Friday, April 29, 2005

Gino's graduating in June. Time flies!

All in the Family

I'm so delighted that my kids are into music. It's a gift and in their genes. Not a day passes when I don’t hear someone playing on the keyboard or strumming the guitar. Often there’s singing too. My kids aren’t virtuosos but neither did they have substantial one-on-one tutoring except for the initial lessons I gave them. We basically take the same learning route—determination and self-study.

Gino had some experience with the school band, where he learned to play the flute and sax, but he wasn’t taught to read notes. He has become quite adept on the keyboard on his own. He tries to follow the music sheet then ad libs. He also plays the guitar and lately has been wanting to learn the violin. (I do too!)

Mickey, a leftie, has become a dedicated right-hand guitar player. I never thought this would work until a friend suggested it. Now he and some friends are planning to put up an amateur band. He sings popular Pinoy songs made famous by bands like Rivermaya, Eraserhead and Bamboo, and solo artists like Nyoy Volante and Paolo Santos. This makes for good practice on his Tagalog.

Mick finally bought his own Fender Stratocaster electric guitar last Saturday. Light turquoise blue, according to Markus. Mick put a downpayment on it out of his savings from his part-time job at Swiss Chalet. I would imagine that when he gets tired of loading dirty dishes into those huge dishwashers or mopping the floor, the thought of Long and McQuade repossessing his guitar can be highly motivating. That's a good time to sing, HOY! Pinoy akoooh. Buo aking loob ko..., in his head.

Gabriel has his own guitar too, a three-fourth sized classical guitar I gave him on his last birthday. For a long time, he played Jingle Bells and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, both classics, until Christmas went by and he got tired of the nursery rhyme. So I taught him two contemporary Christian songs with more difficult chords like G and F minor. His strumming has improved.

Markus hasn't shown a keen interest in music but he seems to like guitar pics. He looked very cute on the drums though while pounding away or tapping his sticks. I thought he and Gabriel had a lot of fun on the electric drums complete with headphones. Whoever invented electric drums with headphones should be highly commended. That’s my kind of drum! Eardrum-friendly. Quieter than my chopping board.

Still at Long and McQuade, Mickey’s light turquoise blue guitar got my nod out of all the ones hanging on the wall. I fell in love with the colour, and the price was reasonable. Plus it’s Fender Stratoscaster. But what clinched it for me was when the sales rep asked Mickey about his type of music.

“Rock,” Mickey replied.

“Oh, then this blue one will make less noise…” and he went on to explain why while pointing to some features on the guitar neck.

All I heard was less noise and I immediately said, “Yes, that’s it! That’s the one.”

With his guitar signed out (on my Visa), Mick was quite elated. “I will take care of this like a car. Now, I don’t need to have a girlfriend. Woo-hoo!.”

But he still needs that headphone.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Hey, Mickey you're so fine...

Mom Unmasked

When I was single, my friends thought I was a very patient lady. Someone even wrote me a note saying exactly just that. “I can’t imagine you getting angry,” “You never complain,” “You have a quiet and gentle spirit,” they would say. I almost believed them—then I had children.

Motherhood brings out a side of you that you never thought you had. Some call it mean streak. Others call it dark side. I call it everything-ugly-in-me-I-have-thus-far-suppressed-or-denied.

Motherhood tests your patience to the limit, even way over it. It causes temporary insanity as surely as it brings permanent weight gain. It unmasks you, and usually it’s the part of you that sucks. Show me a regular Mom that has never yelled at her regular child at any point in time, and I promise to stop regularly watching Desperate Housewives.

I recall an incident when Gino and Mickey were about 7 and 6. Their squabbling turned into screaming. I tried to keep my cool for as long as I could, which was about one long minute. Finally, I hollered, “WILL YOU TWO STOP SCREAMIIINNNNG?!!!” Practice what you preach, you crazy woman, I heard a voice in my head. Today I hear it still.

To mothers with young kids, don’t fret. Time is on your side. Your kids are growing, and, hopefully, you are.

Friday, April 08, 2005

No Less Feminist

I was attending an art exhibit at the University of the Philippines, my beloved Alma Mater, when I bumped into a U.P. Fine Arts alumna. We introduced ourselves and then she asked me what I was doing. At that time, I had just resigned from my job at the University after a good 10 years and opted to stay home with my two young kids. It was also about this time when I finished my masteral studies except for the comprehensive exams I needed to pass in order to graduate.

Upon hearing this, she smugly remarked, “You should go back to work. I’m a feminist.”

I was taken aback by her statement. I just met her and now she was telling me what to do? The gall! I simply walked away.

As I thought about it, I didn’t see how my decision to stay at home should offend a professing feminist. What did she mean? Was I betraying the cause of women by leaving the workforce?

I wanted to stay home to bring up my boys into responsible men. I wanted to equip them with skills so they can fend for themselves and not equate Mom or wife with maidservant. I wanted them to develop values that will guide them through adulthood, values such as love, faith, respect, integrity, and hard work, and help make this world a better place for everyone—women included. And especially women.

Imagine if I, with God’s help, am able to instill these values in my boys—all four of them now—how many girls or ladies in their sphere of influence will enjoy the benefits?

I stayed home fulltime for about 8 years while my kids were growing up and I have no regrets. I’d still do it if I did not need an income. My brain did not rot during all those years. I did not throw away my education. In fact, those were the years I developed other interests and skills that better equipped me for my present job.

By staying home and being a hands-on Mom, I may have done more service to your cause, my feminist sisters, than if I had carried a feminist placard and marched in feminist rallies.

Gabriel and Mom

Mom and Markus

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Food Samples

I do my major grocery shopping once a week, usually on the weekend. My favourite supermarkets are T&T Supermarket, Hen-Long (both Chinese), Canadian Superstore, and for selected items, Save-On-Foods. I am just beginning to appreciate Costco that opened a new outlet beside my office. Very convenient and very huge, with lots of food samples!

Although I know from experience that it is hardly a good idea to bring kids to my shopping sorties, I habitually invite one or two to come with me to the supermarket. Occasionally they oblige if they expect to get a special item of their choice like a choco bar or some munchies. I spend a bit more when someone tags along but this is one of the occasions I let it slide. It’s still worth the extra time we get to spend together as long as we agree beforehand on what they can ask for and for how much.

Food is great for bonding. Boys love to eat, so it’s always fun to go shopping where there are free food samples. “Come on, guys! Let’s have some tasting food!” I once said in my brainless English to entice Gabriel and Markus to come with me to T&T. “Mom, you mean food samples.” They still tease me about this. Let’s have some tasting food.

One day, while driving to Langley with Gino, Gabriel, Markus to check out a thriftsore, I suddenly felt hungry but it was a bit early for lunch. I had a bright (and thrifty) idea. "Let’s pass by Costco and have some food samples before going to Value Village." The plan was to grab some KFC afterwards. I quickly made a detour.

As we walked past the electronics section, I strained to look for food sample stands until I saw one from a distance.

“Food sample!” I pointed towards the deli section. “Okay, okay, don’t get too excited, boys. Act naturally,” I said as I paced hurriedly, leading the pack.

“Mom, you’re the only one excited.” Gino remarked.

The boys and I sampled each and every item offered. They themselves got very excited, I thought they looked like they had not eaten breakfast.

Costco certainly knows the benefits of having these samples. I ended up buying their products. Wheat tortilla? A big bag of apples?

Moral of the story: Never go shopping with a hungry stomach and free food samples.