I wondered why Julia was so enamoured with this plain white box that she found in her lolo’s house. She kept on pestering us to go home immediately so that she can work on her project. While we headed straight to the room, she was left outside to create in our work desk. Here is what she came up with:
Last weekend, we went to our Farm in Alupay, Tayabas. This little outing was already long overdue. My relatives already had numerous treks but I was not able to be with them because I was pregnant and then eventually I had to stay home most of the time to take care of the baby and breastfeed. Now that Jansen is a little older, I can already have this day off. It is also about time to inspect our little bahay kubo.
This aphorism was popularized by Architect Mies van der Rohe who perfected the minimalist aesthetic design. This phrase has been used to mean breaking down the components into its simplest form to create the modernist look as opposed to the embellished characteristics of baroque and romanticism.
Although I use this as part of my design aesthetic, I figured that I may have used this unknowingly in parenting. That by providing my kids with less of their wants, I have gained more.
My goal for the past few years has been to be selective with what we buy. This is mainly because of our need to budget and partly because we have a tiny house. I would like to get rid of clutter but for a family with two kids, it is really a struggle. So I limit their clothes, books, and their toys which occupy our storage spaces.
However, Julia loves to go to the toy store and buy those little animal figures especially the rabbits that cost about 150 pesos each. I sometimes give in but mostly I don’t because it’s expensive. What I did was, I gave her another option and allowed her to use polymer clay. This is a type of clay that hardens like plastic when baked in the oven. With this, she can mold her character and make as many as she wants for as low as 100 pesos for a small block of clay.
She was so into it that sometimes when I wake up, she’s in my craft area making her little figures. I never expected how creative she can be with her sculptures. At first, there were a lot of mistakes but eventually she made intricate creations that left me in awe like this.
Here are some of her latest creations that she keeps in her small box together with her other miniatures:
By not having enough budget for toys and not giving in to buying things, we never would have discovered the magic of customizing with clay. Not only does it look way cuter than the commercial version but these have added value because it’s her original creations. And to make these, she needs creativity, imagination, and development of fine motor skills that can’t be bought in the toy store.
My parenting direction, similar to my approach on everything else, is to just be honest. Honesty in terms of what is simple, embodies what we believe in, and what I am capable of. I think about this as a guide whenever I make decisions regardless how insignificant like “what language to use in our house.”
We are really not the English-speaking kind of household even before I had kids. When my brother Ryan and I were young, we learned to understand and speak English with the shows we watch and when we were in school. But I can attest that Ryan, even though we are in a purely Filipino speaking household, is unparalleled when it comes to the English grammar. I am not sure if my brother was just a freak of nature or an exception so I still found myself thinking about what to use when I had Julia.
“May yaya ka ngayon?” is a phrase I often hear when us moms gather while waiting for our kids. This was me early last year. How difficult is it to find a trustworthy, kind, and loyal yaya/ househelp nowadays? When I had my first born it was fairly easy. They last for more than a year and very dependable. With Jansen, all I can say is I have seen it all.. or most of it.
The Writer. A very talented helper. So talented that she fails to do the laundry and clean because she prefers to write instead.
The Vain. Perfectly coiffed and above everyone else. She loves to get things her way and if she doesn’t be prepared to be shooed away.
The Quiet Worker. She doesn’t speak at all. When you ask her she refuses to answer you right back. Be prepared for a life of monologues and for leaving with no reason. You won’t get any because she refuses to share her thoughts.
The Crazy. Out of nowhere she asks you “Di ba kayo kumakin ng tuyo?” This was right in the middle of cleaning the toilet. She talks to herself, and then butts in other people’s conversation with no relation to the topic, asks far off questions, and does everything out of the ordinary.
The Donya. She doesn’t want to wash dishes and clean the house or do the laundry. All she wants is to play with the baby while I should be the one to do all the household chores.
The Sneaky Smoker. When I asked if she smokes before hiring her, she adamantly denies it but then I wondered why she smells of cologne all the time. She also takes breaks frequently. I asked her if she smoked because I can smell it (I have this bionic smell for anything stinky) and she denied it again saying that the neighbors are to blame for the smoke.
The Vanishing Act. One that showed no sign of leaving but disappears in the middle of the night.
The Always Advanced. Asks for her salary in advance and has an outstanding balance of more than three months. When it came her turn to pay for her “utang” there always seem to be something happening in her life as the reason not to pay. I get nervous when she starts with “Ate pwede ba…” because I end up paying money. She never returned after her day off.
The Two-Faced Thief. She is the worst ever. One that bullies me into buying her whatever she liked in exchange for not leaving. Bad mouths and convinces us to remove other workers and hire her friends. Her friends act as the lookouts and conspirators for her stealing money and items in the house. Taking secret trips when we’re not in the house with boxes of items (caught on cctv) with her. Asking for money to buy food but using only half of it. The other half, she uses to buy her own groceries to take home. She claims that since she’s not earning more, it is her right to steal. She also tries to teach the other helpers to do the same. When confronted about it, she goes on with the full denial and threatens us.
Even if I had multiple worse experiences, I also had a handful that are wonderful, caring, thoughtful, and kind people who took care of my children like their own. I am grateful for having them in our lives. They had helped me more than they can imagine and I always think back that they are angels for a mom like me. They had to leave because of family circumstances and maybe the desire for a better life. And with their kind hearts I really believe that they will do well.
Having a family help is both difficult and easy. Difficult in terms of hiring, teaching, then eventually entrusting your child but it is easy because you can simultaneously finish tasks. With my experiences, I ended up enrolling Jansen in daycare because it is more dependable and I am assured that he will be taken cared of. The availability of that service opened another door for working moms like me to have the option to work full time. I am also thankful for my job that provides a discount to fees for both my kids. With the changes in our income profile, I think that it will be more difficult to find help in the future. I should therefore prepare Julia and Jansen to survive a life without it just like my mother did with me.
I got a text one Friday afternoon from Astrid, asking if we are free the next day Saturday. She invited us to go to Laiya with them as part of her husband’s camping class. After a lot of sweet talking mainly directed to Henry, we packed our bags and anticipated a weekend of relaxed living and pa-cute climb. After all, we are going to the beach!