Saturday, May 29, 2010

Postcards from Paradise

The summer heat is going nowhere, and when our bedroom air conditioner went on the fritz, we dug out the gift certificate for the two-night island resort stay Big A won last year at a golf tournament, booked the flights, and hied off to have some fun in the sun.

This was Little A's first beach trip, so we weren't sure what to expect. He loves to swim but has never experienced salt water, and only recently started walking on grass, so we wondered how he'd take to sand, even the talcum-powder fine version found on Boracay Island.

As for Big A and myself, the last time we'd gone to this beach together was in 2002, and much had changed on the island since then. It had gone from a little known paradise to a fully commercialised locale complete with Starbucks in just five or size years.

The resort we stayed at was on the opposite side of the island from the hustle and bustle, and we did appreciate the tranquillity, especially after a visit to the other side for dinner with my best friend and her family.

Little A loved the Kid's Adventure Zone with its giant slide and soft play area. He also loved being in the water, and didn't seem to mind the saltiness (though he was very careful not to swallow it). He didn't like the sand at all, and for some reason did not really enjoy our beautiful hotel room.

On the whole, it was a lovely two days, apart from being delayed and then diverted to another airport for the flight back. We do hope to visit the beach as a family again, and perhaps stay a little longer next time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To Each His Own

During our last little family holiday, I came across this comic strip in the newspaper. Since these are the days when we can make digital copies of everything, there was no need to clip it out, though in hindsight, maybe I should have done so and pasted it into Little A's baby book.

My son will be three in six weeks, and he has yet to begin speaking properly. He's continuing to make progress with Occupational Therapy, but we are still waiting for him to start talking.

The comic strip made me realize how much we judge people based on what is considered to be "the norm". What is "the norm", anyway? And who invented it? Who said that man couldn't be an island when and if he chose to, for certain periods of time?

Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes strips are so clever that there was even a philosophy teacher who did a short course on them every year at the university I attended. I salute people like Watterson, who dare to question what others set as the way to do things. Naturally, I wish for my son to experience the same things his father and I did, but I also realize we do not fully comprehend that in his own way, his experiences may be fulfilling enough. He has his joys and his frustrations, as do we all, and perhaps, for now, that is enough.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Running in the Family

When I was about 3 years old, I ran away from home. Food allergies and lactose intolerance made me a very picky young eater (chimpunk-like, I used to masticate bits of meat and then spit them out later), so there was always war at mealtimes. I'd endured the "no leaving the table until you finish your meal" tactic by falling asleep on my plate several times, so my mother, in desperation, went for the "this is my house and if you want to stay here, you need to follow my rules" approach.

To my three-year old mind, it was made perfect sense. I didn't want to follow the rules by eating my dinner, so I had to get out. I got up from the table, went upstairs, and packed a small bag with my favourite pillow, some underwear and a toy. Then I walked downstairs and out the door.

My mum just stood at the upstairs window and watched me go. My grandparents lived next door, so she was sure I'd just go over to their house. When I walked past it and started to turn the corner, she panicked and chased after me.

I remember clearly that I was heading for the church a few blocks down the road. Whether that was because it was God's house and therefore somewhere else to live or because there was an adjacent school and the nuns might take me in, I really don't know. As my mother dragged me home, I argued that I couldn't go because I was not going to eat my dinner.

Last night, Little A followed in my footsteps. Six weeks shy of three years old and still not speaking, I have no doubt that he does understand most of what's going on, and that my three year old logic and his may have been along the same lines.

I explained that he would be punished briefly for something naughty he'd done, despite the fact that he'd been wearing his "I know I did something wrong and I'm sorry face" and kissed me by way of apology. I told him it was going to be a quick punishment because he needed to learn his lesson. In response, he walked to his room, picked up the toy cash register that had been mine as a child, and walked to the front door wearing nothing but his underwear.

He looked so determined to leave that I opened the door for him, whereupon he walked to the lifts and waited for one to open. I then said he couldn't leave home without a shirt, shorts and shoes at the very least, and this is when he started to scream. Nanny quickly came out with clothes and dressed him while he screamed bloody murder and no doubt made the neighbors wonder if I was a child abuser. One of them came out to go downstairs.

The man smiled down at my son, as if he knew exactly what I was going through. When the lift doors opened, he and Little A stepped in, followed by ever-reliable Nanny. I waved goodbye and went inside to wait.

A few minutes later, I heard the front door open and the sounds of Little A's crying. I went to the door and told him his punishment time was over. He walked into the bedroom and picked up the book he wanted read that night. I started to read and, just like that, we were friends again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Election Fever

Just four days apart, the two countries I consider my homes (the Philippines and the UK) are holding elections. The UK is done, just waiting for the final count, with everything happening smoothly, calmly, and in a typical British fashion.

In the Philippines, however, it is a totally different story. There is no work on election day, a liquor ban two days earlier, and the air cannot be seen for the thickness of mud that is being slung about. Candidates are using anything to fuel the fires and it is just getting so damn ugly that it seems disheartening to even vote for any of them.

Two days to go. And then an interminable wait for the winners, which no doubt will be questioned because of rampant cheating that has happened before and the failure of new machines that will be used for the first time on Monday.

What a joke. There is a song playing in the background of my mind, and it is "Send in the Clowns."