Every parent I meet, whether they have a boy or a girl, are one in saying that my son is very active for his age. I am always happy to hear this. Even when he was a baby, my husband and I are in agreement that we would be happy to have an active son. We have always encouraged him to move… and move… and move. And talk… and talk… and talk. At 27 months, my Little Dynamo could and tries each time to speak in complete sentences. Manifestations of an analytical mind include words like “I think…”, “because”, “maybe”, “this is better”. When I first heard any of those words from him, I was really surprised. Pleasantly surprised. He must have started uttering words at 15 months. My husband and I were actually worried when at 1 year old, he was not able to clearly say Daddy and Mommy yet. But he did start to speak… at his own pace.
These days, he could sing on his own the alphabet and several nursery rhymes. He invents his own spiderman movements. He jumps on the bed… almost nonstop. It is tiring, yes. But it is only tiring for me and my husband. But this is just a phase he goes through. Why would we want to stop him from exploring his world through actions?
While going home to the Philippines for vacation is a welcome relief and a good chance for our son to feel family around him, it has been quite stressful for me since his first vacation. At 10 months old, he was always on the go. For people used to telling toddlers to behave (read: don’t move too much lest you will be labeled as sobrang makulit), I guess my son was too much for them. I know, for every family, there are norms to follow in rearing children and for this I am thankful for the independence to rear my son the way I think he should be reared, and not according to the “conventional” rearing that we would have been surrounded with if we were in the Philippines.
Living far from family and the comfort of househelpers and nannies in the Philippines is not easy. But I have adjusted to it… and proud of it. An online friend gave me this comforting words when she wrote in one of my posts:
“In my case, I could afford to be as open-minded about the rearing of the kids kasi malayo kami sa mga taga-payo who mean well but can be oppressive and critical at the same time. When I look back at the balance sheet of having stayed abroad all these years, the freedom to be the mom I wanted to be holds first place in the list of advantages.”
I still got irritated with comments during our last vacation but with my husband beside me I learned to control it. Who wouldn’t be? Even yayas had something to say… one told her ward “ikaw ha, nagiging wild ka na rin” with obvious comparison to my son. No wonder, my Little Dynamo was very stable on his feet and running at 12 months.
I have a very soft spot for one of my husband’s niece. She’s a very pretty girl who used to be very active and playful as a toddler… others apparently saw it as being more active than toddler girls should be. She was called wild. Now, she’s a very pretty girl whose confidence needs a little boosting. I was also witnessed to a young boy who loved to sing during special occasions. He would almost always have the microphone and sing to his heart’s content. He was labeled as autistic.
I think it is pretty harsh to label kids, especially during their formative years. Nobody should stop them from learning the world around them and testing their capabilities through playing and playing… and playing. That is how they learn, after all.
We’re back here in our own little kingdom and I take comfort in letting my son explore his world the way he wants to while I am always on guard against possible dangers… sans irritating comments. In my stay far from the comforts of familiarity, I have learned to rely on my readings, no matter how contradictory they seem to be from the norms back at home, and from the experiences of moms whose culture is different from where I grew up in. Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” has this to say:
“But letting kids explore — at the cost of a few scrapes and cuts — builds character, self-confidence, resilience, and self-reliance”.
Any moment from now, my son’s going to wake up. Even in this winter chill, his first words after his nap are always “It’s not night time. Let’s go out, Mommy.”