By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca
A friend of mine shared something on his Facebook wall last night. It’s a link to a story he wrote about his dad. Soon after, other friends, including myself, started sharing our own experiences as sons and daughters.
Most of us acknowledged that our parents are human beings too and are bound to make mistakes like we do. We may have been hurt by some of the things our dads and moms did during our growing up years, but we recognize that we have done stuff that caused them pain as well.
Many of my friends and I have already lost our dads or our moms, or both. Some, many years ago; others, just a few months back. But one thing we expressed is how we all love our parents and respect them.
Me? I remember my Tatay as a strict man who can be quick with the belt when my siblings and I made mistakes while we were still kids. When he and our mom had misunderstandings, he would be gone for days, staying in my Lola’s house before coming back with his sense of humor intact. I loved listening to his corny jokes! I also remember him as a person who people go to when they need help. He was generous to a fault and would even lend his last peso to a friend in need.
He was a good granddad to my kids and my nephew. Up until now, 11 years after he passed away, our relatives and people in our town still talk about him with fondness. I also don’t think anybody has yet broken his record for having the longest line of mourners during the long walk to the cemetery when we brought him to his resting place.
When I get asked about the most precious memories I have of my Tatay, I’ll always recall how he would take my youngest son, barely a year old at the time, every morning for a walk around the town while he chitchats with his many friends. The two of them were a common sight in the area which seems to be still engraved in peoples’ memories. It is gratifying that whenever we visit my mom in Laguna, neighbors and friends would look at Daniel and exclaim how big he has grown from that little baby that my Tatay used to bring everywhere. It always gladdens my heart to hear that.
Nobody is perfect and it will serve us well to look beyond a person’s imperfections to appreciate the goodness within. I’ve long since forgiven and forgotten whatever shortcomings my dad had. What I want to remain are the happy memories he left behind.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
By Lyra Pore
“Mom, are you going to have another baby?”
“How do you know?”
“We can’t afford another baby.”
“Mom, you don’t have to buy it! You just pop the baby out of your tummy!”
To my seven-year-old daughter, having a baby is but a simple matter. Several years ago when there were only two children in the family, she pointed to the empty seats around the dining table. “Maybe we should have another baby,” she said, “so someone can sit on that chair.”
Indeed we’ve had one more baby since she uttered those words. Not really to fill empty chairs in our dining room, but because we always found joy in having children around the house.
We broke the news to the girls in the park. “We’re having a baby,” their dad told them as we all sat around a picnic table next to the playground.
“Are they going to cut up your tummy in the hospital?” They asked. “Or are you going to pee and the baby comes out?”
“I’m going to pee,” I said. I’ve had two natural deliveries and was expecting the third to be the same.
“Is she going to have blond hair and blue eyes? Some of our classmates have blond hair.”
“We can’t have a blond-haired baby.”
“Well, Daddy and I are Filipinos and Filipinos have black hair.”
When the baby finally arrived, the girls came to visit us at the hospital. They looked at her lovingly as she slept in her bassinet.
“Can she speak English?”
“Not yet. Newborn babies just cry. They have some growing up to do before they can talk.”
“Can she eat sinigang?”
“Not yet. But someday she will.”
By Lyra Pore
Hogwarts. Quidditch. Wands and spells. The first time the Harry Potter series hit bookstores back in the late ‘90s, I couldn’t stand the books.
“I’m too old for this.” I dismissed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone after just a few pages of reading the book. If the series had been published when I was in high school, I would have loved it. But I was by then a new mom to a baby girl ― my world was filled with diapers and formula, not owls, wizards and some fictional beings misguided by a Nazi-like obsession with the purity of species.
Last Christmas, however, my baby girl who had since turned ten received the children’s edition of the complete Harry Potter set for Christmas. Keen to find some bonding moments with her, I picked up the Philosopher’s Stone and tried reading it again.
I couldn’t have chosen a more auspicious time to take up Harry Potter. My daughter, just like Harry in the first book, was turning 11 in a few days. And like Percy Weasley, Ron’s older brother, she’d just been elected school prefect.
Over the next two months, the two of us would explore the Harry Potter world together. It would soon become a family affair too, as my husband and our other children would join us in watching the film adaptation each time we finished a book. Not only did we form a mother-daughter book club, we’d also organized family Friday Night Movies. We’d all sit on the couch on Fridays, watch the Harry Potter DVD and talk about how the movie differed from the book.
“It wasn’t Neville Longbottom who gave Harry the gillyweed in Goblet of Fire. It was Dobby!”
“How come the other elf Winky wasn’t in any of the movies?”
At times, our Harry Potter journey turned into a writing lesson. My daughter, who was starting to develop an interest in fiction writing, would comment on J.K. Rowling’s style and how it differed from that of Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series. I worked in publishing; I took delight in talking about books especially with my children.
The excitement over the release of Deathly Hallows 2 took over our household. My husband would buy our girls Harry Potter souvenirs that were being sold with every purchase of a local newspaper. The family also organized a weekend trip to an IMAX theatre to watch the movie in 3D. Making a day of it, we set out at 9 a.m., picked up some friends who were also going to the movies with us, went to lunch at a restaurant just a short walk from the cinema, and spent the rest of the afternoon not just enjoying the last movie of the series but savouring gelato that IMAX moviegoers could get free for each scoop they bought.
“Lord Voldemort’s wand will be out with the Sunday newspaper,” I told them after dinner on Friday. “I thought it was Dumbledore’s,” my husband replied. “Oh, you’re right. It’s Dumbledore’s. The newspaper says it is.”
Upstairs our two year-old daughter was fast asleep. She’d been playing the whole week with Harry’s wand, yelling “crucio!” and “stupefy!” at her older sisters.
By Regina Abuyuan
My friend R, who partnered with D and me on this new venture of ours, a pub in Cubao X, has an ingenious solution to the never-ending quest for work-life balance and spending time with his kids even when he’s at work: letting his kid work alongside him.
For two weeks now, his son R2 has worked Fridays and a couple of Sundays waiting and clearing tables at the pub. Unlike most teens, he’s not into video games and girls (thanks to his ultra-sensible, well-grounded parents). However, R thought he could use some boosting in the get-your-nose-out-of-your-book-and-relate-to-the-world department. Don’t get me wrong—R2 is no sullen, emo-type nerd. He’s always smiling; chatty when he wants to be. But parents like to push their children’s potential, so here we are.
The first night, R2 was learning the ropes, trying to gain his footing. And he did—fast! Now he automatically hands guests their menus, knows how to serve beer, and wipes down tables after.
“It’s about building confidence,” his father likes to explain to people, after joking about child labor, when they inquire about the bespectacled lad handing them their drinks. “How to relate to different kinds of people—people skills.”
The best feedback I’ve gotten from R about his boy waiting tables, though, is this: “Papa,” R2 told his father after one (his first!) particularly busy Sunday. “I will never get irritated at waiters again.”
And what about my kids, you may ask? Why haven’t I asked S to join in? I don’t think it’s for her. I’ve asked her to serve customers a few times, but I know she wouldn’t be the eager learner like R2 is. Instead, I let her watch and witness how hard D and I work at the kitchen and bar—and her reaction has been just as rewarding.
“Are you sure you’re OK?” She texted last pay day, a Friday, when she learned D was going to be late for service and R wasn’t around. I was basically running the whole show, with the crowd growing bigger by the minute. “Yes, I’ll be OK,” I answered.
“Uhm, well, at least you’re earning…and you like it…I hope Tito D comes soon so he can help you.”
I rediscovered what I taught myself and S when she was little and would sit beside me while I wrote: If you can’t bring your kids to work, or have them experience what you do, at least make them understand what you do, how much you enjoy it, and how much it means to you. That way (hopefully!) they won’t resent your work—or at least resent it less.
By Catherine Deen
Like most first-time parents, my husband and I were extremely protective of our firstborn. During his first three years of life, he slept with us in the master bedroom. From a crib, he graduated to our bed, then later on, to a small fold-out bed of his own. While he had a room of his own, which housed his toys, books, clothes, and other items, his bed was stored and used in our room.
Although not uncommon, this is a less-than-ideal sleeping arrangement for many families. Yes, we may have saved on electric bills since we only needed to use one air conditioner, but it did not create an independent spirit in our son. This sleeping arrangement also resulted in our personal loss of privacy and couple time. As you can imagine, neither my husband nor I appreciated this.
When our son turned three, my husband and I discussed how to transition him into sleeping in his own room. We were very concerned about separation anxiety and thought carefully about how to implement the transition. Ultimately, we decided to turn the experience into a “surprise,” hoping that the “fun factor” would assist in the transition process.
First, we cleaned his room. Second, we secured his bed prominently in his room, strategically placing some of his favorite toys on the bed. Third, we put up educational posters—numbers, letters, good manners, parts of the body, and others—around his room. When the room was finally ready, we called him up and nervously announced, “Son, welcome to your room!”
We were busy preparing a surprise but the surprise was on us! Imagine our amazement when our son responded, “Oh my! I had been dreaming of having my own room!” He then proceeded to enter and OWN his room!
My husband and I looked at each other, dumbfounded. The whole time, we thought our son would have a hard time, but as it turned out, he had been ready and waiting for it for a long time.
That evening, our son slept in his room all by himself and without supervision. There was no need to even stay with him to lull him to sleep. Our little man was ready to be by himself. Throughout the night, we found ourselves a bit lonely in our room without our son. Laughable as it may seem, we found ourselves going back and forth from our bedroom to his to check on him several times that evening.
In this scenario, who had separation anxiety?! Ironically, it was not the son but the parents!
This significant parenting experience taught me one of the greatest lessons in parenting that I still practice today. Indeed, our primary role as parents is to prepare our children to face life on their own and not to overprotect them. Many times, we fear for our children’s safety and security. But, can we truly guarantee that? No. Cliché as it sounds, parenting is truly like a slightly open palm—not too tight to become stifling overprotection, yet not too loose to develop irresponsible freedom.