In A few days our eldest daughter, Celina Mikhaille, will be eleven. We have an eleven-year-old who will soon be turning into a teenager, then an adult.

I was jolted into this reality while sitting on my couch, trying to relax but suddenly invaded with quite alarming thoughts. Kayla has a social dance on the 6th of February, a junior prom-slash-'socials' of sorts for fifth and sixth graders. I do not know exactly how it's called, it's a dance... where my daughter will be asked to dance... by boys.

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Sure, I feel excited for my daughter (talking almost nonstop about practices and table etiquette lessons and such every dinner time) but I have that queasy feeling at the pit of my stomach. I realized it's her eleventh birthday in a few days, and bam!!! There is now that huge knot inside I cannot seem to dissolve with my all-time tranquilizer, Coca-Cola. Bringing her for gown fitting and seeing how she looked dazzling in it did not help.

We are blessed with three daughters who all seem too wise for their age (don't all mothers think that, anyway)... sometimes it feels like they were born adults, "old souls" as my Lolo Pedring tells them. More often than not it is easy to let them understand even the most complicated of things. We live in a world where there are a lot of strange things going on, and oftentimes you cannot simply evade their curious questions with "I'll explain when you are older", or "someday you will understand".

Sometimes you have to address the questions straight up, confident (or at least feeling so) that they can and should learn about it better from you than anyone else (complicated Math problems NOT included).

Well, even simple questions like - Kayla, when she was 2: "When a spider grows up does it become a crab?" ("No, baby, they are different species.") Gelai, when she was 5: "Ma, why is the girlfriend 'hot'?", when she heard "Don't cha think your girlfriend was hot like me?"("She's probably sick. Feverish.") Nadine, barely 3, when I told her she should always be good because Papa Jesus is watching, "Where? I can't see him aman (naman)" ("You can't but He is just here beside you". And she looked at me as if I were a basket case.)

Our kids are exposed not only to the strangest things, but also to complicated relationships and family issues which are part of who they are, part of their lives.

We cannot shield them forever and leave them unaware of harsh realities. To deny them the truth and the explanations therefor would be to deny them a part of their person.

Contrary to what others may perceive, I have lived a relatively complicated existence, particularly in personal and family affairs. I am not ashamed, nor regretful - I am where I am, and I am trying my best to get where I want to be, complications and all.

As much as I would want to create a smooth road ahead for my kids, one with no turns, twists and rough spots, I cannot. It is probably best that way. It will help them deal with things, know how to address their problems, and teach them not to waste time on regrets.

All these in just one gown-fitting session? Oh no. I'm getting all old and sentimental.

Hand me that ice cold Coke now.

"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings." - Hodding Carter

Happy birthday, Kayla. We love you and adore you everyday. (Regina May Cajucom)