Monday, August 26, 2013

Teaching Values as We Walk

Garrett upon reaching home with his cup of taho, tired and sweaty from walking (and listening).

The weather has improved a bit but I still got the blues. I somehow find it hard to shake off this damper. The sun has been shy these days. I’d bet only Mr. Sun could lift this feeling of heaviness.

It’s Monday, so I thought it in order to start the week with good vibes, and beat the weather somehow. I put on my walking shoes and egged on Garrett to follow suit. We headed out, notwithstanding the overcast skies and drizzle, for a short walk to a nearby mini wet market (talipapa).

Garrett is the type of boy who is not much into physical activities. He easily tires and he doesn’t like being sweaty. It’s much harder now to encourage him to develop a liking for sports. So when I asked him to come with me for a walk, he did so to obey my wish. He’d rather go on with what he was doing – reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The one thing that I appreciate about him is that he still (he’s almost eleven) follows my commands even if at times he would do so silently crying, tears streaming down his eyes. Yes, I’m tough like that especially when it is about doing his responsibilities and what we had agreed on.

So off we went, holding hands for the most part of our walk. At the market, he would mutter that he would not have gone with me had he known where we were actually going. He did not like the few times that I brought him with me to a wet market. He would attempt to shoo away the flies landing on the vegetables, and appeared distressed by the flies touching his legs.

On the way back home, I told him that it was not good at all that he would complain over little things, that he should think of the vendors who have no choice but to endure being at that place until night time to earn a living. I went on and on (yet again) with my litany of how fortunate he and his sister are. That he should always first think, before complaining, of the people, especially the children, who are deprived of even enjoying basic goods like food and water.

Knowing that Garrett’s able to process in his mind poverty as he has encountered it in his readings of even books published by the ADB, I shared with him some lessons I picked up from an article that I recently read in Time magazine, about rich children's tendency to be narcissistic (self-centered), feeling that they are entitled to the privileges they are enjoying. I, of course, qualified that our family is not rich, but he and his sister are enjoying some privileges of rich children, like being able to eat the foods they want, having a house, not having to take the jeepney or bus, being able to study in a good school, among other things. I said that there is a risk that, like other privileged children, he would grow up thinking and believing that life was easy.

Somehow, I feel that Garrett gets the lessons that I and my husband try hard to get across to him and his sister. Last night, he prayed for equality, that other people may also have enough food. My husband and I do not watch the evening news on TV as we do not want to expose our children to gory details of crimes and all the sensational news. But, last week, I intentionally allowed them to watch on a few occasions so they would see what was happening around us, how the floods severely affected people – to get them to realize that while we were safe at home, eating and watching TV to pass the time while school was out, many people were at evacuation centers or stuck at their houses wading in the floods. Garrett picked up also news about the pork barrel scam, and would explain to his sister what it was about.

Parenting now is a hundredfold tougher than it was back in the 70’s or 80’s (my era). I don’t recall conversations with my mother like the ones I mentioned. I grew up attuned to the hardships my family had to go through. There were times, still vivid in my mind, when I would be fed rice and lard, or calamansi with salt. But that was normal before. I did not feel any less. But it sure was enough motivation to persevere so I could live a far more comfortable life.

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