Category Archives: Parenting

Week 15: Dance like no one’s watching

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My eternal dream is to be graceful. How I would love it if I could just go to the dance floor and shake it with pure abandon – and look fantastic doing it. However, in the present scope of things, I can’t dance to save my life. Well, I can, but it would be painful to watch.

Good thing, then, that two nights ago, there was no one watching except two little sweetpeas, and they didn’t care. All they cared about was that we were dancing.

It was a slow night in the Beehive – where The Hooligan, The T-Rex, The Hub, and I live. Dinner was over, the chaos was settling down for the night. We were getting ready to do the daily battle, also known as taking a bath, when Word World came up on the Playhouse Disney channel.

In Word World, there are only animals; and what these animals do is they speak English and “build words.” A great way to teach budding little intellects like The Hooligan and The T-Rex how to spell. Now the animals in Word World (there’s a sheep, frog, pig, ant, duck, shark, and dog), apart from talking. also like to play instruments. In one teaser, they put together a band and play a rather cool tune – for animals.

It’s been a thing of ours to jump up and around when this tune pipes up. (Yes, it’s very exciting.) So there we were, bouncing to Dog’s beat on the drums, and I decide to put on CDs so we could bounce some more. The Disney compilation was already on the player so we danced to that. I found it a bit odd to dance to the three little pigs and Jiminy Cricket but the kids were squealing with pure joy so I swallowed it and boogied. Next up was the Eraserheads, but that didn’t go well with The Hooligan – she said it wasn’t ballet music. Probably right. To shift the collective mood towards bedtime, I turned to blues and put on Eric Clapton’s Reptile (the best album in the world, in my humble opinion, next to U2’s Joshua Tree).

It was interesting to see we had different dancing styles. The T-Rex (who, now, is also known by his other nickname, The Spitting One) generally stomps around while flexing his arms and sticks out is diapered bottom, and sometimes steps on my foot. The Hooligan, who dropped out of ballet class after a month of lessons, likes to ballet-ize all her dances. She prances, leaps, does pirouettes, and a whole lot of improv stuff. She’s very creative when she dances. I go by the seat of my pants and just try to survive my kids’ movements while secretly dying inside of self-humiliation.

But The Hooligan and The T-Rex had no expectations and so I was able to dance with them with pure abandon. And that made my day.

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Week 14: Rescue a Cat

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So there we were, The T-Rex and I, walking home after bringing The Hooligan to school. The T-Rex was ambling and I was trying to stop him from putting pebbles in his mouth when we both saw the tiny white kitten quivering toward the road and certain death. The T-Rex immediately let out  a slew of warnings to the cat, “Dadn dadn dadn dadn!” (That meant, “Don’t go there, kitty!” It sometimes also means, “Helicopter in the sky!” And, “Dog!” Very rarely, it means what The Hub thought it meant when we heard it for the first time, “Daddy!”)

Despite the repeated warnings, the kitten blindly creeped forward, meowing with every step. And sure enough, a huge black SUV came up the road. The kitty was on its way to becoming road kill. As if in a movie, The T-Rex and I jumped forward, screaming to the driver to, “Stop!” He stopped inches from the oblivious kitten; must have thought he’d come across a crazy mother and her demented kid. I scooped up the kitten – I could cup it completely in one hand – and delivered it to safety on the side of the road. Thinking the mother would be back for it, I pulled The T-Rex along which prompted him to resist: “Dadn! Dadn! Dadn!” As if on cue, the kitty came out of the bushes and headed back to the middle of the road. Little stupid cat.

So we brought it home.

It looked like it was just two weeks old. I had to – grudgingly – go to the supermarket and buy it a baby feeding bottle and some milk. It was then that I realized that taking care of an almost newborn cat takes a lot of commitment and patience – sort of like taking care of children, except it’s not advisable to keep children in a cage. This cat cried when it was hungry, when it couldn’t sleep, when it was cold, when it was bored. It seemed it cried all the time and I knew it was looking for its mother. But we couldn’t find the mother – we looked. In desperation, I even emailed PAWS and PAWS’ Ana Cabrera called me back – really passionate service! – to tell me they couldn’t take the kitten in because they already had 250 cats in their shelter. Instead she told me how to take care of the kitten.

In spite of my best efforts – assisted by The T-Rex, who liked to pull the kitten’s ears, and The Hooligan, who insisted on feeding the kitten but lost interest the moment cat drool landed on her hand – the kitten died after two weeks. It breaks my heart because I imagine it died wishing for its mother. I hugged The Hooligan and The T-Rex closer.

It’s a good thing the kids aren’t new to dead pets. The Hooligan’s first pets were a gift to her – a couple of tonkinese cats who bore three kittens. They died within two weeks of each other after catching a feline-only virus. We now have a tombstone in our garden marking the resting place of Tinkerbell, Dragon Kite, Mr. Krab, and Hiccup. (The Hooligan obviously named them.) Later on, two other cats – Blinky and Stripey – keeled over, but this time, the kids didn’t even notice. The remaining cat in our house is Mr. Bobinsky, a tough pusakal (pusang kalye) who strayed in and never left.

It’s nice, in a way, living in a house with animals. It reminds me that our earth is not just for humans, and that teaches me to be more compassionate. It has also taught me that cat food, when ingested in little doses, is not harmful to little children, according to our pediatrician.

Week 5: Bake Something with The Hooligan

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About a year and a half ago, we bought a new oven. And for a year and a half until two days ago, the oven sat in our kitchen with nothing to do but hold dish towels. So last week, I thought I better use the oven for something other than storage before it keels over and dies. Why not bake with The Hooligan, then?

We were supposed to bake Sunday. But then The Hooligan couldn’t decide whether she wanted to bake cookies (she doesn’t particularly like them but does like the idea of dunking them in milk, which I support all the way) or a cake. When she finally decided on a cake, she added that she wanted a rainbow cake with green icing on the side. Now, my baking ability only goes up to simple-minded recipes, nothing rainbow. Forget about making icing. So we ended Sunday with me issuing a migraine-induced ultimatum: bake something brown in color (because aren’t all baked things brown?) or not bake at all. The Hooligan chose not at all.

Monday, the migraine was gone but so was The Hooligan’s attention span. She saw me putting fertilizer at the base of one of our trees. So then she proceeded to fortify the rest of our plants – and the cement path – with generous doses of fertilizer for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, we baked. I didn’t give The Hooligan a choice of what to bake, otherwise we’d bake in 2012. Plucked a recipe by Roshan Samtani for Yummy magazine – Oatmeal cookies with dried mangoes and cashew nuts (I deleted the nuts. Picky eaters, we are). Chose cookies because I was after the health aspect – I was counting on The Hooligan dunking our creations in lots of milk.

Putting the ingredients together was easy enough. We got flour on most of the furniture and in the T-Rex’s hair but everything else worked. The Hooligan was a worthy assistant. She put herself in charge of measuring all the ingredients (sort of) while wearing the flour sifter on her head as a hat.

I made the mistake, though, of placing the cookie sheet on the second lowest slot (is that what you call it?) of the oven, thus turning the bottoms of the cookies black. The second batch turned out better – all I could hope for at that point was to not burn the damn things.

All our effort was to no avail, however. The Hooligan decided to dunk her cookies in water instead of milk, which, obviously, didn’t work. So she ate half a dripping cookie, no milk; and I ate 10 cookies (spread out over an hour)