Sunday, June 26, 2005

Meet the Parents

This is not about the highly popular movie that starred Ben Stiller. Rather, this is my musings about my own parents. My father, in particular since just this past Father's Day, I finally admitted to myself how much I don't want to be like him in terms of parenting.

Now, I don't mean to sound rude. And, I'm certainly not saying I'm a better parent than him. It's just that, until now, and I'm already 29 years old, I'm still hoping and praying for him to be better in terms of sense of responsibility, maturity, wisdom, and most especially financial independence. At the last count, he rates zero on all four. That's sad for someone of his age.

Being the eldest, and good thing there's just the two of us; I've always been the one to take up the slack on my parent's part. Which is, more often than not, always. That would not have been too much of a problem if I were still single. As it is, with a family of my own and with a four-year-old daughter, I don't have much room to maneuver.

It just gets tiring sometimes. Yet, I don't have the heart to turn my back on my mother and brother when they're left in the lurch due to my father's unwise decisions, if they may even be called that.

See, my father can't help himself. Or doesn't want to. He's afflicted with an addiction to gambling. Ever since I can remember, I know him to be a player to all sorts of betting games. Name it, he's tried it and gone back to it again and again at the expense of everything.

He used to have a very good job as a seaman overseas. With his salary in dollars, he was able to finance his gambling. We were okay then, too, since my mother's mandatory remittance was something he could not touch when he was working abroad. So, all's well and I was even able to finish grade and high schools in an exclusive school.

But, then, he got sick with a cataract. I believe his all-night gambling sprees are to be blamed for that, too. When he can get away from work, and he'd really make sure of that, he'd gamble to his heart's content. He'd go for days without eating and sleeping right when he's on the betting tables. When he's on vacation here, there isn't much difference when he's away at sea because I don't get to see him anyway. He loves gambling, he absolutely revels in it. And, for the love of me, I couldn't understand it. I can't see why he'd work hard and then spend it all on a risk. A gamble that when lost, only brings him anger and frustration. (He used to break things when he's really angry about losing in bets.)

He underwent an eye operation and became well. He wasn't able to work abroad, anymore though. And, that's when we really felt the problem. To say we became hard up was putting it mildly. I didn't get to enjoy college as much as I would due to the ever-present financial concerns.

My grandmothers, on both sides, were very helpful, though. But, it wasn't the same since I felt embarrassed to approach them about those things. It wasn't their responsibility and it took a lot for me to come to them for help. In a way, I blamed my father for putting my mother and I in that position.

I really was in a hurry to work after college. Now, it helps a lot that I am able to earn. I provide for our family. I'm still not seeing any improvement in my father's behavior, though. In fact, he's getting worse. Now, he even asks me for money. Of course, I don't give him any except for the occasional jitney fares.

I shudder to think what he'll do when he's really old and no longer able to work and wanting to gamble still. I really pray he'll realize what he's doing before it comes to that.

Sometimes, when you really meet your parents, when you realize that they're not perfect as you thought they were when you were little, when they were giving you all those life lessons, it's sad. But, I guess in that, they're teaching you something, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Pre-Schooler

chantelle in her CSR uniform in her first day of school

My daughter, Chantelle, started her first day at Kindergarten on 6 June 2005 at Colegio de Santa Rosa, Manila. My mother accompanied her and was allowed to stay all through the period, which was from 7 to 11:30 in the morning.

It went fairly well. In fact, she was very excited and was up early. When they got there and after the morning school ceremony was over, she went quietly with the teacher to the classroom. She didn't cry or anything about the new surroundings or the great number of kids and students she saw.

My mother told me though, that Chantelle kept standing up during the class and looking out the window to check if she was there. It would seem that everything's okay with her as long as she knows her grandmother was there.

Thus, her first day at school went.

After the initial excitement, I was afraid that she'd get tired of school. Thankfully, though, that did not happen. Sometimes, it's hard to get her up in the mornings, but, once she's taken her bath, she doesn't need any prodding to dress and hurry in time for her school service to pick her up.

The second week, when the parents or guardians are no longer allowed beyond the school gate, we just sent her off on her school bus. I thought she'd make a fuss but she didn't. She really seems to like school which is great.

One day, though, after coming home from school, she told me nonchalantly that she didn't get a star (its their top grade) from her teacher. I asked why, and she told me that she refused to write when her teacher asked her to. I know that she has a little trouble writing now and I understand. So, I just told her to at least try and that if she doesn't know how to do something, then she should ask help from her teacher. She thought about that and then nodded yes to me. I thought that that was it. But the next day, she did the same thing, refused to write in school. I scolded her then, telling her to work hard in school. I know she's still young but I feel she needs to realize the importance of education at an early age. I then sat with her to let her try to do some writing. She was able to do it after some prodding. I would have to guide her closely on that, I guess.

But, beyond that, I feel really happy that my daughter is in school now. She's met a lot of friends already and are learning a lot of things everyday. She tells me about her school activities and it's gratifying to hear her enjoying school (even if the tuition's really high!). But, that's not something I would want her to worry about. My husband and I will make sure of that.

So, school begins for my daughter Chantelle. Still a lot of years ahead for her in the academe. And, I pray she'll really like every minute and learn and enjoy from it.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Odd Hours

Just when I conditioned myself to work in the morning shift, it was announced that the 24x7 hours of our account's operation has again been put on hold. Life really is unpredictable. But, since I don't have a choice, I'll look at it in a different view: money-wise. The pay's really good when one is working on a night shift. You get all that night differentials that somehow makes up for the shockingly large tax the government imposes on its working people.

So, I'll have to do with my schedule for now. After all, working on the graveyard shift has never been a problem for me. I'm one of those night people (dracula's next-of-kin, hahaha) who's wide-awake at night and asleep during the day. If my body clock works that way, might as well get paid for it, right?

My concern's with my child. She's in kindergarten now and needs to be attended to before and after school mornings. I can't do that, though. Usually, when I get home, I'm already tired and just about ready to hit the sack. It's my mother who attends to her and I feel sad that it has to be that way. I'd want to do that for my child.

Also, in the afternoons, when she has to do her homework, I'm still asleep. The other day, she already complained that I'm always sleeping. Of course that's because she's asleep when I'm at work and awake when I'm home and resting. Talk about a crazy schedule.

My husband is on the same boat. We have almost the same schedule. I can only hope and pray that our child doesn't develop some kind of problem over that. We do try hard to give her our undivided time and attention during our days off.

I don't want to look for another job, though. I like my work now and it pays really well. So, my best option really is the morning shift. I'd be working while she's at school and there for her in the late afternoons and evenings.

Well, I'm praying now that the 24x7 hours of operation goes through and as soon as possible. That would really be great news for me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

That Old Feeling

It took only one glance in your picture for that old wonderful feeling to come back. I missed you. I am not supposed to nor do I particularly want to but, there it was. No denying it.

I want to tell you how much that particular summer spent with you meant to me but I can't. I want to tell you, as I wanted to tell you then, how much I like you. I don't know why you have that power over me. You're quiet and not at all great-looking. Your fashion sense was unheard of and you'd much rather stay in the background always.

So why this? And, until now? Maybe it's your intelligence, your quiet and gentle ways, your thoughtfulness... Anyway, I can think from here to eternity but still not come up with a suitable answer. But, I guess that's the way it's always been with matters of the heart.

We lost touch after college, but I tried to wait for you. Even though you did not give me any concrete indication that you'd want me to. It was presumptous, I know, but I didn't care. There was this silly hope that one day we could be together. Crazy, huh?

But, Life went on a different course for me. I could never be sorry about it. I love the people in my life. Deeply so. And, I would never dream of hurting them in any way.

I guess with you, my heart takes on a life of it's own. As if I were free and priviledged to do so, I think about you and me, together. Just like we were that summer. It was so perfect that, even now, I could remember every nuance, every thought, every moment.

When I found out that you already have someone special, I was angry at you. I still am. I felt betrayed, somehow. As if you were confirming that that summer meant nothing at all to you. I shouldn't be and I know I don't have the right. Now, I am grateful that I didn't tell you of my feelings then. I would have just looked foolish. At least, I still have my pride.

As hard as it was to accept, silly heart notwithstanding, it wasn't meant to be. I firmly believe that if two people really love each other, even if everything goes against them, they will be together. And, as what happened between you and me, or rather, what NOT happened, is a testimony of the very craziness of the idea.

Maybe I'll always be just a little in love with you. For, I know that my good memories of you was somehow mixed up over my college euphoria. That's what made the feeling stand out. So, I'll just savor those memories for they do bring a smile to my face. And, then on with my life and my loves.