The birds and the bees… and I don’t mean Tweety or Jollibee

Ging and I were watching an episode of Glee (the one where Finn and Quinn tell her parents she’s pregnant) when a new word caught my ever perceptible daughter’s curiosity.

“Mommy, ano yung ‘sex’?”

I sorta like grunted and continued to munch on a corn chip. Crickets chirping.

“Ano nga yun Mommy?” Ging repeated when it became apparent I wasn’t giving her any answer.

“Er, well, it’s something for grown-ups only…” I vaguely answered, and tried to divert her attention by reminding her not to drop crumbs on the bed. It worked, at least for that time.

But I couldn’t help but think about that instance. What if Ging heard that word again and she wasn’t with me or any other sensible adult (Ok I’m not saying I’m always a sensible adult, but I am mostly when she’s around. It’s one of those required motherly stuff)? What if she Googled the word and found out for herself what it really meant?

What’s the best time or age to talk to your kid about the birds and the bees? With all these modern technology and Internet being accessible almost anywhere, it’s so easy for kids to get information, even wrong or distorted ones. Hey, even I get wrong information. (Damn that Daily Mirror website, I should have stuck to People.com).

Let’s face it, kids are acting older at a younger age. Ten years ago I was having sex at eighteen; imagine what they can do today! Add to my paranoia: my sister telling me that some girls are getting their period at the age of 10, 9 or even 8 years old! Eight! That’s my kid! That can’t be. She just stopped breastfeeding like, 7 years ago! Hello! She is not wearing a napkin any time soon!!!

I racked my brains and realized I myself never had a real sex talk with my parents. I guess they were from the school of thought that if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. Or they trusted us to be intelligent well enough to figure it out ourselves. Unfortunately, I must have inherited my mom’s scientist-like gene that believes in experimentation, so voila! Knocked up at 18 with the first guy who came along.

I’m not saying for sure that if my mom or someone older had sat down with me and showed me cartoons of swimming sperms and multiplying egg cells, I would not have had the irrepressible desire to know more about sex at an early age, but I guess it might have helped to stall my raging hormones a bit more. Addison (from Private Practice) got it right when she told Naomi to talk to her 13-year-old daughter about sex, “so she can stay a kid a while longer.”

My Sex Ed 101 is basically gleaned from reading Tiktik and Barako my male friends sneaked into school during our sophomore year, and giggling over porn tapes after COCC training. In senior year at HE class, Mrs. Dayan had us watch a video about the facts of life, which had most of us yelling “Ew!” when the baby’s huge head popped out of the woman’s vajayjay. Then she told us that sex is good, that when it’s the right time, reaching “high heavens” would be so, so worth it. “But not now,” she sternly emphasized, to which I could hear some of my classmates giggling nervously.

(Years later I would find out that while I have the reputation of being the most uhm, liberal, among my batch mates for getting pregnant first, some of my “quiet, innocent” classmates were getting it on years ahead of me. Wow, still waters do run deep, huh?)

Other than that, we mostly got you’ll-be-struck-by-lightning-if-you-so-much-as-think-about-sex lectures from our elder professors. I get that their intentions were good, but I think at that age and time, an honest approach to responsible sex (talk about birth control or STDs for crying out loud) would have been more effective than trusting “Ang Propeta” to teach us about life’s most valuable lessons.

So I guess my question now is, when would be the right time to take Ging to a quiet corner and tell her that having sex before she’s 30 causes unwanted pounds, zits and body odor? Or I should just tell her that her idols, the Jonas brothers, have this thing for chastity jewelry?

Advertisements

Deja vu?

The good thing about being a young mother is getting to relive my childhood and still be able to relate to my kid. Watching “Hannah Montana” or going to Enchanted Kingdom is not as tedious or boring as it would be if I’m, say, in my forties or fifties. We get to swap clothes, read a magazine or do our nails together. She’s not (yet) embarrassed to be seen in public with an old foggy like me.

The downside of this is that I am still young enough to vividly recall the experience of growing up as well, especially the kind that would make parents stay up all night. It starts with making new friends and discovering that there is a whole new exciting world out there that doesn’t include the family.

I remember saying my first “P—mo!” at the tender age of seven because a classmate called me “maarte.” I had not one but two crushes in second grade, and I told another classmate she’s “malandi” because one of my crushes happened to like her instead of me. I told my mom I was staying at my friend’s house to do a group project when all we did was watch VHS tapes and play Barbie dolls. And let’s not get started on all the little white lies in high school, which made me an expert forger of my mom’s signature for all those pesky excuse letters and permits the guidance counselor would require if I missed a class or needed my parents to know I flunked yet another Math quiz.

I wanted to grow up so fast, and I guess having my kid at nineteen is proof that I indeed tried to do it all so early. This is exactly what I told her when she asked me why I had her so young, and I could only try as much as I can to tell her that while I don’t regret having her, being a young mother is so damn hard. I know it’s still kind of early for her to grasp this. In her age, being a mom is like faking care of a doll: change her clothes, give her a pretend bottle and sing her to sleep. When she’s had enough, ayawan na.

As a mother, I want to shield her from all those bad things she would have to endure, yet I don’t want to be overprotective lest I smother her and she would turn away even more. I want her to experience life to the fullest, however tired that may sound. Cliche, yes, but true.

Last night, I accompanied her to school for a show the upper grades were presenting. We got there before it started, but all her classmates were already there, the girls all sitting together. Ging tried to squeeze in but they told her, “Puno na, wala ka ang seat.” And I stood there helplessly watching her face fall and trying in vain to look for another seat. I motioned for her to sit with me but she shook her head no, and decided to settle in the row behind, with the loud, noisy boys she usually tries to avoid. I watched her lean forward to try to catch what the other girls were laughing about, trying to include herself, and I wanted to march over there and scold the other young girls for excluding my daughter! Ten minutes into the show, one of her classmates (who happened to be named Jasmine as well) took the seat beside her and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw their heads close, giggling and whispering. Mental note: get this Jasmine kid a nice birthday gift.

I want to tell her that there will be kids like those other girls, kid who will be cliquish, who will make fun of her because she looked different. There will always be people who will put her down hard if she’s too smart, stomp on her harder if she’s dim or slow, and just plain talk behind her back if she happened to dress or speak or think differently than the general public does. There will be “cool kids” who will dictate the rules, whether in the playground or in the social scene, and she will spend most of her time trying to impress them or to look like them, because if she tells them she doesn’t care, that she is content with being “herself,” she will be labeled a freak, a rebel, an outcast who’s not and never will be “in” with the popular crowd.

I know because I was one of “them.” In elementary, we made fun of the “bobo” students, the ones whose snot bubbled when they sneeze, who brought a baon to school when the “cool” thing was to buy at the canteen, who drank from old water bottles instead of Coleman jugs, the ones who got left behind to repeat a grade or don’t make it to the honor list.

In high school, the geeks at the library got flak for not participating during Intrams; the “goody-two-shoes” got taunted because thy won’t cut class to smoke or drink or play pool with us, or share their exam answers; and the “weirdos” stayed on their seats while we all paired up during slow songs or did wacky group numbers during the Acquaintance Party or Barn Dance. We made fun of the kids who had to put their names in a hat to get a prom date, kids who pooped in their seats or kids who are just deemed, well, different.

And then we all went to college and work and had families, and suddenly those little things that bothered us, that set us apart back then either didn’t matter, or is what actually made us succeed later on.

I know kids are mean, and there’s really nothing I could do to stop that. It’s part of growing up, and I know Ging needs that to be able to build her own identity. The only advice I could give her – however hypocritical it may sound, given my own personality growing up – is to be herself and to never lose sight of who she really is. The memories of my kalokohans during my younger years are coming back to bite me in the ass, and I am becoming so paranoid it’s not even funny!

Of course, I could just find those other girls who snubbed her and give them a piece of my mean girl mind, but then I realize they are just being kids, and I’m no longer a kid myself to indulge in such pettiness.

Hmn, maybe I’ll just look for their parents then, right?

Manong conductors

Now we all know there are scores of maniacal drivers littering our busy highways and streets. For simple commuters like us, they are the captains of our vast transportation system, taking us to and from work, gimmicks, motels, beaches and anywhere else where public transport is present. We thank them for getting us out of traffic jams via detours and shortcuts. We blame them for another motorist sprawled dead on an intersection. We curse them for unloading us a kilometer away from our stop, and yell at them for holding up traffic by picking up passengers on a no-loading zone.

I ride a bus everyday. An ordinary, non-airconditioned clunker plying the Santa Cruz-Alabang route. And for every horn-bleeping, over-speeding bus driver, there is the ubiquitous bus conductor. If movie leads have sidekicks, then these conductors are the perfect foils for these drivers. After all, who would give the passengers tickets while the driver is busy trying to outrun the MMDA patrolman demanding for his license? Who would collect fares while the driver is trying to watch yet another Jean Claude van Damme on the overhead TV while simultaneously snaking along SLEX?

I find the driver-conductor relationship interesting. It’s almost like a little of every kind thrown in: the witty banter of old friends, the familiarity of an old couple, the machismo of two buds. One cannot do without the other. It is also funny how despite being totally co-dependent on each other in the manner of how they operate the entire ride, it is clear that they know their roles well and stick to it. The driver handles the machine, the traffic and the other cars around them, while the conductor takes care of the happenings and the people inside the bus. They don’t overstep on each other.

I remember once there was a drunk inside and was arguing with the conductor about his change. They got into a heated argument, with the former challenging to knock out the other man’s teeth, while the latter barely able to conceal his irritation. When the drunk tried to punch him right then and there and the other passengers (including me) were screaming in fright (“Manong, ibaba nyo na siya!”) , the driver was almost oblivious to what was going on, calmly snacking on a bag of peanuts and listening to Christsuper banter with Nicoliyala on the radio. It wasn’t until the conductor knocked on the door to make him stop and threw the poor drunkard out of the bus that he got an inkling something was amiss. When the ride resumed, the driver threw his partner an innocent glance and asked, “Ano nangyari, pare?”

I’ve met masungit conductors, giving passengers who hand over large bills a hard time. “Wala ba kayong barya?” Duh, if we had, we would’ve given it already, spare me the attitude.

I’ve experienced being hit on by one. After mindless small talk about the bus schedule and the traffic situation in Anos, he suddenly asked for my cell phone number! And when I politely (yes, politely, with huge effort) said I don’t give out my digits to just anyone, he pouted and asked, “Dahil ba hamak na kundoktor lang ako?” Ay, feeling Robin Padilla in a Sharon Cuneta movie. “Wala namang masama, single ako.” Uhm, I think I’ll pass, oh by the way, this is my stop, stooooop the freaking bus!

There are those aspiring DJ’s who play the stereos way too loud, and kept on changing tracks mid-song. Sometimes they would sing along too.

I try to steer clear of the chatty ones, especially when all I want to do is sleep through the entire trip, but he has already taken the empty seat next to me. “Sa call center ka ba, ne? Ano oras pasok mo? May asawa ka na ba? Grabe e di lagi ka puyat. Magkano sweldo mo? Naku e di ang laki ng bonus mo nung Pasko, balato naman.” Friends we are not, manong.

Then there are the bolero-bordering-on-sexual-harassment types, the one who would always greet the passengers, “Uy blooming si Ma’am. Bababa na si Sexy, konting preno, baka umalog ang… bag! Mukhang nanaba si Ms. Ganda ah, buntis ba kayo? Naku estudyante tiniket ko sainyo, kala ko bata pa kayo eh,” all with a ngising-aso smile.

 

Bata, bata, may kraz ka na?!

Umuwi si Ging for lunch today.

“Mommy, nakakatawa si Angelo at Carl Fritz.”

“Bakit?” tanong ko habang sumasandok ng sinigang sa serving bowl.

“Kasi mag-best friend sila pero crush nila pareho, si Alex,” sabay hagikgik sa salitang “crush.”

“Sus,” say ko in my best nagmamalinis-dahil-ina-ako voice. “Ke bata-bata nyo pa may mga crush-crush na kayo?”

Wait for thunder and lightning to strike me. Wala naman. Whew. Na-realize ang pagka-ipokrita ko.

“Eh ikaw, meron na?” sabay akyat ng kilay sa 44th floor ng noo ko.

“Wala po!” Angelic smile si Ging. Hmnnn.

“Well, okay lang naman yang crush kung ina-admire nyo lang. Yung humahanga lang sa isang person.” Sabayy kambyo ng ganun, oh!

Napakunot ilong si Ging. Tapos bigla nag-clear.

“Uhm, ako po may ina-admire…”

Muntik nang ilaglag ang bowl ng sinigang at platito ng toyo. “SINO?!?”

“Si ___ po.” (WAG I-TAG SI GING! SECRET NAMIN TO!)

“Ahhh yung ___ honor nyo? Kasi matalino siya?”

“Opo, saka nice sya, lagi siyang nagsa-smile sakin. Pero minsan nagpe-play din siya with the other boys na noisy.”

“Ahhh, okay. Basta admire-admire lang ha, wala muna yang boyfriend-bofriend.” Self-righteous mode. Wait ulit baka dumating na ang kidlat.

“YUCK!” sabi ni Ging sabay acting na nasusuka. “Bleah!”

Gooood. Freeze this moment. Wag na dumating sa 12, 14 or 16 years old na siya. SCARY!!!

Day 1

I realized why I’ve been extra stressed lately. Okay, there’s a lot of reasons. A looot. But this hit me especially hard one day: I haven’t been writing. Before my other accounts were hacked, I maintained a couple of blogs that I frequently updated, jotting down every little thought and any random event that occurred to me. It’s great therapy.

Then I got lazy. Posting one- or two-liner status updates or tagging photos seemed so much easier. So now, my brain’s turned to mush and I have months of lamentations and gossips to catch up on.

I will write and write, even when I have nothing to say, even when I sound redundant. I’m sure something useful and creative would eventually come out of my rants.

So before I go to sleep, I have to get this off my chest. For people who like to play their music players or phones on LOUD-SPEAKER-MODE in public places (i.e., bus, jeepneys, restaurants and – eek- even cinemas), I will refer you to a great little invention you should have brought along with your gadgets: EARPHONES.

I commute everyday, and when I ride with people who do this, I can barely contain my urge to push them off the bus while speeding on SLEX. It’s a public space and I think it’s quite obnoxious to shove your music choices down my throat. I’m trying to sleep here, or at the every least, try to enjoy what little peace and quiet there is, given the vehicle’s loud exhaust pipe and the creaks and heaves of every bump, the other passengers’ incessant chatter and the sound of other cars on the road. Do I have to suffer Michael Learns To Rock on repeat mode, from Los Banos to Alabang?

I’m not saying my play lists are better than yours; some of my choice would make others cringe. Which is why I wear earphones! So while I understand the need for you to flaunt your high-end phone’s playback capabilities or your newly G-masked iPod, I suggest you keep your tunes to yourself. Not only are you incredibly rude and annoying, you’re giving that man next to you the option to play snatcher today.

So if you love you player, keep it, and if you would prefer to stay inside the bus for the duration of the ride, be goddamn discreet.