebook/toothbrush/watch? Can you please go upstairs and get my P.E. shirt? I’m already in the bathroom so could you throw me my towel?
As for me, as a night person, I am not at my best at dawn. I become more energetic as the hours pass and get my second wind late in the night, when everyone is asleep. That’s when I whirl about straightening things, sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry—all those things other moms normally do in the first light of day. Before I head upstairs, I survey my handiwork with a little smile, knowing that everything is in its proper place.
So there’s been a wonderful truce in my household ever since we hit on this morning deal. But I am still far from completely content. After they leave I survey the “damage” my independent young adults have inflicted: beds unmade, dirty clothes and wet towels on the floor, cabinets hanging open with folded clothes in disarray, used plates on the dining table, toothbrushes by the sink, pools of water near the bathroom door for me to slip on. Books and notebooks that are not scheduled for use that day sit in chairs. Receipts, tissue paper, and other whatnots lie on the floor, having missed the trash can.
And so the next hour or so is used to clear up the trail of mess my boys have left behind. But like any hopeful mom I truly believe that with time—and more nagging on my part—my mischievous raiders will become better behaved. Until then, the morning raids will continue.
Featured Photo from Mrs H’s Favorite Things
By Rossana Llenado
It was a terribly busy day filled with all sorts of stress and get-it-done drama when I received some great news. My son Paolo has been accepted at Mensa Philippines after taking the qualifying exams at the University of the Philippines.
When I read the letter from Mensa Philippines, which was addressed to Paolo, my eyes watered up immediately. It stated: “Your equivalent IQ is 134 which ranks you at the 98th percentile. Since this is within the upper two percent on a recognized intelligence test, this means you qualify for membership in MENSA.”
Mensa is a society comprised of people with IQs belonging to the top 2 percent of the population. One of Mensa’s goals is to promote intellectual opportunities for its members, which I hope that Paolo would take advantage of so that he can reach his full potential.
I am just so proud of Paolo!
When he was younger, I already had an inkling of his exceptional intelligence. When he was in grade 5, he took a test at the Ateneo, which found out that his capacity to learn math was that of someone who had already finished high school.
This is why I’ve always encouraged him, as well as my three other children, to pursue his interests. If there was a book that stimulated his mind, I got it for him immediately.
Paolo’s eyes are also as sharp as an eagle’s. He’s our master proofreader. Last summer, I asked him to proofread AHEAD’s reference materials. These materials were produced by 20 honor graduates from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, and La Salle. I told Paolo that I’ll give him P50 for every typographical error that he identifies. I ended up paying him P16,000 that summer!
But apart from being smart, I am prouder of the fact that Paolo has always been a kind and considerate child, sensitive to the needs of his brother and sisters. He is also very responsible when it comes to his duties at school and at home while being gentle to those around him. Paolo is everything that a mom could wish for in a son, and for this I am very grateful!