Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Happy First Grader

Gab turned six last June, one day after school opened and welcomed her as a first grader. She has joined her brother in a progressive school located in Antipolo. Their classes started later than in most other schools, and they are now only on their fifth week, excluding the week when classes were suspended for four days due to Typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasun). Gab was quick to settle into her new school, as we had expected. I have always admired how she easily adapts to any person and environment. She’s not one to fret or become anxious about being left at school on the first day, as she’s the chameleon type, blends well in just about any place and crowd.

Except for the usual battle we have over waking up and getting ready in the morning, every single day has been a happy one, peppered with lots of anecdotes. Her stories have become more detailed, pertaining to this and that classmate. She now knows all the names of her classmates, teachers, and even the manong that she refers to as Kuya Bok. Kuya Bok is apparently the one who brings her and her classmates snacks from the canteen. Yesterday, she told me that Kuya Bok is the “maintains.” “Ah, maintenance,” I corrected her, recalling seeing school staff wearing pink shirts with the word “maintenance” printed on the back.

It was on the second week, I think, when, at the dinner table, she engaged her brother in a pagalingan banter, and asked, in a she-knows-you-don’t tone, “Do you know what a “paradise” is?” Kuya was quite taken aback by the question, wondering perhaps what prompted Gab to ask. Earlier that day, Gab was telling me, on the way home from school, what protozoans are, and how they can make the tummy ache. Knowing where she was coming from, I laughed and jumped in, explaining to Kuya that Gab meant to ask what a parasite was, not paradise. Kuya gamely shared what became a joke between us (to be shared with their dad later), and laughed with me. And Gab went on to explain about good and bad germs she saw under a microscope—another new and exciting word for her.

Gab seems to have learned a lot about the human body over the course of her first few weeks into grade school, proudly sharing her new learnings and singing to me songs about the skin, eye, ears and brain. Last Wednesday, she was so happy to share that she cooked spaghetti at school, and it was so yummy, she finished her share. She was made to bring tomato sauce, spices and a food container. She came home with just a dirty (with a few spaghetti noodle bits) food container.

I look forward to fetching Gab from school. She’s still full of energy at dismissal and would want to linger and eat lunch with Kuya at the canteen. I just sometimes wish she would still look as immaculate as she is when I drop her off. But, each time also, she’d be in various states of disarray, whether it’s her long hair strands that escaped her braids or  pony tails, or her knee-high black socks pulled down to her ankles, or her stained white polo, or muddy black shoes, or combinations of these. And I just have to accept the child that she is, and that I can’t, no matter how I try, get her to stay put, prim and proper, and get herself the “Most Orderly” award that I got during kindergarten. Gab is nothing like me as a child. And, honestly, I’m happy about that.

Last Monday, Gab did something that amazed me and got me a bit weak in the knees, awed at her braveness. They have a weekly school assembly, like a flag ceremony, where there is a class designated each Monday to give a presentation—a skit, song, or dance, with a theme about values. The value that was presented last Monday was “prudence.” After the presentation, the school principal gave a short message to reiterate the importance of the “value” that had just been demonstrated. When the principal threw the first question, “What is prudence?,” I was watching the program from outside the gate and heard the principal remark, “Yes, Gabee?” I looked closely, and lo and behold, it was my Gabee being called to the front to answer. It took her a few seconds to reach the principal and speak on the microphone. She spoke in a very soft voice, I didn’t catch what she said, but the principal repeated it, saying that Gab said prudence was about loving. Not exactly correct, but in a way connected. That was how Gab understood it based on the skit which had some students dressed as angels with halos. That’s Gab. I hope she stays that way, confident and happy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Checkin' Back In

Hello, it's been quite a while. Hope you missed me. I did miss you that's why I'm breaking my long silence. Lost track of when I last blogged. I had checked and my last “decent” post was over two months ago. I have been silent while my mind has been abuzz. I couldn’t put my thoughts down, as I was afraid of the conclusions I would make if I did. Writing is a way of clearing my mind, going to the core of what’s been bothering me. Writing has to be heartfelt for it to be good; it exposes one’s soul so to speak. It behooves the writer to be true unless that writer is writing fiction or novels. But blogging is different. It’s personal, it’s mostly about one’s life, preferences, passions, advocacies, opinions, wishes, angsts, battles, all reflective of the blogger’s state of mind or, in general, the blogger’s present circumstances which are in large part the source of motivation to write or blog.

The fascination over having someone like you, even if there are just ten of you out there, reading me, empathizing or disagreeing with me, or maybe even bashing me, keeps me coming back. Times when I feel I need a little bit of attention or validation, and some introspection, I take to writing again. The thing with being out of radar for some time is that I start again fumbling, grappling, as I find my way to hitting the subject of this post. Please bear with me.

The last summer was one of the best I've had. I enjoyed it immensely with my children. It was my first summer when I was with them all the time except for a one-week vacation they had with my in-laws and a five-day summer camp that my eldest attended. We went on two outings with my side of the family, three with my in-laws, and one with just me, hubs and our two kids. The last one was with both sides, and I think it’s what the kids would remember the most, the trip to Enchanted Kingdom. But for me, I liked the Baguio trip the most although it was already June and raining when we went, it was like my first time again to experience its fog, veggies, strawberries, flowers, ube, markets. I was pregnant with my eldest, who’s now turning 12, when I visited Baguio before this last trip. Despite all the developments and the negative things said about it, including how its air quality is even poorer than Manila’s, Baguio has retained its charm for me. I look forward to visiting again and exploring it more.

I have amassed photos to keep from the last summer alone. I’m planning to make photo-books of each trip so my family could in a way relive the fun and drum up excitement for future vacations. For many years, a decade now, come to think of it, we’ve stopped printing photos, and just kept them in external drives and the desktop. This, to my little dismay, prevents me from retrieving very old photos and making throwback-Thursday (TBT) and flashback-Friday posts on fb or IG. Seriously! Well, yes, those who have been (tirelessly) following me on fb know that with all the fb albums I have, I can just extract old photos from there. True, true. But, the point is, I believe it’s important to also have photos printed and kept in boxes, or printed straight onto photo-books. Now, I know why I see plastic photo albums always on sale in bookstores. I have an empty one that I bought years ago but never got to use, and may never will.

Looking back again to my summer of 2014, I feel so blessed and happy being able to take my two children wherever. They are spaced six years apart, my eldest, as I’ve mentioned, is turning 12 this year, and my youngest just turned 6 recently. We would take off any time, and I only needed to pack their clothes and slippers. We would sit in restaurants and I could enjoy my meal as they enjoyed theirs. It has always been at the back of my mind, an option until now, to have another child. But, at my age, and at this juncture, it’s best for everyone that we remain a foursome family. I am not saying this in definitive terms, of course, as who knows what might tomorrow bring, right?

Ok, what was I afraid of again? I’m not saying. I have skipped it, thankfully. I will spill though when I have become comfortable sharing it. I’m just happy now for putting an end to my hiatus. I hope I get inspired again to share things happening with me and around me. Writing is fun. I derive great pleasure from it. You should try it. To end, let me share that my son bought yet another notebook and has been madly scribbling his thoughts wherever (I hope not during his classes). Happy thoughts and happy vibes to you and yours. J

Sharing some treasured photos: