Thursday, March 30, 2006

Growing good apples

Gabriel is going to high school in September. Markus will remain at Lena Shaw Elementary for another two years, without a sibling at the same school. This early, I am already conditioning my boys for next school year when things will be different.

“Will you be okay by yourself in school? No more Kuya Gabriel to watch you, and tell on you, and be with you going here and there?” I asked Markus at breakfast this morning.

“Mom, all he says to me is ‘Shut up!’” Markus replied in his typically exaggerated manner. “He doesn’t like to play with any of my friends except Gord for some reason. He doesn’t like Charlie and he thinks Howie has a flat face like this,” Markus said as he showed me what he meant by “flat face”.

“You don’t judge a person by appearance,” I told him. “You judge by his character. You should choose your friends wisely…” This led us to a discourse on the matter. “Have you heard the story of the bad apple?

Mickey, who was in the kitchen, reacted with amusement. “Is there a story of the bad apple? What’s the story?” He was curious and chuckling.

“Hmm, the story is…,” I thought for a while, “the bad apple infects the good apple.” Quite a story, huh? I ran out of words.

“Is that always true, Mom?” Mickey asked. “How come my friend Christopher used to swear all the time and now he has stopped? And he’s really trying hard to avoid it…” Apparently, Mickey challenged Christopher about this and influenced him in other ways.

“There are exceptions,” I said. “That’s an exception. Usually it is the bad apple that spoils the good one.” Turning to Markus, I said, “Kuya Mickey is the good apple.” With this, I was hoping to affirm Mickey’s good influence on his friend and not the other way around, and to present Markus with an example in his brother.

Whispering, Markus said, “He’s not completely good, Mom. He hit me. The other day, he threw cards at me.”

Hearing the “whisper”, Mickey quickly reacted, “Do you cry? Then why aren’t you crying?... That’s called a controlled hit.” Mick went on a self-defence mode.

It’s quite often that these boys play rough so when they talk about “hitting” I know it’s the playful type. But, yes, they get hurt roughhousing. And if they go overboard, they have to deal with me.

Mickey has actually tempered his rough streak towards the younger ones, be it ever so slowly. “Kuya Mickey is maturing,” I assured Markus. Gino is past that stage. He is now more of a taskmaster. Wash your plate… Take a shower…

Going back to the apple, I reiterated, “You be the good apple, Markus. And choose good friends.”

Just then, Gabriel joined us at the table. “Oh, here’s another good apple,” I said.

Knowing the power of words to build up or tear down, I’d say I have four good apples in my hands.

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