Friday, March 26, 2010

Bully for You

At his cousin's second birthday party this afternoon, Little A got pushed a couple of times and smacked around the face by a boy twice his size and probably thrice his age.

The party was a long play session at The Little Gym, which meant there were about 2 dozen children aged one to twelve jumping, running, swinging and throwing things in a large room with padded floors. Plus one adult for every young child and a few teachers. Loud music, screaming kids - pandemonium, in other words.

Little A likes these types of parties, where kids just do their thing and there is no one to force them to play games or sit down. He thoroughly enjoyed himself right up until the end of the party, when some big boys decided to turn two large cushions on their sides and ride them like horses.

He ran up to them, wanting to have a turn. One boy told him to go away because they were already there ahead of him, but he ran forward again with a big smile. At this, another boy pushed him roughly away.

Little A then turned to the other cushion, which had fewer boys crowding it. The boy who'd pushed him already reached over and gave him another shove.

Once can be an accident, but twice is intentional. When the cushion was at last available and Little A bouncing happily on it for about two minutes, the boy ran over from the other size of the room, smacked him on the mouth and pushed him off it so he could get back on.

My son is no sissy, and never complains with rough play or even mild pain, but this smack must have hurt because he put his hand to his mouth and cried for a few seconds. If the party hadn't been at an end, I would have Had Words (to borrow the capitals from a former schoolfriend and fellow blogger) with the boy's mother. But children and parents were leaving and there was general chaos so I just left it.

My sister, the host, was outraged on hearing what happened a couple of hours later, when I discovered that the bully's fingernail had left a nasty red mark on Little A's cheek. Apparently the boy was a brother of one of her son's friends, and had she witnessed the rough play she would have asked the big boys to leave the play area.

I am thankful my son is not an aggressive boy. He loves to hug and goes up to random strange children in shopping centres sometimes. At the playground in our apartment building, he stands at the top of the slide and doesn't let anyone past him to slide down until he's hugged them. While he can hug a little too tightly, I feel that this is miles better than shoving and smacking. And for a boy to be doing this to a much smaller child speaks terrible things of the people who are raising him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dreaming of the Dream King

Tomorrow, Neil Gaiman returns to Manila for a two-day visit. He first came to the Philippines in 2005, when I was fortunate enough to be working for the bookstore that made the trip possible. As then-Media and Publicity Manager, my job was to schedule his interviews, which allowed me to spend a little more time with him than the people who queued for hours just to get a book signed.

Most people who read will agree that this man is more than just the Dream King. One of the best modern-day living writers, he has won countless literary awards and crossed over into scriptwriting, children's and young adult literature as well as storytelling. (Audiobooks narrated by him are fantastic.) He's even done something with stamps.

I first discovered this author in the late 90s. While homesick for the UK and trawling the bookstore aisles, I spotted a novel that featured both a London I longed for and one that was even better than my imaginings. Neverwhere remains my favourite Gaiman book to this day, if only because it features the city I love most in the world.

At any rate, early this morning (I woke up to soothe a fretful Little A from 5-630am and then got another couple of hours' sleep) Neil Gaiman starred in my dream.

As I remember, we were in a large room for some sort of writing workshop before his booksigning was to take place and I mentioned needing to leave early so I could buy one of his books and have it signed later. He gave me a why-don't-you-just-give-it-to-me-now-so-I-can-sign-it-instead-of-joining-the-queue-of-hundreds-later expression.

Then he was offered a granola-type food, which he took, ate and promptly said he loved because it reminded him of a childhood favourite snack, flapjacks. Shortly after this, I woke up.

I have no idea if Neil Gaiman likes flapjacks in waking life, although they are an authentic British snack, but I feel very honoured to have the King of Dreams himself visit one of mine. Tomorrow, I will likely join the thousands of fans waiting to see him in the flesh again.