I couldn't be any happier.I have been blessed!
Twenty years ago, I was a young father taking my first child to school. While I was not a really a nervous wreck, still, I was a bit jittery thinking how my daughter would cope in a new environment. Added to that is the pressure of knowing that she was only staying in her classroom, safe under the care of a teacher, for half the day and will be spending the other half waiting for me in my office (that included having to stay late for meetings). I was at a loss at what I should do. I have to work and at the same time take care of my kid. Like any normal Filipino parent, my first option was to order her to sleep the afternoon away sans the usual motivation parents say to their young children, "sleep so you can grow faster." And yet, I couldn't. I never believed it as a toddler anyway. So, I let her be, left her there to study her lessons, if she would.
My eldest daughter was the one who experienced having to commute the long ride from my home to school which was about more than an hour away. She would amuse herself by singing songs not ordinarily sang by girls her age to the amusement of fellow commuters. I remember her singing songs I often listened to like songs from the Swing Out Sisters, Basia and all those jazz performers, and Lisa Loeb. The rainy season was the worst. We, together with other teachers who lived in the same area, would queue in Edsa, waiting for a jeepney. The mornings were lighter as we rode with a neighbor up until EDSA, take a bus from there going to Magallanes from where we rode the school bus.. There was a time when the public bus we were riding lost its brakes and collided with another bus. I wasn't fast enough to hold my daughter at the sudden impact and she bumped her head on a railing. She suffered a lump on her head. But as a true trooper, she never cried. Nevertheless, I couldn't help getting angry at myself having allowed that to happen. The following year, we bought our first car, would you believe, a super old Taunus. I would like to make believe that it was an old vintage car and have other people thinking I was a young Don Corleone. But who was I kidding? It was nothing but just plain old - antiquated valueless piece of junk body and engine! As the saying goes, "Beggars cannot be choosy" and I was just lucky we had a ride. The good thing about it was that I was just learning how to drive. So, the greatest advantage was that if the other drivers could not get out of my way fast enough, I will let them hit that old junk of a car which was solid as steel and feel sorry for their vehicle! I had nothing to lose.
Anyway, two years after, it was my second child's turn to be in school. What I remember vividly during the first day was that I couldn't find him when I picked him up. Guess where I found him - up on a tree hanging up there like a monkey. As the years rolled by, and before it hit me, the third one was already hopping into the car on the way to school with breakfast in tow. Another two more years after, the last one joined us. I now had full custody of my four kids answerable for their safety to a wife who would undoubtedly raise hell and high water should any of them got hurt.
Each of them had different complications. The second began to take up violin lessons and boy did he practice. Every time it was time to go home, I just had to listen and trace from where that "Mary had a little Lamb" or "Long, Long Ago" tune was coming from and voila! There he was. It was not, as the saying goes, all for naught. He became the concert master in school, the only guy from CSB who auditioned for the DLSU orchestra, got in and even became its concert master, too. My wife and I made sure that the whole family watched every performance he had which continued even when he finished college.
The third one was a cute darling. Our young actress, she was the diplomat who could charm her way and before you knew it, you would practically end up begging to offer what she wanted to have. There were two incidents that got me and my wife crying of laughter when she was in the lower grades. Both instances involved her teachers, her assignment vs. her wits. I could no longer recall the exact chronological order of these two events but I think the first one was when she was in grade 1. She was supposed to bring a bottle that had a sprouting mongo seed which she planted, watered and took care of. Come presentation day, she forgot the same. Fearing to get a failing mark, she took a bottle displayed by the window and had it checked by the teacher. Voila! a 90! The second time was when she was when she forgot the handouts in a subject. What happened was the teacher asked them to read their handout silently. When she couldn't find the handout, again, fearing that she would be scolded, took out another handout for another subject and pretended to read. She got away again. My wife and I were unanimous of not scolding her. In life, one has to live with cunning sometimes. We knew she was a survivor and we cannot fault her for that.
Another two more years and the last one joined her. Again, the remaining two had more time on their hands as they had to stay in the office the whole afternoon. What would children their age do when an elder is away? Play! They would hide underneath the sofa and play until they got tired and fell asleep. I never knew what their sleeping arrangement was for it was a small sofa that I had in my room. They hinted at it a few weeks ago as we were on our way home after I picked them up coming from different locations. One was sleeping underneath. Presumably the youngest.
Now, the youngest is all brawn and a little rough on the edges. He is the politician in the family. While his siblings outgrew the need to hang out with friends, he was the one who went out of the house to join the neighborhood rascals. He is the sportsman who was good at any sport he got interested in. He has more tricks and shenanigan ways than the rest of the three combined. When he was about 5 years old and was in Sr. Prep school, a co-teacher approached me to complain that he scratched her car. I apologized and offered to have the scratch fixed. She said it was alright as she understood boys. What a relief that was. I did not know where to get money to have that fixed. Another time was when another teacher told me that she caught my son getting into a fight with a friend the day before. He was caught holding a rock in his hand . She immediately asked the two to break it and make up. It would have been a real nightmare if he had caused injury at the time. Well, in fairness to my youngest, he was like a precious stone which was very coarse and an uneven surface that had to be polished. Well, I think we did. Soon he will prove to be a diamond beginning to sparkle after it has been cleaned. Still a little rough on some edges but hopefully would turn out to be flawless in the end.
I carried the four of them for a total of eighteen years. For all those years, I could hardly be on my own enjoying the company of friends after work. How could I? I had to take them home to the wife who, by the time we got there, had already prepared dinner and ready to help me carry each one of them into the house as they were fast asleep. It was as if I was sentenced for life for a crime I did not commit. I was young and still full of hormones enough to last drinking sessions until the wee hours of the morning. This was the reason why I reveled at the time when there were no classes and none of them was with me.
And then, one by one, they left.
As the front seat was vacated by the elder, the younger one took over until no one was left. How time flies and it flew very fast. All of them had graduated college and are now working. The eldest is now the manager of two branches (with another one coming up sometime in August) of a hair salon originally from Canada, after a long stay with a car company as a Marketing Specialist. The second one, while still engaged in his love for music, resigned from his present company, a well-known communications provider, because he has decided to join his friends in putting up their own business. He is just finishing the 30-day notice. The third one is now a sales agent for another car company and is doing good with her sales. The last one is working as well. He is one helluva good looking dude as he goes to the office in a suit! He currently works for a company that recruits and hires executives for other companies whom he interviews.
Lastly, we have finished paying the mortgage for the house and the car we bought last year. Now, we are looking to purchase another property maybe out there in Tagaytay or any nearby town for our retirement. It mas still remain a dream but we have dreamt big before and we saw its fruition. Why not dream another big one again?
Yes, time flies so fast I don't know where it went but I sure have all these memories up in my head. The good and the bad ones, the happy and the sad. All I can say is that in all the times we have been together, I never had to talk (and I would not have) with their teachers to ask for favors and cut them some slack. As a matter of fact, I managed to let them be, have them come to a school as if I didn't work there and have them experience the closest they could that normal children whose parents are off working somewhere else had. I am proud that in spite of my shortcomings, I, together with my wife, am able to raise my kids the way we wanted to. The test of time whether or not we were successful in raising them is not yet over. We will have to see how they will be as parents themselves. And yet, half of the battle has been won. From the looks of it, we have done a fairly good job!
I am happy!