Taking Small Steps towards Change

Posted by Papa Sez | Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today, hopes are high as Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III takes his oath of office as the new President of the Republic of the Philippines. I have no illusions of a dramatic turnaround of the country's status over the next six years, but I am hoping that a new path towards a better Philippines would be established paving the way for future administrations to reach the illusive dream of becoming a developed country.  One that is able to protect its citizens and provide them with the essentials so each can reach his/her own highest potential (as parents we want this for our children and their children's children).

One of the critical firsts of a series of small steps towards restoring trust in government and in ourselves have already been made in the last national elections. Now the next ones still involves all of us supporting (as well as exhorting) our new President in the work required to effect the changes that we collectively envisioned.

Difficulties are expected as we move away from the status quo and out of each of our personal comfort zones to combat inertia. No one should expect change to be easy and comfortable. In fact, it would take so much of our personal and collective energies and attentions, that we would be tempted to quit.

I for one would start with myself...to be the transition person that Stephen Covey talked about, that brings positive change to my family and community by breaking the flow of negative habits or harmful mindsets from one generation to the next. All of us can be one if we put our minds to it and just take small, steady baby steps one day at a time. It will be worth it!

photo courtesy of tatb4urot
Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Bookmark and Share

Our 10-year old daughter came home upset late Thursday afternoon. She found out that day that the auditions for the school’s Dance Club was scheduled on the next day and she hasn’t made any preparations for it. Moreover, she also has homework – more than the usual, she claimed. The breaking point perhaps is that her uniform was sprinkled with ink from a ball pen of someone who was messing around in the school service on the way home.

Noticing her troubled face, I inquired when she got to the door, “Hi Rica, is there anything wrong?” With tears coming down her cheeks, she pointed to the black ink peppered on the back of her white blouse and explained that it’s not her fault. “Ok, we’ll ask Mama to fix this for you.”

Then, she went on about the audition and the enormous amount of homework for that night. Obviously overwhelmed, I told her to calm down and to tell me what it was that she needs to do.

It turned out that the biggest concern was the audition. I assured her that her Tita Tin already knows that she was going over after school for an emergency dance coaching session. Then, we agreed that after about an hour of dance practice, we’ll have a nice dinner and then deal with her homework.

So she stopped crying and fixed herself up to go to her Tita’s house.

A week ago, she happily declared that she’s going to join the school’s Art Club. She told us that there’s a maximum membership of 30 for each club. We immediately inquired about the Dance Club and the Glee Club, those directly related to her main interests: dancing and singing. “There’s an audition for the Dance Club!” she exclaimed, “and that would be difficult,” she continued. She claimed to not notice any club related to singing or music.

We already knew that that she didn’t want to audition for fear of not getting in. Being new to the school, she didn’t know what to expect and hesitated to ask anybody in school about it. She felt that getting in to the Art Club is the simplest thing to do as she only needs to sign up and be one of the 30. Besides, her new friends (and it actually turned out that all of the girls except for two) were planning to sign up for the Cooking Club.

She joined the Theatre Club last year in her old school and enjoyed it very much - having all the opportunity to act, dance and sing together with her friends and schoolmates. She said that she has tried cooking and theatre, and now it’s time to try art (probably also inspired by her summer Manga drawing and scrap booking with her Tito Jay and Tita Tin, respectively). She actually got quite good with her Manga sketching and we’ll feature some of her works next time.

We had to give her a nudge to the direction of dancing as we’ve already learned about she being happiest when she dances. This is easily understood as Tita Tin and Mama Sez, on separate instances, have also confessed their love to dance and being happiest when doing it. Fortunately, their love coincides with their talent. Mama Sez blogged about a dance performance and posted a video here.

Of course, she cannot deny what we already knew but had to make up excuses or reasons not to audition. This went on and off in the next days until that Thursday. Tita Tin, Mama Sez and I already discussed it prior to Rica’s realization and we expected her to eventually need to prepare a number for the audition.

It only took her and Tita Tin (and Tito Jay) an hour to come up with a new near perfect dance number to the tune of Kat DeLuna’s “Push Push”. After that, with a smile from ear to ear, Rica’s night was a breeze. Her homework was really just the usual stuff and one can even be postponed as it was for a long-term group project. So with the “it’s in the bag” seal of approval from Mama Sez, Rica confidently looked forward to next day’s auditions.

This time with a wonderful grin, Rica reported the next afternoon that she’s the only fifth grader who auditioned (mostly were sixth and fourth graders), the only one to dance solo (every one else went as a group) and the only one who came prepared with a choreographed number and costume. Of the 32 who went, four backed out when they were asked to perform again by the teacher. Although there was no formal declaration that the 28 remaining students already made it as Dance Club members, the teacher’s instruction that they’ll be meeting next week in the playroom (where there’s more space) and the “very good” she got from the teacher as well as the cheers and applause of approval from the other students, Rica confidently declared that she made it.

So much apprehension for nothing it seemed. I took her aside to congratulate her and to let her know that it’s also okay to not get what we aim for as long as we did our best. This is by knowing that battles may already be lost by not trying, or it could already be won by just showing up. The fear of failure is paralyzing and may lead to nothing but “could have beens”. Indeed, it takes one to know one.

Original photo by aussiegall

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Bookmark and Share

It’s been two weeks since our two older kids started school. They are in a new school, new environment, new policies and lots of other things new to them. Some of the changes were immediately accepted like wearing of school uniform.

With their former Montessori school, for four years, they enjoyed the freedom of deciding what to wear...no uniform, except for P.E.  Surprisingly, they enthusiastically welcomed wearing one now. They are always excited to wear them and even thought of it as “cool.” Rica even complemented her younger brother with "Ang pogi ni Leon" when the latter wore his uniform for the first time.

Before, they only need to carry a small bag with extra clothes, food and a blue binder where parent notices and some school works are inserted (also, each student have their own locker in school). This time, they need to carry 7 to 8 textbooks, 7 to 8 notebooks (depending on grade level), pad papers, crayons, and other school materials every day. A bigger and sturdier bag is therefore a must. The question is… do my children have the strength and endurance to carry all those stuff?

We tried using our son’s old backpack and bought a similar one (only it’s pink) for our daughter. The bags look big and robust enough to contain all the required school materials. However, the very first time they carried the bag, they immediately complained of its enormous weight. They can hardly lift it. Still we decided to give it a try and hope that the kids get used to it.

It was explained to them that trolley bags are too expensive and besides a little more exertion on their part to carry their bags makes them tougher kids. We admired them for obediently abiding by the decision. But one morning as Papa Sez was carrying the bag to the school shuttle service, the strap of Leon’s bag broke. He even attested that even an adult with small body built will have difficulty walking with it, let alone climb the stairs. Heavy school bags have been linked to back problems like lower back pain, poor posture, spinal deformity over time and other back injuries manifested only in adulthood. The daily burden has also been found to cause neck pain, shoulder strain, headaches and general exhaustion. It was said that carrying more than 10% the child’s body weight is too much but we noted that our kids have been carrying loads of about one third their body weight.

Then one Friday night, Rica, who has been carrying a heavier bag and had to carry that weight to the second floor where her classroom is situated (the school actually has male assistants assigned to carry the bags up the stairs for the students), broke her silence. “Mom, please don’t wake me up very early tomorrow. I need lots of time to sleep and recover. I am really tired with my shoulders badly aching. School is fun if only I don’t need to carry a very heavy bag.”

A new decision came in quickly…we need to get them trolley bags or their health would suffer. Trolley bags for school provide the convenience of carrying loads of things while keeping them organized inside, but the price is equivalent or even more expensive than heavy duty traveling bags. Well, they are made of the same materials.

trolleyThe season for buying school materials was almost over when the kids and I finally get to the store to buy their trolley bags, which actually got us a good deal!  Most school bags were marked down for the second time already and the ones we bought were about 30% cheaper than the original price.

Now they are happier with their trolley bags at work and not their backs.

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter
Bookmark and Share

When certain concepts and trends in animal behavior is used to explain human behavior, the writer regardless of the background (whether biology or journalism) has to be careful about treading a dangerous line between being misunderstood by the general public or misrepresenting the knowledge in the effort to make it understandable.

Allow me to try this one out about fatherhood in honor of all fathers as the world celebrates Father’s Day on June 20.

As a biologist and behaviorist, I studied proximate (how) and ultimate (why) causes of animal behavior. In this blog, I just want to articulate what might already be apparent to some of us fathers…that fatherhood is a blessing.

For proximate causes, fatherhood confers immediate (short-term) benefits to men that encourage them to take on the challenging role of a father. I have a previous blog that outlines the benefits of being a father that include: making one happier, helping become a better man, improving self-understanding, and enhancing self-actualization. There’s also the benefit of having a readily available stress relief in the scent of one’s baby.

Therefore, despite difficulties, we take the plunge… into an adventure like no other. Not only because of various cultural (including religious) expectations or reasons such as: (1) men should settle down and start a family, (2) raise kids for continuance of the family line, (3) take on the God-given mandate to go forth and multiply, (4) have an insurance to old age, and even (5) add farm or house help, but also there are psychological and physiological advantages manifest in fathers.

Cultural reinforcements or emphasis on continuance of family line is a manifestation of ultimate causes (long-term benefits) to fatherhood. It is desirable for men to start a family as those that have done so are more likely to have representations in the gene pool of the next generations. The behavior of raising healthy and happy children by creating a nurturing family environment makes intuitive sense because these children are more likely to survive and succeed in contributing to the gene pool, which is an ultimate cause.

People may have a variety of reasons in taking the leap into fatherhood. But whether cultural, religious, biological, practical and other personal reasons, fatherhood simply makes sense and is thus a blessing in the long and short of it.

Three cheers to the global brotherhood of men who took on the challenge and keeping on!  Happy Father’s Day!

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Bookmark and Share

My Summer Specials

Posted by Papa Sez | Thursday, June 10, 2010

by Rica Emmanuele

June 5, 2010 - My summer vacation was so fun because we went to a lot of places in the Philippines. We did not ride a plane but we road our car and two ferry boats.

When we reached Luzon, we even had more fun. We saw Butanding (whale shark) and fireflies in Sorsogon. When we were on the boat going to look at the Butanding, I was so excited! We were going to see a real live whale shark at last! I jumped out of the boat two times because I wanted to see it again.

We also rode a boat along a river going to the fireflies. When we saw them, they were on a tree. They looked so beautiful. And because the fireflies are so plenty and they shine so bright, the tree really looked like a Christmas tree.

We also went to San Pablo City to see our cousins Bea and Kuya Adrian, and their parents, Tita Abbie and Tito Alan. They taught me how to ride a bike and to play Wii.

I know how to ride a bike if it has training wheels but their bike has no training wheels, so they taught me how to balance with only two wheels.

The games in their Wii were Wii Sports, Show King and Dragon ball Z. It was fun playing all of them but the best game for me is Wii Sports, especially tennis.

In Los BaƱos, we saw Lola Net, Lolo Crispin, Tito Ninong, Tita Tin and Tito Jay. Tito Jay taught me how to draw Manga and now I am getting good at it. Tita Tin taught me how to tie my hair and she taught me how to play dress up with matching picture taking.

I met new friends. Their names are Leanne, Utoy, (Leanne’s brother) and JM. Leanne taught me how to play Chinese Garter and Piko. Once, we even played in the UPLB Freedom Park.

Once, I had a sleepover in Forestry. It is where Tita Bing and Tito Jun live. I stayed there for two nights. There were lots of other kids older than me who were staying there.

Sometimes, we go to the swimming pool and play there. Papa also taught us how to swim.

Once or twice or thrice, hmmm I don’t know how many times, we slept in Ninang Amy’s House. She had an air bed and we slept on it. She also has lots of books. Leon and I enjoyed reading some of her books. She also has a chess board but we did not get to play with it. But all of us four kids did play the keyboards with Ninang Amy one night. Everybody likes to poke his or her fingers on the keys to make a sound, no matter how silly, weird or noisy it may come out.  But it was fun!

When it was almost time for school, we transferred to a house that was small. But then, we transferred to a bigger house beside Lake View Hotel. There, I met more people and friends.

Sometimes we play with them and sometimes I get a chance to play in the computer……… but now it is almost time for school and I can’t play much anymore because I have to get ready for it.

My favorite time in summer was when I swam in the pool with my cousins and the time when I met my Titos, Tita, Lolo and Lola again.

I will really miss my 2010 summer. It was so much fun. But I won’t forget that school is also fun……………☺

There is still another summer yet to come!

Goodbye summer 2010!

Hello school! ☺

Note: More photos of Rica's summer activities will be posted in later blogs. So please come back again soon.

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Bookmark and Share

School has Began

Posted by Papa Sez | Monday, June 07, 2010

Today, I rode the school service with our eight-year-old son. It was not what I had in mind when Mama Sez informed me yesterday that only primary school pupils are scheduled today to have their two-hour orientation for the new school year, and so one of us can take our eldest daughter’s spot in the school service.

It’s good that Mama Sez convinced me to go with our son. It was a chance to show him that he is important and deserves my undivided attention. Besides it’s also his first day in a new, bigger school, and also his first time to ride a school service.

We’ve been psyching our school kids up in recent days to slowly switch them from vacation mode and for them to anticipate a more challenging school environment; not only because they have to adjust to a new school, but also because this particular Montessori school incorporates certain traditional practices that they are not used to.

Besides checking out the school cafeteria and other facilities, I also had time to buy their textbooks and school uniform. I eagerly waited to get some feedback on how it is in his new class. I got the chance when I spotted him on his way to the toilet and got some affirmative remarks from him such as “(his classmates are) not cruel and are actually nice” and “yes, I spoke in class.”

I got more affirmation in the vehicle on our way back when he finally broke his silence and got into an animated conversation with the boys his age. His confidence was showing when he also asked for the name of a younger girl who was part of the group but was silent when he entered the discussion with the boys.

I am confident that he’ll do just fine on his own tomorrow. Well as far as I can tell, he already did better than I did when I was his age in terms of chatting with new acquaintances on the first day of a new school. Now that’s enough to warm my heart for today I did well as a parent.

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Bookmark and Share

Related Posts with Thumbnails

About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.