Post-It Notes To My School Boy: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

I'm not proud of myself today. It's one of those days when you feel like you've done a horrible job at parenting -- yes, those days when you start to question your capacity at mentoring, guiding and nurturing little souls. You ask yourself why parenting didn't come with a lifetime supply of patience -- like, maybe a well that never runs dry -- one that you can run to when you're about to run on empty.

I was preparing Io in advance this morning for his Mathematics seat work and was discussing how to derive equivalent fractions through graphical representation and numerical manipulation. It sounds complex when I say it, but it's really easy --I don't even know why it's still in a Grade 4 curriculum -- I've taught him this in 2nd Grade and was confident that he'll breeze through it, like he usually does.

Alas, I was about to be disappointed -- and terribly frustrated. After giving him a thorough explanation complete with my usual over-the-top gestures and verbal emphasis, he went out carrying his book and illustration board, telling me he'd do it outside so he could also get some air. Thirty minutes later, illustration board remains empty, save for some lines I made out as possible doodles.

I was naturally upset. And everyone close to me know that I'm about as incendiary as dry leaves in the hot summer sun. All it takes is a little magnifying glass to turn me ablaze. And nothing upsets me more than deliberate disobedience coupled with blatant evasion. Simply put: if I teach you something I know you're completely capable of understanding but you choose to listen passively for whatever reason and eventually forget it and decide not to do it (disobey) to mask ineptitude, I'd be very upset. I'm the sort of person who would be willing to run through a topic ad infinitum until the other person gets it. But once you tell me you've got it -- you better, or else...

"Are you telling me you wasted half an hour of precious day time doodling instead of answering pages 208-209 of your Mathematics book? And didn't I tell you to grab your scratch papers and write your answers there? Why in heaven's name are you using that cardboard instead? You have red colored chalk all over! You've been obviously erasing that red chalk using your forearms! Who taught you to do that? Why do you think erasers were invented? And why do you think we have 2 of them at home? Are you tired of school? Bored with it? Or worse, 'burdened' by it? Maybe you shouldn't go to school today. Or maybe, you should stop going to school altogether because it's such a drag! Maybe walking around barefoot, begging for alms or salvaging trash for pennies sounds more exciting! Maybe you've had it too easy all this time that you can't appreciate what a glorious blessing and opportunity schooling is!"

Obviously, I wasn't asking real questions, just rhetoric. Every word was uttered to appeal to his guilt in hopes that they'll eventually knock some sense into him -- an 8 year old boy -- to magically come to a realization even some adults barely experience in a lifetime.

I was asking too much from someone very little. I was putting words in his mouth, judging him by his apparent nonchalance as he scribbles on his illustration board. I forgot that I'm talking to a little soul. Smart and capable as he is of understanding words and reading between the lines, even of sarcasm -- that ain't no way to treat a little boy -- a boy whose heart's sole desire is to please his parents -- but whose 'little boy' problems are getting in the way of fulfilling that desire.

I'd like to tell you that I immediately apologized to him for saying hurtful things but I didn't get the chance. We were too pressed for time since he needs to leave for school in 30 minutes.

Now, all I have is this Post-It note to tell him that I too needed some kind of realization. We were never meant to be perfect. Young and old, parents and children alike make mistakes not because we choose to but because we are bound to make them. And that what's important is not to be distracted by the mundane and mistake perfect scores for learning or perfect behavior for character. And that, unlike Bruce Wayne, we are defined by who we really are inside, not by what we do for the moment -- that our feelings, words -- even our decisions are but fleeting glimpses of our being but in no way does it represent our whole self. We will always be influenced by people and circumstances in how we act, think or speak at a certain time.

And it's okay because that's what makes us human, it's what gives us the opportunity to look at things in hindsight and learn from our missteps. And that as long as we never lose sight of our goals and righteous desires of our hearts, God's love and forgiveness will be a bright beacon that will always lead us home.

Tomorrow gives us another chance to say sorry but why put off for tomorrow what you can do today -- or an hour earlier. It may well be the hardest word, but it's definitely not impossible.

Is there a person you know in your heart you need to say sorry to? Say sorry today -- and mean it -- for once, for always. One of these days, you just might find yourself on the receiving end.

Hugs and warm wishes everyone!

Living with Gamers

Summer is officially here. And while I love it for the certainty of sun-dried clothes, fruit drinks and incessant summer outings, there is one thing that won’t grow on me no matter how long I’ve been immersed in it – that G word. GAMING.

I suppose it’s not hard to tell that I’m not a fan, much less a “gamer”. You can’t really blame me. I’ve tried. Many times. And after many years, I still try to “get with the program”. But it just isn’t as appealing to me as reading or blogging – or tinkering with my iPhone settings.

This shouldn’t be an issue if only I don’t live with 2 boys who might as well been born with gaming devices on hand. It used to be that I only had to accept that a PlayStation is a must-have electronic device. Now, there are just so many avenues for gaming that shunning it completely is near impossible. You have consoles, desktops, tablets, phones, phablets, TVs etc. What’s a non-gamer to do?

I remember a few years ago when we bought our first family desktop, I was all excited about all the possible things that it can do to enhance our home life – my home life. I intend to use it as our radio, newspaper, calendar, encyclopedia, recipe book and entertainment center. So naturally, I was looking for specs that will fit those requirements. And since my intended use aren’t very graphic/video intensive, it seemed like an easy choice.

But no. Gamer #1 naturally wanted to go looking for top desktops for online gaming – not an easy feat, especially if you’re on a tight budget. We ended up shelling out a relatively large sum for a piece of electronic hardware set. If you’re a gamer yourself, I’m sure you would relate to the need of a faster CPU for graphics-intensive games. Then you need more memory, larger HDD storage, larger screen – the works. But wait, there’s more! If you’re heavily invested in a next-best-thing gaming experience, why not add all imaginable peripherals too? Game controllers? Yes, please! Joysticks, game pads, steering wheels, flight controllers – you name it.

And don’t start me with the actual gaming schedules. The only time gamers aren’t “gaming” are possibly when they’re at work (?), in school (?) or maybe driving and eating. Every other spare time (even waiting in line) is spent playing some sort of “pass the time” game.

Conversations with gamers? Ugh, don’t even count on it. They can’t take away their eyes on the screen and the only response you’ll get run the gamut of nods, ‘ahs’, ‘ohs’ and grins. It’s confusing because each time they smile or frown (and get frustrated) for that matter, you can’t tell whether it’s because of you or their game. How annoying is it that  you’d have to repeat every thing you say because they “didn’t catch it” the first time. Conversations with gamers? Don’t even try (or at least not when there absorbed in their own world).

Gamer #2 – cute as he may, has also caused me a lot of headaches too. I’m starting to think this “gaming complex” is hereditary. Must be the genes then. It’s challenging enough for someone who goes to regular school to keep the gaming distractions at bay but it’s definitely a lot harder for a homeschooling kid who knows that these devices are just an arm’s reach. 

Thankfully though, I have learned to manage. I have come to understand that gaming in itself isn’t evil. Like most things in life, it’s the  fear of the unknown and the misunderstood that stops us from appreciating its benefits while being wary of the adverse effects of unbridled gaming. The key is in striking a healthy balance between fun and responsibility. Living with gamers, while challenging shouldn’t be an unwinnable level but a wonderful adventure that keeps on leveling-up.. and remember, if all else fails, you can always push that restart button and try again. :)

Smithsonian Earth Science - Glow In The Dark Giant Volcano + Homeschool Thoughts

Emilio is definitely having fun with all the Smithsonian Science Kits he got -- most recently, this

Smithsonian Earth Science - Glow In The Dark Giant Volcano.

See video below. And oh, I've also embedded 2 other videos -- Prehistoric Sea Monsters (Triops) and  Diggin' Up Dinos - also from Smithsonian. I've always been on the look-out for Science kits but haven't gotten around buying them so we're very thankful for Ninang Jasmin and Tito Jeff's generosity. 

Judging from the way he loved every minute of this kit experience, it looks like we'd have to find a way to find similar ones locally. 

I'm not a very hands-on person when it comes to Science. I prefer texts and thought experiments but clearly, my little boy's learning style is a lot different than mine so I have to make adjustments. Wise as he is, he cannot build this entirely without adult supervision so I have to indulge him from time to time. 

It's a welcome respite for my eyes that thankfully (or hopefully) still register a 20/20 grade despite the abuses they go through everyday. Working with my hands makes me feel relaxed and it inspires my son to create stuff instead of just digesting information.

In barely two months, school year 2012-2013 would officially be over and it'd be time yet again to evaluate our educational options. My heart is for homeschooling, it's always been for homeschooling. But since his father is not entirely on-board with it, it remains a struggle. My ardent prayer is for God to make His plans known to us (at least, this part about educating our only child). This first year of homeschooling has been tough yet sweetly rewarding. I would love to do it all over again and for many years to come. But not my will, Lord but Yours be done. 

In the meantime, I will enjoy these precious moments I get to spend with my son... because this moment in time will never happen again and I'm just so happy and thankful to God and Ritchie that I got to experience this. :)


Getting Healthier, Getting Better

Wow. Where do I begin? First off, I'm just too happy to tell you that my little boy has been growing very fast and getting healthier too! *hearty applause*

Just one of the many perks of homeschooling! I say that a lot, don't I?

You see, when he used to go to regular school, he almost always looked pale and tired when he got home. He's so tired and wasted that most times, he doesn't even have the energy to play outdoors even if he wanted to. All he wanted to do was lie down and watch TV because that didn't require as much physical energy -- never mind that it was dumbing him down (he knows this and is careful of the programs he watch).

To make things worse, he hardly eats his packed lunch/snacks. He either comes home with an untouched lunchbox or an empty one (only for us to find out later that he gave it away).

And in school (or where he went anyway, they don't really care whether you eat your food or not -- as if ensuring their students' well-being isn't part of their responsibility). You can whine and complain all you want but things won't change because the less involved they (teachers) are in non-academic activities, the better for them.

How sad it makes me feel when I remember those times.

But now, 7 months into homeschooling and he's gained the weight, energy, enthusiasm and exuberance that every child deserves.

He's finished his 3rd Quarter exams and is about to take his finals early March. A few more months and my 8 year old would be finished with Third Grade. :)

Oh and yes, I almost forgot! This photo was taken yesterday because we noticed his hair has grown fast too! Haha! We told him we'd take him to the barber but he insisted that his Papa cut his hair as their bonding activity. Well, they both looked happy and we saved a few bucks too! :)

This coming school year (2013-2014) though, we might take him back to regular school because it's the minimum bargain I had with his Papa. Of course if I had it my way I will continue to homeschool him for as long as I can. Even until college! The thought of teaching Calculus is both exciting and challenging. But as it is now, it looks like it'll take a whole lot of praying to keep him homeschooled.

I might get my wish. I might not. But in the meantime, I will pray tirelessly and earnestly. After all, God knows what's best for our son so whatever happens I trust that He will always take care of my little boy.