Okasaneko
(http://blog.hellokitty.com/okasaneko)
A Tubby Tabby, Three Konekos, and a Life with Hello Kitty and Autism

Archive for the 'Kids' Category

On The Sunny Side Of The Street

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I’ve been playing catch-up with Alphonse’s demands for new PECS cards. These days, it seems as if everything is a breeze to him as he absorbs new things with amazing speed and comprehension. 

Object pictures are easy enough to do and over the years, I’ve amassed thousands of pictures of just about everything I could photograph. Action pictures are a lot tougher and sometimes, it takes a few tries before I can capture a single clear picture. I often use burst photography to get as many shots as possible, and even then, sometimes I have to re-shoot multiple times. (Fortunately, Alphonse is always a willing subject. :-) ) After that, I preview the pictures on the computer, choose the clearest ones, and use Photoshop to clean them up. Here are some of the newer ones:

 PECS wear pantsPECS wear socks

The other night, I explained to Alphonse that he needed new pictures again. I asked him if he was okay with posing; in response, he smiled widely and nodded vigorously. When I gave him instructions to “wear pants,” he did so with the utmost speed that I had to ask him to do it over and over again, just to be able to take enough shots. Ditto with the wearing of socks.

Apparently, Alphonse thought I would be taking facial shots too because at each click of the camera, he did this:

More Cheers!

And this:

And pose!

And he did these for all fifty shots!

The sun is shining brightly these days on this side of the street. :-)

Having A Baby

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Kitty has a baby!

My good friend Beth of Fragile What? tagged me for this First Born meme. I am happy to oblige. :-) The sweetest days I’ve ever had were when I was having my babies (in spite of the complications, the morning sickness, the constantly bloated feeling, the watermelon “jugs,” the swollen ankles, and even the unnatural cravings for sardine-flavored ice cream).

1. WAS YOUR FIRST PREGNANCY PLANNED? No

2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Yes

3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? I was ecstatic, so was A.

4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? No

5. HOW OLD WERE YOU? I was 25

6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? I had been feeling nauseated every day, at all hours. Car rides, in particular, made me squirm in discomfort; a long trip would be punctuated with  periodic visits to the bathroom. Alas! My love affair with the toilet bowl had started! 

7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? A, of course! :-)

8. DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? Yes

9. DUE DATE? March 29

10. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? Yes, and it was horrible! I threw up at all hours, not just mornings.

11. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? I hankered for mangosteen, a rich, creamy, sweet-and-sour Yummy mangosteen fruittropical fruit. Local superstition tells us that what a woman craves during pregnancy would influence her child’s features at birth, and while I certainly don’t believe it, old relatives would often remark that my baby’s pale body/ darker face (which was flushed red in infancy) was the effect of the dark rind/white fruit of the mangosteen.

12.  WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? A complained that whenever I got pregnant, I was almost always grumpy with him. Honestly, I can’t remember being irritated by any one person or one thing in particular.

13. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CHILD’S SEX? Male

14. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE  GETTING? A and I wanted to have a girl at first  (we started buying dolls for “her” long before I ever got pregnant). When we found out that we were having a  boy, we were happy too- we were going to have a boy who’d take after his dad and carry on the family name.

15. HOW MANY POUNDS DID YOU GAIN THROUGHOUT YOUR PREGNANCY? With the first pregnancy, around 50 lbs (Yikes!), of which less than 7 was the baby (Double Yikes!).

16. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? No. :-(

17. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? My sisters and girlfriends wanted to have one for me but the baby came early so we opted to get together at the christening. 

18. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? I had gestational diabetes and preeclampsia or hypertension in pregnancy. (I’m not posting any pictures prior to delivery because I was huge and swollen!) I was admitted to the hospital twice for control of blood pressure, the last one being three days just before I underwent an emergency caesarian section. I hadn’t thought I was giving birth so soon. I went for a routine prenatal that day but my blood pressure zoomed to 200/110. Later, the fetal monitor showed that the baby was in distress. The doctors decided to deliver immediately.

19. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? At a small private hospital in the city where the leading obstetrician was my uncle (my father’s elder brother). Because I hardly paid for anything, my first delivery was so cheap! 

20. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? No labor with the first one (but ask me about the second one where I went into labor for 10 hours only to be delivered by CS too- GRRR!). I was so confident I wasn’t going to deliver any time soon that I didn’t even bring anything that day, just a small Hello Kitty handbag with some toiletries.

21. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? My husband A

22. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? Just the doctors and nurses; A wasn’t allowed in by my uncle. Maybe it was just as well, A never got used to seeing blood until a long time later.

23. WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? C- Section

24. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? Yes, but just minimal, some over-the-counter pain relievers. I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain. In fact, three days after the CS, I went shopping for a whole day.

25. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 6lbs 2 oz

26. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN? February 9, six weeks early from the actual due date

27. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Alexander (”defender of men,” “protector of mankind”)

 

 

Baby At Last!

Anyone who’d like to do this tag, please feel free to join. I’d love to hear what your pregnancy stories are too! :-)

Because You Loved Me

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

My Mom

My mom’s birthday is today.  A very young-looking, beautiful 62, she is an accomplished businesswoman in her own right (Go, Reliv, Go!), grandmother of four, mother of five, and wife to a much-loved man.

Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you!

~0~

I wrote this eight years ago in honor of the most important person who shaped my life- my Mom.

My Mom, My Hero

My mother regrets that toward the end of her days, when people ask her what she has to show for, all she has is a house full of children and grandchildren.

At the age of 18, my mother married my 23 year-old dad. It was 1964. Groomed since birth to believe that every woman’s destiny was to be a mother and a wife and nothing else, my mother strongly resented having to subjugate her desires to please everyone else. She wanted to study, but her parents, relics of a forgotten era, thought education was sorely wasted on women. They refused to subsidized her education. She worked and studied for a while, but the money she earned was barely enough for her own needs. Each day, she struggled desperately against her parents and tried to make something of herself against their wishes. She took care of herself and her siblings, and she went to school, often hungry, often without books, pen, or even paper. It was a hard life, with little pleasure and little of everything else.

She met my dad at 17 and fell in love with him. Less than a year later, when he proposed marriage to her, she said yes. She had kids one after the other. By the time she was 25, she had five little kids all below the age of seven. My dad had a tough time trying to get his business off the ground so he spent a lot of time in the makeshift office-cum-factory where he did manual labor from dawn till dusk. Mom was left pretty much alone to care for us.

In the beginning, when finances were tight, my mom put her dreams on hold for all of us. Money that could be spent fro her dreams was money for her children’s food, clothing, and yes, education. The one thing she was deprived of and that she wanted most was the one thing she would insist for all her children- a good education.

So each year, as a new school year commenced, my mother would wrap her dreams for herself all over again and pin her hopes on us, as if we would be able to satiate the burning ambition that raged inside her. The first time she saw her children’s schoolbooks, neatly bound in plastic and arranged in brand-new bags, she wept openly. She remembered all the times she wanted, nay, craved, for new books and bags, for a pair of black shoes, for pen and paper, and was denied of them. She prayed that her children be spared of the same “hunger” that she had grown up with.

Mom and 5 year-old meWhen I was five, I began to realize that behind my mom’s perpetually sunny disposition was a sadness that she could not mask very well. The tension was etched in the sinews of her limbs when she hugged or smothered us with kisses. I could not understand. She was happy when my dad was around, and even happier when all five of us were clowning around her. But late at night, I often heard her muffled cries and my parents’ whispered voices. In the morning, it would seem as I imagined the entire thing, and she would be up again, making us breakfast, back to her cheery self, back to the smiling, giggly, beautiful mommy we all loved.

I found the truth from a maid’s wagging tongue. Everyone knew it, she whispered conspiratorially to me. It was the talk of our little town. My paternal grandmother disliked my mother because she was not “good” enough for my dad. What made it more difficult for her was the fact that my grnadmother lived in the house right behind us and mom had to bear with hurtful criticism and unfounded gossip every day. Mom pleaded with my dad to move, but dad loved his family too much. He worked tirelessly to support his widowed mother and his siblings. He begged for mom’s patience. He asked my mom with bear with them gracefully and to bear them no ill will. He assured her that they would learn to love her once they got to know her. They will soon see what he found so special in her, he promised. But they never did.

Because we were my mom’s children, we never felt we quite fit in with my cousins. My cousins were always seen as more important, more beautiful, brighter, or smarter than we were. When we were very young, we tried hard to please my father’s family, but all they gave us were patronizing smiles and pats on the head. I have no memories of being hugged or kissed by any of them. Often, my grandmother would make fun of my flat nose or my chinky eyes, openly favoring my cousins’ long lashes and aquiline nose. I never cried, thought I bottled up all the hurt till my heart turned into stone.

My mom knew that we hurt from our relatives’ rejection and she gave us kisses and hugs to make up for it. She taught us to hold the pain, to realize its enormity in our young lives, and to use it to make us stronger. She always gently reminded us that as long as we loved ourselves, no other person could hurt us again. Often the five of us would fall asleep all around her, a tumble of legs and arms, as she sang us songs to heal our wonded hearts.

Growing up, I have a lotof memories of moms’ special moments with each of us. Her childhood stories made up a lot of our afternoons. She read little Jasmine stories in different voices. She told Jeff and John war adventures and ghastly ghost stories passed on to her by her father. She watched intently, half in fascination and half in horror, as Joee performed a complex spidergirl routine of climbing walls and jumping off high places. Many afternoons were spent baking us cakes and letting us lick the spoons clean of batter. She had a gift for making good food and she made us all kinds of treats. Nights, she braided three little girls’ long hair and set them in curlers. She stayed up late when exams were around the corner, making reviewers and sample tests for my siblings, all in long hand. She brought us to school every moining, putting her make-up on while the car was moving, at the same time running through her checklist of other things that needed to be done. She was just ALWAYS there.

When my dad suffered four strokes in a span of a year almost nine years ago, our family was devastated. Twice in those four times, the emergency room physicians had turned us away from looking on as they struggled valiantly to save his life. Dad spent many months in critical care. Mom and I stayed in the hospital with him, and she fed him, bathed him, and loved him even when he was too out of it to know. One night, long after the steady stream of visitors had gone, I asked her what she thought our future would be. I remember her reply, for it is something that struck me deeply. She said, “I’m not afraid. I’ll take your dad any way I can. I just want him alive.” 

Shortly after, dad’s relatives took over his business and disowned us. My mother patiently nursed him to full health, but the emotional pain he suffered pushed him into deep depression. Mom took over the reins of the family while my dad recovered. She became the rock that anchored us together. She kneaded and baked bread till the weary hours of the morning to keep the money coming in. In those times of hardships, she taught us to hold on to our faith. Praying over dad constantly, she taught him to forsake his material loss and empty his pain to the Lord. For close to five years, she was the sole spirit that buoyed our flagging hopes.

I shared a lot with my mom. When I was young, we kept each other company during nights when dad stayed up late to close shop. Some Saturdays, the three of us would be up at two in the morning, eating pâté  and bread and discussing the day’s events with each other. I liked hanging around her, watching her put on make-up. She was always beautiful, always glamorous. I liked watching her choose clothes and try them on, one by one. She in turn, loved taking pictures of me- pictures of my first day in medical school, my high school prom, my first date, my first serious boyfriend. She wrote me letters every so often, tackling sensitive issues like crushes, my changing body, falling in love, premarital sex, and yes, the undying theme of excellence. For a long time, she was my best friend. She was always my soft place to fall on.

Mom taught me to reach for my dreams very early in life. She taught me courage when the pretty girls in grade school bullied me senselessly. She taught me to fight back not with my fists but with my brains. She encouraged to to try out for things I wanted to do, like ballet and gymnastics, even when my pudgy body seemed oout of sync with te requirements of the dance. The important thing, she continuously emphasized, was that I was not afraid to try new things, to see diffeerent perspectives, to take on bigger challenges.

I understand now that I was a favored child. I was not beautiful the way my sisters were. I was timid and soft-spoken, taciturn, quiet and aloof. But I loved my parents unabashedly and they, in turn, showered me with more love than I could imagine. Yet one day, I did something that hurt them deeply. I turned my back on medicine.

Mom pinned all her hopes on her first daughter. She placed her dreams of being somebody other than a wife and mother squarely on my shoulders. It was not a burden, I believe that still, but after a time, I came to realize tnat I could not fulfill my spirit in the way everyone expected me to. On the day I told her I was putting my career on indefinite hold, my mother wept once again. I carried that image of her for a long time, my mom slumped in her arms, weeping quietly, trying to make sense of my decision. We carried on a running conversation days after; she repeatedly asked me questions, I parried her with shrugs and smiles. After a while, I just stopped explaining. I een stopped listening. I know I hurt her by my seeming eagerness to throw away years of their sacrifice, just when the star I’ve reached for  was almost at hand.

And so, my mom sees herself as a failure in a lot of ways. All she has is a house full of children and grandchildren to show for her 54 years.

But you see, mom, you are not a failure. You are my hero. You were always my hero. I took a step back from medicine because I wanted to be there for my children, the way you were when I was growing up. I wanted to look back on children’s early days and remember afternoons spent telling them stories. I didn’t want them to miss any moment with me. I grew up whole and healed because you were there. I didn’t want Alex and Alphonse to grow up on me. Their bandaged shins would not wait. Their little spills and tumbles needed a mother’s kiss. I wanted to be there with them as they started their monrnings and still be there at night to tuck them in. I wanted them to remember songs I taught them. I wanted to be you.Mom and Adult Me

Life is too short to waste on regrets. You haven’t wasted your life. Mom. Even as I write this, I am passing on your legacy to my children. They will always know how it is to be loved. My dreams were made on the kisses you showered me, on the letters you sent me throughout my young life, on the the faith you showed your short, pudgy, unbeautiful daughter. You always knew I was good enough to be anything I wanted to be.

Don’t worry about me, mom. I may have taken a detour in life, but today, I am doing the things I love. I have made a real home with my husband. Each day, I am blessed with opportunities to help two boys reach perfection. I write about faith and trust and belief. I write about truth and family. I write about love. And I live it everyday.

You will always be my hero, mom.

And all because you loved me.

Apron Strings

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Sleeping like a babyI woke up very early this morning with a feverish child cuddled by my side. His breathing was raspy and shallow. Alphonse was hot, yet he was shivering from the cold of the airconditioning. I turned off the cold air and covered him with a light cotton blanket. After a while, his breathing became more regular and peaceful. I let him sleep.

As I read a book quietly by his side, I thought about how much this child, nay, young man, still needs me and his father, even at thirteen. Where neurotypical children of his age are raring for independence, Alphonse still clings to us like a little baby. He needs us for many things, most of all, his security. Many times, he would wake up in the middle of the night just to check if we were there beside him. When I work late at nights, he would fetch me from whatever it is I am doing and beckon me to go to bed. And when A and I are late coming back from a movie or dinner date, he would be sitting in the garage, waiting for us to come home to him.

Yes, of late, he has been more independent, more willing to try out things for himself. He feeds, bathes, and dresses himself, with very little help from us at all. Sure, when he eats he can be very messy as he has not mastered the art of the fork (we use a large tray to catch his spills), and yes, sometimes, he puts his underwear on backwards. Yet each time he does these things for himself, he looks to us for approval, for a sign that we appreciate what he has accomplished for himself.

His big brother, on the other hand, is the opposite. At fifteen, he relishes his independence and guards it zealously. He is quick to barrel through the world with all its ugliness and harshness, knocking down obstacles like one swats flies. These days, he struggles against our apron strings and pulls them taut many times, as if to test our limits as parents. He is no longer a child, and becoming more and more of his own man.

Once upon a time, A and I imagined a time when we would be empty nesters, when the children were grown and responsible for themselves. Perhaps we could travel the world then. Perhaps we could retire in some obscure but picturesque village in his father’s native province. And then, looking at a sleeping Alphonse in the middle of our family bed, A and I quickly dismiss the thought. We would never be empty nesters, and while there comes a twinge of sadness with this thought, there is happiness in it too. Alphonse will never know how it is to be alone and unloved.

More Mother’s Day Adventures

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Mother’s Day started out with a whimper and a groan but ended with a bang. I woke up bright and early to find my beloved santol tree massacred by the man we hired to prune it. A gave specific instructions to cut only the branch that was putting a little too much weight on the concrete fence, but the man, who really did mean well, got a little too carried away with the cutting frenzy and mangled almost half the tree. I was very upset.

Santol Tree- Before and After

Mother\'s Day Rose

To mollify me, A handed me the flowers he had ordered for Mother’s Day, a dozen of the most beautiful pink Ecuadorian roses I’ve ever seen. I was really very happy to receive those beautiful flowers but that morning’s pruning carnage had gotten my underpants in a knot.  I am deeply regretful now that at that moment,  I failed to show my appreciation for this most loving gesture. Dwelling on the bitter events of that morning had soured my disposition, in the process, hurting the one I love most. I saw A’s eyes darkened a bit with sadness when he gave me the flowers. I knew he felt as if I had taken his gift for granted. Later, I apologized to him and asked for forgiveness for my insensitivity.

My Roses

Because I was still so caught up in the morning’s events, I forgot to take pictures of the beautiful bouquet. Then too, a little while later, Alphonse came over and plucked a flower to munch on so I hurriedly transferred the flowers from their pink and cream raffia wrappings to a vase. Only after I had dismantled the wrappings did I realize that I had forgotten to take pictures. :-(

The flowers were last in A’s list of gifts. (His generosity is such that he never gives just one.) Midweek, he gave me a limited edition Switcheasy pink iPhone Capsule, a black Capsule and a black Switcheasy VisionClip. He hadn’t intentionally planned to give them that early; I caught him sneaking in the gifts and he had no choice but to ‘fess up.  A also bought me Hello Kitty gifts- an authentic Sanrio pink and green water bottle (he says it’s from Alphonse) and a SIGG red and white reusable water bottle. Oh, what joy! (I was actually expecting a Hello Kitty Fender Dreadnought acoustic guitar -*hint! hint!*- but I love anything A has to give me.)

Sunday afternoon, we watched Dulaang Sibol’s presentation entitled “INA” (Mother). The boys were totally in their element. Onstage, they shined so brightly that parents and guests alike had perpetual smiles pasted in their faces. Most memorable during the performance was their offering of red roses to their mothers while they sang a medley of The Carpenters’ love songs.

The Dulaang SibolMr. P with the DS sophomores

But “INA” wasn’t simply about us, their mothers. The boys also performed about love for mother nature, for mother country, and Mother Mary. They sang, danced, and recited complicated oratorical pieces. At the end of the show, they were visibly tired but very proud of what their efforts had achieved in just two weeks. Mr. P called on to each boy, from sophomores to juniors and seniors, and gave a short anecdote about each one. Every one of them were beaming in pride and happiness, as we, the audience were.

Mr. P

The show ended quite early, with enough time to squeeze in dinner or a nightcap of hot chocolate. Still, we were all anxious to go home. After all, what was Mother’s Day if one of the reasons for my being a mother – Alphonse- wasn’t with us? True enough, we arrived home just in time as we were greeted with the whoops of joy of a boy who seemed to miss us terribly in our three-hour absence.

Mother’s Day ended with a prayer that night. Cuddled in each other’s arms, we had celebrated another milestone in our lives as a family. As I turned in that night, I prayed the santol tree will live another day, surrounded by the family who loves each other so.  

“Do I Make You Proud?”

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Alex in BusinessWorld May 9-10, 2008 edition

My son Alex’s first Mother’s Day gift turned out to be one of the best- he got himself published! :-)

Around a week and a half ago, having gotten off theater practice early, he, A and I caught the advance screening of Speed Racer at SM Megamall Cinema 1. I think he must have been really impressed with the movie as he set to write about it as soon as he got home that night. He submitted it to BusinessWorld for the arts and leisure pages, and thankfully, it landed on the Weekender. Proud father showed me a copy last Friday when he got home from work. (Above is a screen shot of the online edition. You can check it out here.) Alex was all smiles as he asked me to keep a copy for him, and asked his dad to get another copy for Mr. P, his theater teacher.

“Advanced Happy Mother’s Day, Ma,” he whispered as he gave me a peck on the cheek.

Alex often sings “Do I make you proud?,” Taylor Hicks’ song when Hicks won American Idol (Fifth Season) two years ago. Now, when he belts into song, I sing back, “You always do.”

See With New Eyes

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

This is Alphonse. All of 13 years old, he is a handsome young man who makes girls swoon with his movie star features.

Alphonse

He’s an active fellow. He likes to walk a lot, sometimes deep in thought, as if pondering on the problems of the world. Other times, he can’t contain himself and he gallops, arms waving wildly, smiling broadly for the world to see.

He likes to play with bubbles. (So do I!) He’s rather lazy when it comes to writing. He hates to color, though he does like a lot of splashy colors in his clothes. His favorite color is pink. (Mine too!) He digs Hello Kitty, making him my best friend in our home.

While he has a soft spot for Kitty, he is all boy, too. He likes rough horseplay with his brother. When big brother wrestles with him, he squeals like a little girl. Big brother teases him endlessly until Alphonse gets even by sticking a wet finger in Kuya’s ear.  

He likes smells of all sorts. Ehrm, even the nasty ones (think earwax).  :-) But he absolutely loves the scent of chocolate baking.    

Like many teenagers, he can spend an entire day watching movies. He hates horror stuff though. Musicals and cartoons never fail to capture his interest.

He loves music, too. In fact, the iPod is his new best friend. His favorite song: Miracle Child from Joseph King of Dreams. (Is he telling us something there?) Sometimes, though, he makes us all laugh by plugging his ears with his brother’s cellphone strap.

Outside our home, he loves watching trees sway in the wind. He looks at the clouds and squints to see shapes and lights. He waits expectantly for rain everyday; rain makes him smile. But don’t ever let him near a tree as he is totally enamored with falling leaves. Too bad if the leaves are still intact as he plucks them out gently one by one till he makes a soft pile to kick and jump on. You should hear his laughter then.  

He smiles a lot. When he does, our knees buckle with tender admiration for this gorgeous boy. In return, he teases us a lot.

     “Are you a boy?” No (serious mien)

     “Are you a dog?” No (gives a slight grin)

     “Are you a pig?” Yes (wolfish smile)

     “Is your father a pig?” No. (wide grin)

     “Is your mother a pig?” Yes. Yes. Yes. (loud guffaws from him)

This is Alphonse, son, brother, movie buff, music addict, nature lover, and half-pig - a boy just like any other.

  Cute pig

And oh, by the way, he is autistic.  

Mommy’s DAYS Out Part III

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

InvitationSunday, we brought Alex back to school early morning for Mass and more practice with his friends. I squeezed in a few errands after that and by early afternoon, I was dead tired. Three days of nonstop activities were too much for me. I was beginning to feel my age (Alex’s favorite line), it seemed, so I allowed myself a power nap before I got ready to go to Alex’s performance .

There’s a side story to this, one worth telling. I was so sleepy Sunday afternoon that even as I was debating with myself on whether to set the alarm on my clock or not, I had dozed off. I figured that I would wake up long before the time I needed to get myself ready. And so I slept soundly for the first time in days, drool collecting at the corners of my mouth, until I awakened suddenly…to the sound of my mother-in-law’s voice. Yes, my mother-in-law, now gone almost three years, and her distinct voice saying loudly and clearly “wake up…gonna be late.” I was startled into wakefulness. I jumped out of bed, put on make-up in a hurry, and made it with enough time to spare. (I did pass by the church ossuary to say thanks to Mom.)

Alex as Marat in “The Bashkir And His Prize”

(Alex, at right, as Marat, and friend R, as the General) 

And what can I tell you about “Unang Lipad?” Alex was part of  the play The Bashkir And His Prize, one of three plays they put up that night. This was a story of a Bashkir general who wanted too much but lost all in the end, an  adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How Much Land Do You Need?” Alex played  Marat, one of the three Bashkir folk the General  met along the way. 

I was in awe at my son’s ease on stage and the way he said his lines with conviction. He exuded confidence so visibly that I was dumbstruck at his ability to relate to the audience. I’ve never seen him that way before. The Alex I know has always been a little reticent and often ill-at-ease with large crowds. Yet that night, I saw my son as I had never seen him before- a self-assured young man whose talents clearly shone through. He acted with flair, sang with a passion, and even danced (and believe me,  he never dances).

I was also amazed at the other aspirants and I felt as proud of them as I did my son. It was difficult to believe that these polished actors were 14 or 15-year-old boys, mere high school freshmen. Their confidence and poise on stage were unbelievable!

Singing Their Hearts Out

(The Aspirants)

Towards the end, just before a series of song and dance routines where every aspirant  was allowed to show off his talents, they spoofed the seniors of the Theater  Club, and the crowd went wild with their almost-perfect impersonations.

(see Alex below, in yellow Kobe Bryant jersey)Spoof Play

Spoofing Mr. P

(even Mr. P had his own impersonator!)

The theater was full that night and as the guests departed, the boys lined up to thank those who made it to their first performance.

Goodbye and Thanks to the Audience

Afterwards, A and I snuck back inside the theater to watch the boys in a huddle with their beloved mentor, Mr. P. Surrounded by a circle of boys, Mr. P prayed with them, lavished the boys with praise and encouragement, and dispensed timely advice.  The boys’ faces shone with respect and pride: they had made their teacher proud.

Post-play Huddle

The Dream Team with Juniors

We made it home near midnight, tired, hungry, but happy. To see Alex welcomed in a circle of friends filled our hearts with joy. Here, at last, he has made a place for himself under the sun. It was a beginning.

Mommy’s DAYS Out Part II

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Welcome Banner

Saturday was Alex’s Family Day. Originally, we had planned for Alex and myself to be there at nine and stay till four in the afternoon, and Alphonse and A to follow only at lunch time to cut on waiting time. With Alex’s theater club working overtime, however, we had to scuttle our plans and squeeze a few hours with them before Alex went back to acting practice.

Go,Go V!Alex and I were part of the Blue Team, which, before we left, was tied with the Yellow Team at 1-1. The Yellow Team trashed us horribly in father-and-son basketball- 33 to our 16 points- but then again, they had a deeper bench and could make substitutions readily when someone was tired. I think we had a better team (our boys were really good players), but because some of our dads had knee injuries, our playing dads were forced to stretch themselves to their limits. The Yellow Team was so confident of a win that they even substituted a mom for one of the dads (rubbing salt to our injured egos);  V sure showed us how to play basketball in style. (Go, Go, V!)

The Blue Team won in the milk-drinking contest. I wish I could show you how cute our boys looked chugging down milk from baby bottles (!) but we all promised them that they will never ever find humiliating photographs of themselves on the Internet. :-)

My Gorgeous Friends C, C,and S

Before Alex and I left, we shared lunch with the class (26 boys and their families came) and took a souvenir photo of all of us. The food was delicious and plentiful; it seemed everyone brought something for everyone else. We had lunch, picnic style, under the shade, picking off from each other’s plates, feasting on E’s pork adobo, and C’s chicken galantina and green Indian mangoes with bagoong (shrimp paste), and many other delightful dishes from our generous co-parents.

B FamilyAlex and I missed the last games of the day, held after lunch, as we had to rush back to school for more practice. Gorgeous S sent me a message a little after four to give me the good news! The Blue Team won! Yahoo!

Recreated iPhone messageMore on Mommy’s DAYS Out Day Three next…

Light Bulb Moment

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Kitty Light Bulb MomentIt rained heavily today, and Alphonse, seeing the opportunity to play in the downpour, was all worked up and excited. From my sickbed, I could hear him yelling in joy, his shouts becoming increasingly shrill as the rain splashed even louder against the roof. As soon as his class was over, he didn’t even bother to look for me in the bedroom or kitchen (as is his daily practice); he simply ran off outside. I could hear his whoops and screeches and laughter from upstairs.

A few minutes later, it dawned on me that he might not be adequately dressed to play in the rain. And I was right. He had taken off all his clothes and was running around in his birthday suit. (Thank God for high fences!) His arms were stretched to the heavens, and he was twirling, spinning, and jumping in joyful abandon. Were I oblivious to who he is, I would’ve said he was a ballet dancer dancing in the rain (ehrm, make that a naked ballet dancer), so graceful and so rhythmic were his movements. :-) He had his eyes closed and a beautiful smile lit up his rain-drenched face. 

He seemed so happy that I felt compelled to run up to him and give him a kiss.

As I drew nearer, however, I suddenly noticed a perceptible change in his expression. He looked at me with a puzzled face, the small knit of his eyebrows erasing any trace of the smile a few seconds before. As soon as I was within range, he plucked my eyeglasses off my face and paused. I held my breath, trying not to hyperventilate. (Inside, however, my mind was screaming, “No, not again!” but I didn’t want to do anything abrupt that might upset him.)

He looked at the  little droplets of water running over the lenses, and the knit turned into a frown, as if remembering something horrible or disturbing from the past. His hands gripped the frame harder, twisting them slightly.

I felt time stop as a light bulb went on in my head. Suddenly, it occurred to me that  something about my glasses — some minuscule change in them — made him unsettled or angry or frustrated.

The water. Yes, the droplets of water running over them — that was the common theme.

The last time he mangled my lenses, I was helping him bathe and I could remember that my glasses were a little wet from his splashing around in the bath. He seemed puzzled and somewhat repulsed, as far as I can tell, from the beads of water on my lenses. I had related this episode to his anxiety over the changes in his daily routine, but what if it was an add-on source of discomfort to an otherwise already uncomfortable day? What if these two were unrelated?

Alphonse has always loved water. He could make a fountain of water dance magically in the air with just two fingers and the slightest change in pressure between them. He could sit on a large basin filled with water for hours (if we let him) and pour and splash and do all sorts of things with it with his hands. But when water strikes a glass pane, as in rain pouring down windows, he would track the beads of water as they dropped and, seeing them disappear in the thin gutter between the window and the pane, would often whine irritably. Was this the same thing?Alphonse and the Hose

I am sooo a dunce! Why didn’t I see this before?

I was silently berating myself over this when as suddenly as he had taken my glasses, he simply handed them back to me without a sound, my eyeglasses bent but none the worse for wear. Perhaps the rains made him a little more forgiving and less anxious, I really couldn’t tell.

Then he was off again, arms stretched out like the wings of an airplane, flying in a whirl of water, dancing in the rain.