June 18, 2013

On Giving Them What They "Need"

My firstborn, you're thirteen. Challenges are surely coming our way.

“So, do you really need it to be an expensive shoe?!”

And I was met with hot tears.

He didn’t have to answer my question. Of course I can buy him affordable rubber shoes. But what kind of “need” are we talking about here? I know It’s not about the physical features of the shoe. His need for the ridiculously expensive shoe is on a social, hormonal, materialistic level kind of need.

And I completely understand that. He’s a teenager.

I quickly checked my icy self and softened. I hugged him. I wanted him to know that I understand him. Flashback of me crying for hours and hours in our tiny, tiny car because I wanted my father to buy me the latest, the rubber shoes of all rubber shoes: Nike Air Jordan 9. My father kept saying we couldn’t afford it. And I cried endlessly and deliberately. In our car, in our house, practically everywhere he can possibly see me. He struck a deal with me and got me Tretorn instead. Tretorns were the “in” thing back then, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of shoes you would want to be sporting in the middle of a basketball game. I was a varsity player. We were competing in the Women’s Basketball League! I have to have a pair of kick-ass rubber shoes. I cried and cried while wearing my Tretorn until one day, I got my Nike Air Jordan 9. Then 10. Then 11. Then 12. Then 13.

I had shoes that all the boys in my school wanted. Did I become a better player? Maybe. But without a doubt it made my basketball life more fun.

Now I am in my father’s, err, shoes. Karma at its finest. I didn’t know that it’s this hard and utterly heartbreaking when you fail to give what your children ask for. Had I known that it was this painful, I would’ve punched my 13-year-old self in the face. They say you can only understand your parents when you become one yourself. And oh boy is that saying true. 

Alas, parenting has no template. In fact, parents with many children can tell you that parenting one kid to another has to be different to suit each child's intelligence, behavior, temperament, and character. This weekend my husband and I will have to talk to our teen regarding materialism and its effect on people. Hopefully we can shed some light to his "unexplainable needs".

I got him two pairs of affordable shoes for everyday use. Will buy him relatively affordable PE shoes come this weekend.
Will buy him his dream shoes when he has done what he needs to do according to a chart I will make for him.

In my son's school they don't believe in the "reward system" most especially if the reward is very materialistic. But truth be told, this has been proven to be a good system for my son. I have given my son several expensive shoes but all of them didn’t last long. Either he misuses them or his feet would magically grow longer overnight. This time, I really have no money for his dream Adidas shoes, and even if I will close my eyes and spend that much, there’s an ugly feeling that it’s not worth it. To make it worthy I will create a reward chart for him to achieve his dream shoes. He will have to work really hard for his dream shoes.  

Because despite the fact that I am not a materialistic kind of person, I am not disregarding that kind of need. I believe for some people it is supplemental to their overall growth.


A Perfect Weekend

The barren land that we are on is only visible in the middle of the year.
The rest of the year, it is under the lake.

We were blessed enough to have another shot of a great summer weekend when an old friend of ours decided to celebrate his birthday in Pantabangan Lake in Nueva Ecija, which is a good 3.5 hours away from Metro Manila. He and his lovely wife invited our little family for the weekend, and despite our superheavymega-grabesobrangdami workload, we decided to go for it since school was about to start for my teen.

And we are so glad we made an effort to go. It is surely one of the best weekends we ever had.

Our two planned summer vacations (Subic and Bali) were a bit hard for us because, as luck would have it, on both trips my boys were really sick. I thank the Universe for giving us another chance to enjoy ourselves under the summer sun with great friends, great food, and a mind-blowing view.
My husband, who is always within the confines of The Big and Nasty Corporate World, melted on the hammock and couldn’t get enough of the view of the seemingly placid lake. I was so happy to see him relax and truly enjoy. He stared at the wild animals which were all grazing within his view, amazed by the dogs that were instinctively herding wild beasts (horses, goats, and cows). I have never seen him so relaxed and happy! My husband is quite the Negatron and quite the ever-paranoid, ever-stressed kind of guy. To see him chilling under the trees brought joy in my heart. He truly deserved that. 

Sitting on top of what is left of an old church, part of a submerged town. Visible only when the water level is low.

My teen soaked up the fresh air and the grand view and decided almost instantly that he loves the place and even declared that he wants to spend his birthday there (too bad this is not possible, his birthday is on New Years Eve). At first I was afraid that my teen would sulk all weekend since adults and three little girls surrounded him. I was wrong. Completely forgot he’s a nature-boy despite his head being full of World of Warcraft, DotA, and MineCraft. Also, his “Kuya-ness” kicked in, he truly enjoyed playing and chatting with our friends’ super cute, super loveable, super adorable daughters.

My baby also had a grand time! He enjoyed exploring a new terrain. It was his first time to truly walk on grass and dirt. At first I thought my control-freak husband would get mad at us for letting the baby sit on the dirt but he was all smiles! He even chuckled when our son did a Jack tumble on a small slope! Our toddler went crazy with the pine cones, he picked (and threw) every cone he saw despite its thorny nature. 

We enjoyed the food which were all lovingly prepared by the birthday boy and his family. We had an array of food - from fresh green salad with Japanese sesame dressing to roasted suckling pig to lobsters from the nearby sea to Tom Yum Gai (Thai hot and sour soup) which were all lip-smackingly good. We even had goat in the form of caldereta (tomato-based stew) and dinuguan (blood stew)! 

After a relaxing full body massage, I had the chance to sit down with our friend and we capped the night with great conversation. Before sleeping, my husband and I talked and reflected for a bit and we agreed that it was only just then we realized how much we missed our friend.
We planted a tree before we left. See you soon, our dear tree!
It is probably general knowledge that when you are a mother, your happiness greatly depends on the happiness of your husband and children (although I am all for the school of thought that we are our own captains of ourselves, therefore SHOULD BE in complete control of our own happiness yadda yadda, but as far as motherhood goes, I guess you get what I am trying to say).  Suffice to say my boys were all really happy = I was really happy. Their happiness mean so much to me and I am really glad that I chose this trip over working non-stop for the weekend. I knew my Monday would be hell (why hello there big-pile-of-work-that-was-neglected-over-the-weekend!) but it was worth it.

I am happy that my husband and I made time for our friend and his family. Weekends like these don’t come everyday (err, every weekend). Don’t be a slave of your “busy schedule”, children grow up too fast, and yet work will always have the same intensity and rhythm. Learn when to say “no” to work and when to say “yes” to an opportunity such as this. I believe they’re gifts from the Universe. Accept graciously, sit back, enjoy.


Thank you to our friend who invited us. Please extend our thanks to your wonderful family. We really had a perfect weekend and we owe it all to you.

Click 'read more' for more pictures!