“As your kids grow they may forget what you said, but won’t forget how you made them feel.” — Kevin Heath
Back in the 80s, I grew up in a simple household – we were not well off but we were comfortable, close-knit and happy. Though our hard-working parents would have a long commute to work everyday, they made sure that everyone was together for dinner at night. It was during those family meals and weekends spent together that I would learn some of the lessons that I still practice to this day.
Respect and Gratitude
We started every meal with a prayer of thanks. Then we passed the food around and made sure everyone on the table was able to get their share. I was taught to show respect by getting only enough food that I could finish eating. I was reminded of the people who had nothing to eat, so I should not waste the blessings given to me.
After meals, my siblings and I would take turns clearing the table and washing dishes. Dad would always remind us to turn off the faucet while we were scrubbing the plates so the water won’t continuously be flowing. Dad would always say that we have to play our part as water is not an infinite resource.
Whenever we meet older relatives or family friends, we would do the “mano”, a Filipino gesture of respect where the younger person bows and takes the older person’s hand and puts it on their forehead – a sign of seeking for one’s blessing. Also, when we speak to people older than us we would use the words “opo”, which means “yes, with respect”, and “po” in every sentence as we talk to them. ‘Po’is a term for respect.
At a young age, our folks brought us to their fellowship communities. There we attended Catechism with other kids, and because kids are easy to make friends, we were able to build friendships from this group. We would look forward to seeing our friends on weekends for fun and games. We also learned to share with the children in the community – from harvested fruits to books for school.
Mom and Dad did not spoil us. There were times we wanted some toys so bad but we either had to wait for Christmas for Santa to give them (that means being good throughout the year); save up for it; or make our own.
I had a childhood friend and we loved playing doctor. I created my own ‘medical supplies’ with a stick thermometer, a plastic bag filled with water and tied with a string as a pretend dextrose, and a headmirror made of paper.
Or when my brother and I played we would make our own memory cards; or make small towns on the garden using popsicle sticks and lego. I remember being extra careful so that the miniature town would be perfect in case some smurfs pass by – so they can make themselves comfortable.
For one of my birthdays mom gave me a big piggy bank. At the time, I put in only 2 peso coins there. When it was full, mom and I excitedly counted all the 2 peso coins I saved and I got a total of a little over 500 pesos back then. Afterwards, mom brought me to the bank where I opened my first savings account.
Use My Imagination
This was my favorite way of spending idle time. My parents equipped us with informational books – about the universe, birds, countries – and I remember my brother and I would go through all the books and play a game reciting as much as we can later on. When we play the badminton we would name a bird or a country with every strike on the shuttercock – no repeaters or else one loses the game.
We would look at the clouds and describe what we see. One night while playing hide and seek I looked up to the moon and saw a shadow of a witch on a broomstick. I panicked and called out to my playmates to quit the game and go home, or else the witch would get us. I must have looked silly back then but mom indulged me and said I was right, and it was a good idea indeed to call it a day.
What were the best things you learned from your younger years?
One’s formative years is usually during early childhood – up until 8 years old. This is a critical period where a person develops body, mind, emotions and social skills.
Looking back, I remember I did not understand some of the things my folks taught me to do, and at times I wondered what the fuss was all about. As I got older I began to appreciate those little things that molded me to the person I am now.