There's a new mag out, headed by feisty mag journo Gina "Manhattan" Abuyuan, she with the nice bags. It's called H.I.P.P., which stands for Happy, Progressive, Intelligent Parenting. Not sure I fit the bill, but I do know it's been a fine adventure so far. Kala and I were recently asked to write a piece each for the mag's first issue, so here's mine, and the next one's by Kala. Thanks for dropping by...
RENATO REDENTOR CONSTANTINO
March 2009, maiden issue
My kids have taken to calling me Yatat these days. It came out of a "backwards game" the children began late last year and ever since then things have become funnier and more ridiculous.
I think they find "Tatay" rolls off the tongue better when spoken from the last letter to the first, and it's the same with other words from the family vocabulary. Ever tried saying "Pass the rice" or "The dog escaped!" or "Something stinks!" in reverse? Coolness. And try it in Filipino.
It sometimes tests the patience of Kala, their rational mum, but more often the silliness is tolerated or laughed at. After all, the kids are playing with words, they're having a good time, and the silliest member of the household, the so-called Daddyman -- he actually likes joining the juvenile fray.
I like playtime with the children. Racing boats along the gutter during a heavy downpour, paper planes. Toy cars, dolls, water fights. I get to slough off the grime of adult life accumulated through the years and I also feel a lot closer to the kids -- a closeness that gives me a better understanding of what fascinates them while I retrieve a few of the small joys that accompanied me during my childhood.
I like story-telling and fibbing and making things up. Minus the motivation of malice, tall tales are fascinating; they can make the universe of children wander around or expand.
Our two kids -- they have interesting, different takes when it comes to stories.
We like telling friends that our 10 year-old boy, Rio, is a free spirit now. He's a normal chap -- likes ball games, adores Samurai Jack (like his dad), has an affinity for mayhem, loves computer games (every now and then Rio goes out Friday nights to play Warcraft/Defense of the Realm with a gang of lawyers led by his uncle). But right now one of his strongest qualities is that he's a reader and he knows this.
First time Rio discovered he could read he never looked back. He's the only boy I know who'd forego a whole day with his grandfather's Sony Playstation just to finish a really good novel. He shares books with his grandparents -- a four part historical novel about Julius Caesar, for instance, or the eleven-book Robert Jordan fantasy novel series that his mum and dad, aunts, uncle and grandfather had each finished reading only four or five years ago. The more he reads, the hungrier he gets.
There are days when we talk about the science of gnawing steak bones and the molecular composition of slime and boogers. But other days Rio tells me about books he's reading and why some seem great (Brian Ruckley's The Godless World for example) and others are not, and we talk about characters, plots, the writing. When he finished Tolkien's masterpiece years ago, he told me why the book was far better than Peter Jackon's movie, and we talked about why my favorite character was the fallible Boromir, not Aragorn, and why I admired Sam more than Frodo.
Our six year-old daughter Luna, she has a different approach.
In the first week of the new year, the postman delivered to our house two postcards from Krakow. One was in sepia, showing a grand square and an old hotel. The other was a dark photo of a park in the evening, lamps glowing in the background, illuminating a single bench.
I wrote to the kids while I was in Poland last December. I wrote about things I had seen and that I was also rather sad while I was there. Luna claimed the postcard with a park for her own and she tucked it under her pillow that night. In the morning she asked me about fog, lamps and the kind of people who sat on the park bench and why they went there.
Luna expresses herself mostly through drawing and painting and the images are captivating. She invents whole worlds. Luna did a drawing once with four houses which had one sun each, because she said each home needed their own sun. Then there's the rice field that she drew populated with happy jellyfish. She does portraits from photos we choose from magazines but she won't paint people if I don't choose the pictures for her even though she likes going through magazines.
We talk about the work of artists like Chagall, and though she does not really know the famed painter she wants to know why such a strong, deep blue was used and why he made people float across his canvass. I show her pictures of other masterpieces, and I tell her why Jackson Pollock, Olazo and Manny Garibay are geniuses and why mimics of Twombly are twerps. She is fascinated with art composed through drips, diaphanous shapes and melancholy.
It's a magical world, as Calvin and Hobbes scripture says, so just keep to simple precepts when it comes to raising kids. Love one another. Wash your hands. Brush your teeth. Be just. Be fair. Share. Stay glued when it's Whacked Out Sports and Mr. Bean on the boob tube. #
KALA's MACAU ESSAY
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