Flashback: My Life as a Child

October 19, 2014

While I was reading the article entitled "12 ways to be the meanest mom in the world," I couldn't help but remember my papa and how different my childhood has been.  You may find it ironic that it was my father who crossed my mind while I was reading an article that was actually written to address mothers.  To make you somehow understand, let me share with you a story of my youth.

I have a very kind and loving mother, the typical one.  She's someone who has always been willing to do anything and everything that can make her children happy.  She's our teacher, confidant, adviser, and best friend.  Most of all, she was the one who taught us how to pray and persevere in faith.  She has definitely brought light into our home, making it a happy and better place to live in.

On the contrary, my father was strict and authoritative. He was very strict, it felt like our house was under martial law.  Back then, I really found it hard to understand his parenting style because none of my classmates' parents were like him.

We grew up having a television set that was padlocked inside a custom-made TV cabinet.  Before we could watch any TV show, we had to make sure that the house was clean, our school assignments were done, and we had already finished our meal; be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  You know, we lived by the old saying "hindi pinaghihintay ang grasya."  In addition, each of us could only choose one TV program (max 1hr duration) to watch for the entire day. I thought he was being too rigid.  What I didn't know is, he was teaching us "discipline."

When we were kids, we used to have a nanny but during school age, he decided not have any house maid anymore.  Instead, he taught us how to do household chores.  We had our own schedule in washing the dishes (my ate for breakfast, me for lunch, and hijo for dinner), wash our own clothes (thanks God for the washing machine), and iron our school uniforms.  I thought he was being hard on us, I felt like a slave.  What I didn't know is, he was teaching us "responsibility."

Whenever we wanted something so badly, we needed to save money from our baon in order to afford it.  He never spoiled us with gifts nor gave us a luxurious life.  We were trained to work as binders in our small printing press for a fee.  So at a very young age, we learned that we needed to work hard in order to earn money.  Later on, that "work-for-a-fee" became "work-for-free."  I thought he was just being thrifty.  What I didn't know is, he was teaching us the value of money and the virtue of helping without expecting anything in return.

One summer break, when sports camp was being offered in school, we asked his permission to allow us join a swimming class.  As kids, we were excited to enjoy summer by playing in the pool and learning how to swim at the same time.  He did allow us to join the sports camp but instead of enrolling us in swimming classes, he enrolled us in the taekwondo team.  So, we ended up spending our summer days kicking, not in the water but in sparring.  I thought he was just being  killjoy.  What I didn't know is, he wanted us to learn self defense so he can have some peace of mind knowing that we can defend ourselves when the need arises.

Similar to martial law, we lived in a world of curfew.  As kids, we were allowed to play outside the house but we had to be home by six.  As teenagers (high school and college years), my father had a copy of our class schedule and we were given just enough travel time to get home from the time of our class dismissal.  We were neither allowed to attend parties nor have out-of-town trips with friends.  During field trips, he would always complain and would never sign a liability waiver (the piece of paper which states that the school will not be held answerable for any harm/injury that we may incur for participating in such activities).  I thought, maybe, he didn't have enough trust in us.  What I didn't know is, he was just concerned of our safety.

All those things made me believe that he was such a big KJ.  I remember, he would always defend himself by saying that he LOVES us, that's why.  I got more confused.  I was thinking, how can love be the reason why we almost had no freedom at all?  So I asked him, "Can you not just love us instead?"  I was selfish and immature to have asked my father such stupid question.  But he calmly replied, "Anak, hayaan nyo na akong mahalin kayo habang bata pa kayo.  Maikling panahon lang ang hinihingi ko.  Kapag naka-graduate na kayo, ibibigay ko na sa inyo yung kalayaang hinihingi mo."  And all I had told myself was, "That's such a long time!"  But I have no choice.  I had to obey his rules.

Years passed by and I've finally got the freedom I've always been asking from him. I graduated, worked, got married, and had a child.  Being an adult, I was able to appreciate that he has prepared us well in life by teaching us independence, discipline, and responsibility.  Being a mother, I was able to understand his love.

In all honesty, I'm starting to feel scared for Rafael as early as now.  Life is never easy and the world is unfair.  I wish I could protect him from harm, pain, and difficulties that are awaiting him but I can't. All I can do is to guide him along the way and gear him up for the future hoping that it would be enough to help him become the better man.  So help me God!

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