Culture, the thread that makes us one-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
THERE are memories that seem so trivial and yet stick with you and bring a smile. Like…buying ballpens.
This I say with the reminder that I’m single and never been a mom.
I mean, when you’re a mom who had to go through the school opening rush, what’s the joy in buying a ballpen?
The kids will always look forward to getting all those new stuff, all in one week or even one day, and sniff at the plastic covers and… get a rush of excitement over having new ballpens; the prevailing feeling being that of relief. That mom has finally complied with the teacher’s list.
Mom? Oh, she’s somewhere out there calming down her frazzled nerves after once again exclaiming, “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier today?” That is after a long day in the bookstore counting notebooks, pens, pencils, and rulers, and other school supplies from a long list collected from the children’s assignment notes.
Since I didn’t have kids, then the joy of having a new ballpen remained and has not been associated with by the frazzled nerves of school opening and a horde of kids needing this and that.
Family? They will always be the same. Maybe there will be differences in how much parents make and how big a house and how many toys and gadgets. But the conversations seem to follow a template.
Children will always tell their moms they need this and that only after the malls have closed or about to close sending mommy a-nagging. It’s a bigger challenge now because the modern Filipino family standard says, don’t scold and spank, just explain in a quiet way. Now we see moms just about ready to burst a major vein while speaking in a soft voice. “Anak…”
But there will always be that fit of nagging. Yes, it’s a common occurrence that has become almost a ritual. The non-stop nagging after a child asks where his or her socks and “baonan” are during the rush before going to school; the standard phrase in the nag being to use your eyes not your mouth.
We’ve heard that from our moms, almost every day as everyone is rushed off to school. We continue to hear that in present-day families. There is something about socks and moms, it’s always the mom who can find the missing pair, but only at the risk of getting nagged.
Even as a young kid, I have always loved olives.
Now think. Middle income family with four kids, me the youngest, at an age when we were often told that this or that food is only for the elders, “para lang yan sa mga matatanda”.
Think again, middle income family with three kids already in private school, the fourth one being an olive-chomping too young to be in pre-school little girl (when pre-school was just kindergarten and nothing else).
For a middle income family with all those children in school, a bottle of olives is a luxury. But you know how children can go through their favorite food like it was there for free (it is actually, because they’re not paying for it), and so, the bottle of olives was marked as food for the elders; not to be touched unless given.
I did wonder about that food classification (what’s good only for the elders and what’s for kids), but soon after forgot about it when school became the major concern, followed by when I was already able to buy my own olives, and then realized that there are indeed certain imps who love olives and can chomp through my stock in one sitting.
“Hep, hep, hep, you can only eat one because this is food for the elders,” I found myself saying.
Thus a light bulb lit up in an alleluia moment, so that’s what it meant…
I looked around and heard the same words spoken by mothers trying to extricate their toddler’s hand from something the toddler has taken a fancy on, “That is for older people” or “You’re too young for that”.
I don’t personally know these mothers nor grew up with them. I doubt if my mom knew them, but they are all speaking the same words. In the same way that we played similar games and had similar beliefs. I guess that is what culture is all about. It binds us all even if we do not know each other. The mere fact that we are Filipinos, we all knew Amy, Susie and Tessie (at least those of our generation and the next).
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 27, 2013.