Growing old

Time is passing by so quickly don’t you think?

I am starting to get scared whenever I look at our kids, they’ve grown so fast. Especially Marcus. I am just glad he doesn’t go out too often (compared to teens his age), but he’s starting to ask permission already. He has someone who he constantly talks to on the phone. Don’t worry I’m ok (kaya pa), just as long as he spends for his celphone load and he sleeps on time.  I don’t have problem with his grades anyway. Zach and Lia, though I can still tell them what to do, are no longer babies as well. Zach even tells me, “Ok, you don’t need to shout” whenever he talks a lot and do not listen to what I say.

One night Gary asked me, out of nowhere, if I really don’t want to have another child. Maybe, he misses a baby in the house. Or like me, he’s starting to feel scared because we can no longer deny the fact that our kids are big already. Btw, my answer to Gary is still no to having another child, I cannot go through the same process anymore. Also, I wanted to have more time with him. To take care of all his needs (his love language is service) that I cannot possibly provide now because I have 3 kids to attend to. I am planning to start having vacation for the two of us starting next year, or maybe sooner, who knows?

I also plan to make more vacations as a family. It doesn’t have to be out of the country all the time, but if only we can afford it we’ll do it. We can go to Baguio, Tagaytay or even in Nuvali where we can use the club house already. I want to create situations wherein my kids don’t have the choice but to spend time with their siblings and their (old, emo and senti) parents. lol

Like 2 weeks ago, we spent our long-weekend in Baguio. Btw, we usually stay at Azalea Residences Hotel because we love how spacious their rooms are and how convenient their location is. We just ate and slept the whole time. This time we tried 2 of the best restaurants in Baguio, Cafe by the Ruins and Forest House, aside from Hill Station which has always been part of our every Baguio trip.

 

photo 1

 

Here you can see the kids’ bed (where Marcus is currently lying down). Gary is watching TV (he prefers to stand when he’s tired of sitting down). Zach, Lia and I are on the dining table. I am having a bottle of beer, Zach is reading the Hotel’s Bible (kulang na lang basahan ako ng verse at i-pray over hehe) and Lia is playing puzzle. On our back is the kitchen where you can find the ref, stove, microwave, sink and cabinets of utensils. On Zach’s right is the bathroom and another room for Gary and myself (though Lia still prefers to sleep with us) which has another TV and bigger closet.

 

photo 2

Picture of our babies-no-more while buying vegetables and Baguio sweets at Strawberry Farm.

I hope we can make many more memories like this.

Why enrol your kids to different schools?

I always get this question. And every time, there is a lag between the question and my answer. I struggle for words to explain that I look for school that would meet each of my child’s needs and not the other way around. I’ve learned my lesson already and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

My eldest son Marcus was diagnosed with mild ADHD. He doesn’t have learning disability, actually his IQ is above average and he is as normal as any normal child can be, except for one, he needs more attention. He would always get a bad remark for his behavior because of that. His psychologist recommended that I enrol him in a school with small class size (15 students or below) so that he can get the right attention that he needs. BUT because I didn’t want Marcus to feel that he has special needs, I still enrolled him in a traditional school. I tried to talk to the guidance councilor and adviser to make sure that his needs are addressed. They made promises that they were not able to keep. When these traditional schools gave up on Marcus, namely Don Bosco Makati and San Agustin, I was forced to look for another school. Blessing in disguise, Australian International School was referred to me.  Since Day 1, they did not disappoint me. Now, Marcus is always on the top 5 (among 15 kids with different nationalities), he has proven his leadership skills, getting (almost) straight As, varsity player in basketball and learning to play the piano and bass with minimum supervision. Opportunities that for sure won’t be presented to him from schools he came from.

My second child, Zach, goes to San Agustin. He fits the traditional school discipline. I honestly would want to pull him out from that school because the number of students there per class is so big already (almost 50), not to mention how they treated my eldest son. But so far Zach is doing well. He has good grades, speaks well and is confident of himself. I don’t want to stop his momentum by transferring him to another school. Maybe in highschool. So what I do now is I enrol him to other activities such as kumon and swimming. I also tell him to read books about important things not usually taught in school, like financial education.

My only daughter goes to Assumption College. She was enroled in a progressive school last year. There was great improvement in her in terms of social skills and independence but I transferred her this year because in terms of acads, they’re not much of a hurry. That scares me because I don’t want Lia to be left behind. Also I want her to get values and religious education. In Assumption, there are 16 students in her class (compared to 20+ in CSA for Kindergarten). I am still observing Lia’s progress, but so far so good. I will also enrol her to special class on top of Kumon.

There. I believe that I am in the best position to identify what my children’s needs are in terms of learning and development. I don’t want to force my kids in an environment which cannot provide my children’s best interest. So help me God.

Raising kids to be entrepreneurs

I grew up believing that I have to study well so that I’ll be employed by a good company, take note, employed. Neither my papa nor mama brought up the idea that it is better if I come up with my own business. Of course there is nothing wrong with being employed, it’s just that allowing kids to see or experience how to have business give them another option.

My kids are luckier than I am. Aside from the fact that I can go home anytime I want and I can bring them to the office, they are exposed to the joys and pains of running a business. They might not understand what’s happening around but I know they can sense the big responsibility that their parents carry. They learn about human resource management because they see how we treat our employees in and out of the office and unknowingly listen when we interview applicants. They meet lots of people. They enjoy the perks of having our own office and coffee shop and think that it is a normal thing. We set high expectation for them without us saying a word. We bring them anywhere we go, official business or not.  I ask Marcus to help me with some repetitive computer tasks just for him to have the feel of having something to be responsible for and yes he gets paid for it, not with money but frappe. lol

I don’t say that one should have a business to raise up future entrepreneurs. You can pay them for the things they do at home (of course you have to explain the objective so that they will not expect to get paid for every chore they do). You can ask them to choose things that they don’t use anymore and sell it. (Balancing it with giving things to less fortunate people). When you travel you can give them money and let them buy things that they can sell back home. You can help them cook/bake something and sell it. And so much more.

I am not sure what my kids are thinking now and what they will become in the future. All I know is that they want to become rich! (My boys said so! haha!)

Mom to a 13 year old

How does it feel and how is it like to have a 13 year old son? You can ask me now.

Marcus celebrates his entry to teenage life today and I feel so blessed to have a handsome, healthy, smart, sweet and loving son. I am proud of him because I know he can handle himself well. I envy his confidence and assertiveness. Quoting his school principal, “Some are born leaders and some followers… with Marcus, he can effortlessly lead and influence the class.” Gary and I have noticed that leadership skill as well, but for educators to point that out (despite his naughtiness) is really something else. That is also why we bring our kids to different countries (even how expensive that can be) because I’ve read in a management book that great leaders are well traveled. Not to mention he’s really into World History that he got an A+ in his report card.

On the contrary, I am also scared because he’s becoming more and more independent, meaning, he doesn’t need much of my time and attention like how my smaller kids do. He wants time for himself. He wants to do things on his own. He kisses and embraces me very fast when in front of his friends and classmates. (Teens! *eyes rolling*)

I am jealous because he is starting to like girls. He even once used “I love (girl’s name)” as password. Ouch! LOL

Being a mother for 13 years, I’ve experienced the joys and pains of parenthood. It was definitely a learning and re-learning process. But he may be a teenager now, almost as tall as I am, outsmarts me in some things, may have watched more movies than I did… he will still and always be my first born baby.

Clumsy Smurf

Have you seen the Smurfs Movie? If so, it would be difficult to miss Clumsy Smurf. And if you’ve spent time with my son, Zach, it would be equally difficult not to see their similaries. Haha! We’re not making fun of my little boy but it’s just really funny to see how similar they are (whatever!). I used to be bothered about Zach’s clumsiness. He would fall all by himself just walking or running, without anything to cause him to slip or tip over. When he eats, his food is everywhere and he usually spills his drink. Marcus and Lia developed their physical skills and became independent faster than Zach. But then I realized that Zach must be ‘taking his time’ growing up and I don’t want to push things. Besides, intellectual ability wise, he belongs to the cream of the crop. So now what we do is to continually motivate him to keep up the good work and help him overcome his weaknesses with practice. Again, if you have seen the Smurfs movie, Clumsy smurf turned out to be the hero in the end. It may be too big for Zach to digest the overcoming-your-weakness idea, but I know he understood that you don’t need to be perfect to be the best. (Or something to that effect). Btw, Lia claims she’s smurfette. Strong-willed and papa’s girl she is, why not? La la lalalala… sing a happy song. :)

 

In good hands

I am slowly getting over the bad feeling I had with Colegio San Agustin and some of its educators. They recommended Marcus to be transferred to another school because of his behavior. It pains me because some students would repeat grade level several times or attend classes every summer while Marcus who doesn’t study much never gets a failing mark. He even gets very good grades in major subjects like math and science and yet he was ‘kicked-out’. I must admit he’s really a handful but we never tolerated all those bad actions that he did. I just thought that my efforts in explaining to concerned personnel that Marcus was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD wouldn’t turn out to be a futile attempt. The teacher was telling me that I could ask the Principal (a foreigner priest) for a reconsideration. What for? For me and my son to make promises to him and make my son feel that he is a terrible child. Never mind.

I know that one factor that made matters worse was when a parent wrote a letter to the Principal and PTA Officers to petition Marcus out of the school, treating my son like a monster. The adviser admitted that the parent was a bit over-acting. I humbly asked the adviser that I am open to a discussion so that the parents could hear my and my son’s side of the story. They didn’t ask for one which made me more convinced that those parents didn’t care a bit about my son.

I would have wanted to pull-out Zach as well but Zach was doing good and he likes the school so I cannot really sacrifice that just because I had a bad experience with my other son. But given the chance, I really would.

I just have a few message to those parents and concerned CSA educators;

1. I thank you because you made me realize that I shouldn’t have entrusted my son to CSA in the first place. I just thought that I enrolled my son to the best school within the vicinity. I was so wrong. Australian International School (previously Esteban school) is way way better than your curriculum and more importantly in how they handle children like Marcus. Marcus’ class is composed of less than 15 students. In Grade Six they are taught World History (instead of repeating Philippine history every year), Spanish or Mandarin, computer programming and advanced lessons in major subjects. They offer clubs without additional fee so now Marcus plays soccer and basketball on top of his PE. They believe in Marcus and they never branded him.

2. To the parents. You may have succeeded your way of protecting your child from one bully (which is what they think of Marcus), without thinking about my child’s future. Let me just remind you that there will always be a bully around your child, even after school. Protecting him/her that way will make your child weak and dependent. My child is not a monster. ‘Bullies’ need help not judgement from people like you. Besides, we’re doing something about Marcus’ condition. He doesn’t want to be like that.

3. To CSA, what about your anti-bully campaign? Is it to kick those bullies out instead of helping them? Or are you just scared of letting the ‘more powerful parents’ down. Letting them ‘bully’ you.

I don’t say Marcus has changed a lot already. It will be a process. But I can see that AIS family loves him. I pray that it will finally be Marcus’ second home.

Accepting their uniqueness

When my eldest son, Marcus, started schooling, I did not ask for him to be an honor student because I just wanted him to enjoy the whole learning experience. I know he belongs to the above average group (even superior), based on his teachers’ assessment, test results and my own observation, but again I don’t want to put pressure on him. But then I realized that even if you don’t expect your kids to excel, its quite frustrating to see them ‘as if’ waste their talent and refuse to take advantage of it. Marcus gets high grades only on subjects he likes and very low on those he thinks ‘unimportant.’ Worse, he has no motivation at all to study.

Zach, on the other hand, is a born achiever. Like Marcus, I never pushed him to be the cream of the crop but he chose to be one. Best about it, he seems not to exert effort at all. Being an honor student for him is ‘as if’ a normal thing. He nags me to do homework and he loves to read. Funny because at times he won’t believe what I ask him to do unless he reads it from the diary himself.

Modesty aside, I have intelligent kids. Even Lia, I can see potential in her. She’s interested with numbers and letters already. She can pick up words and ideas easily. It’s my kids’ attitude, interests and motivation that differ. Sometimes I think maybe not being there all the time for Marcus during his growing up years (because I was still working then) could have been a factor, but I cannot really blame myself because we needed additional source of income at that time. Well, at least I gave up work before its too late. My only dream for my kids is that they become the best that they can be and I’ll do my best to ensure that.

To Kumon Or Not To Kumon

Kumon is effective if you enrol your child for the right reasons. I used to think that Kumon is teaching Math the wrong way because its worksheets, as if, require the child to memorize the answer instead of doing the right calculation. But when someone told me that Kumon has helped her child, I gave it a second thought. So as soon as summer vacation started last year, I went to a Kumon center to enrol my boys. Unfortunately, I have to wait for an orientation before I can enrol them. Besides, they told me that Kumon is not a short term activity and would at least need a year for you to realize its benefits.

Before 2010 ended, I reconsidered enrolling my boys to Kumon for a different reason this time. Both of them are glued on tv or computer games that they need to have something worth while to do everyday. I chose math not because they need help on that subject, (actually both of them are good at it thanks to their parent’s genes hehe) but because I want them to be confident with it and hopefully do advanced Math in no time. It would definitely help them minimize time doing calculations during exam and have more time analyzing. Also, when time comes that they have to take entrance exams, math would be a piece of cake.

So for those who are still wondering if they should enrol their child or not, here are some things one should consider:

1. Kumon is not a quick fix, if your child badly needs help and is failing already, he needs a tutor not Kumon.

2. It is not a short term activity. You cannot just enrol your child for a few months (like summer vacation) and expect to see improvement.

3. It is a commitment to both child and parent. Kumon requires the child to attend twice a week sessions and answer worksheets everyday for them to master the subject matter in terms of speed and accuracy. (It makes sense because Math is perfect Science and that practice makes perfect). So if you don’t have time to ensure that kids attend their sessions and do their daily worksheet, it defeats the purpose.

4. Once enrolled, your child usually starts two or more levels below his actual school level and as a parent you should not be alarmed. Like for instance he’s already doing fractions in school, he may start with addition first because in terms of speed and accuracy he has not mastered it yet. (Level is identified through a diagnostic test).

5. It is not a substitute to regular school.

Lastly, I suggest you attend the orientation so that all your questions will be answered. But for the mean time, I hope this article somehow helped you realize if you have the right reason/s to enrol your child.

What scares me

Today as I was putting Lia to sleep, I was thinking, ‘Am I where I should be right now?’ Honestly, I felt unproductive having to spend so much time and effort dancing my baby to sleep. I love what I was doing but I thought maybe I should instead be doing some online work at that very moment or even be dressed in a corporate attire doing office work.

And then my mother’s words came to me like an answer to all the questions that’s been bothering me. She said, ‘There’s a big difference with you running the house instead of housemaids doing it.’

Since I was a child, I’ve convinced myself not to be a full-time housewife. Not because I thought of it as a menial job, but because I was afraid that I couldn’t match, more so surpass, the sacrifice that my mother did to bring up her 4 children.

Yet now I see myself doing exactly what she was doing decades ago. And it scares me.

It scares me because what if with all the effort that I am exerting just to meet my children’s different needs, I would still end up a failure in bringing out the best in them.

And even if they all grew up the persons they are destined to be, I’m scared to find myself searching for an identity because my children are all grown up and doesn’t need me the way they do now.

Above all, it scares me because for the first time I am not in control of my future.

Wake-up!

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote a blog, an unpaid blog that is, and I guess I should start creating one now before its too late. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say. Actually, its either because I’m too busy with work and daily errands or ideas are all mixed up that I cannot come-up with a good topic. But then I realized, why need to wait for a good topic if this is not a report anyway. I’ve been wanting my blog site to be active but as I’ve said, I’ve been so conscious about what to write. So to rev things up, I have to come-up with daily blogs. (Pressure!)

To start, I just want to share some of my thoughts every morning as I bring my kids to school. Actually, it’s not much of a thought but just an observation because my brain is still half awake having to rise 6 in the morning. Inside the elevator or outside the parking lot I would see employees, most of them in a hurry, on their corporate attire with laptop bags hanging on their shoulders. Women are wearing their make-up trying to conceal the tired look on their faces. I used to be like that and used to think that life should be like that.

On the other hand, there I was still with bed lines on my face, wearing shirt and shorts, carrying (or pulling) school bag in one hand and holding my son’s hand on the other, also in a hurry to make sure kids won’t be late. People look at me and I wonder what they’re thinking. Sometimes it’s a humbling experience. Sometimes it makes me proud. Nobody knows I gave up my career to spend more time with my children. It is a privilege, not a sacrifice.

I have to admit I miss wearing slacks, blazer and boots. I miss putting on a light make-up and perfume to make sure that I’m at my best having to deal with different people everyday. I miss having friends at the office and looking forward to coffee breaks. I miss going home knowing that I was able to accomplish a lot of work in a day. But surprisingly, I don’t want to go back to the corporate world. It’s definitely a different world now.