I thought it would be a great idea to ask my older cousin Tanya (who babysat / entertained / cared for my 6 year old for 4 days in Manila) to write about her experience with my son.
Saturday, October 4, 2008A Six Year Old Pedestrian
Lessons I've re-learned from my six-year old nephew in a span of 4-days.
1) Mornings are for waking up.
A conversation between my nephew and myself went like this:
Josh: What time will you wake up tomorrow?
Me: When you wake up
Josh: Nooooo.... you're still asleep when I'm awake eh!
2) Eat complete meals. Snacks are not considered meals.
Meals mean rice and cooked food. Bread does not constitute a meal, it is a snack. There are three meals in a day and one should cook or prepare adequately for a meal. Meals are important if you want to keep up with the energy of a six-year old.
3) Footprints and handprints are forgivable.
Black footprints on immaculately white sala cushion covers or lemon yellow dining room seats, or oily fingerprints on car uphostery are not so bad when the cause is a six-year old who feels comfortable enough to crawl into these seats. Solution, assign him a specific dining room seat for the duration of his stay. Less chairs to clean that way. And oh, wash his feet often and name him Joshua Blackfoot (i think he actually likes the sound of it)
4) Keep your promises.
Promises are made to be kept whether it be a glass of halo-halo in Chowking or a visit to a children's fun center or a morning of swimming in the pool. Trust is built on keeping one's word. In return, you also have a cooperative and pleasant kid along during the time you also have to go to a meeting or the office. He keeps his word too.
5) Decisions are best made with everyone's participation.
Each day begins with the writing of a list. A list of tasks, errands and also fun things to be done. This way, the day is both structured and planned out. Josh got to write the list and tick off each task as it was done. Spelling was of course subjective but the end of the day felt great: One day's list read something like:
1. Bring "amma bidit" to Ateneo
2. Fix bedings
3. See pool
4. Talk to carpenters
5. Pass auntie's office
6. Red Barn
7. OPAPP (my other office)
8. Meet Shalom at IPD
10. The End
6) Children are children and Adults are adults.
No matter how pleasant or structured or fixed are any arrangements, children will at one point throw a tantrum. Be it because they are sleepy or because they miss home, they will cry and refuse to do what they otherwise gladly do (change into house clothes, brush their teeth, go to sleep) and in these instances, be the adult and make them do it but tuck them into bed with a kiss and a hug and a stuffed penguin for lack of any other available replacement for his Pooh bear. In the morning, you'll be greeted bright and early by a smiling kid.
7) Words make powerful impressions.
Chose your words and reasoning well. In explaining why we were not going BACK again to the children's fun center for a third time, I reminded Joshua that in the conference we had come from, there were children of community members who would not even get to see the fun center at all. It seems this image stuck with him as he went home so as to mention it to my mom in Baguio. Another instance was when Josh was given 100 pesos by my mom to buy anything he wanted. I brought him to a toy store where he said he would buy something for himself and for his little brother. I said we woud use his money. After an inordinately long time of going around the aisles, i realized he was not conflicted about which toys to buy, he was trying to see what was not expensive. My heart almost melted thinking no toy these days would be under 100 pesos and he had both himself and his brother to think of. Needless to say, we choose moderately priced toys over 100 pesos and i gladly footed the bill.
8) Children (and no doubt adults too) glow when they know they're loved.
Josh couldn't stop smiling and asking for the story to be repeated that his mom told him over the phone that his brother was looking for him in drawers going "Josh... wer ah yoo..?". Josh looked forward to calling home every night (or anytime he could press the speed dial) and candidly would say he missed his mom and dad and dash and Pooh bear then just as candidly and confidently say they missed him too. A kiss, a hug and a lot of affection would elicit a smile from Josh but not as big as when he was on the way home.
... and that is the biggest lesson of all...
and oh yeah... I need twice the energy I thought I had to keep up. I must have lost 5lbs and a whole day's sleep (or at least the equivalent of a day's sleep for me) in 4 days...