It was a fine Friday night when I volunteered to wash the dishes after dinner knowing it would be faster to finish this way as Mike, the kids and I decided that we’ll be dropping by the mall before it closes to run some errands. We were cheerful and surprisingly the kids were peacefully finishing up when Mike, all of a sudden, checks his phone and screams, “WHAT?! NO WAY?! YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS!” I’m very jumpy and probably not the best person to be with when watching horror movies. Like I can scream with just the sound of a phone ringing when it gets super suspense. On the other hand, Mike has a tendency to be a little dramatic and would normally overreact when he reads that his favorite NBA player gets drafted to another team or there’s a Buy 1 Take 1 buffet. So I responded with his screaming as expected…tensed.
That Thing That Happened.
Mike still doesn’t want to spill the beans out he just told me to check my phone. Now things are getting surreal, but I didn’t want to fold. As I was vigorously scrubbing the plates he showed me a message in our discipleship group (DGroup) chat that read: Patay na po si Trillion, nalunod. Please pray for miracles, please. (Trillion is dead, he drowned. Please pray for miracles, please.) I stopped. Got my phone and called everyone in our group.
Trillion, who just turned 4 at this time, son of our DGroup member, unfortunately drowned together with his friend who were just innocently running around in their small community until they found themselves by the swimming pool at the clubhouse. No one really knows how and why they were there. No witnesses, just mere accident.
I knew in an instant that we needed to be where the family was at that moment. Knowing Trillion’s mom was 7 months pregnant then, I couldn’t stand to continue our plans for the night thinking someone else is buried in sorrow. We dropped the kids at my in-law’s, picked up another DGroup member along the way and we headed to be with the family.
What Killed Me.
A couple of hours later, we arrived at the mortuary and we immediately found the wailing mother and the restless father. I couldn’t help but to cry with them as I learned the full story. It made me shaky, I think it still does until now knowing how unexpected things turned out to be. At that moment, I wasn’t even sure if it all sunk in with me already until Mike and I asked where Trillion’s body is. Trillion’s dad was courteous enough to show us where he is. We went to this room with a man embalming a corpse and saw Trillion and his friend on the floor waiting for their turn. When the dad slowly opened the cloth that was covering they boy’s face, I just broke in tears as Mike wrapped his arms around me and we both cried as if we were the parents. There he was, the 4-year old boy with a fresh haircut, wearing a white camisa de chino, looking so peaceful in his deep slumber.
If It Were My Kids.
It was real. Trillion was dead, lying in front of us. For a moment we were still in denial, thinking if Jesus brought the dead back during his time, I’m pretty sure he can easily make this one alive again. I was holding on to that story until the day of his funeral came when he was finally buried. He really was gone.
I spent the next few weeks secretly crying when I’m alone. I know for a fact that life is short. That death happens to all of us, young and old. People die everyday, no exceptions. But I wasn’t prepared to witness it this close. I saw my kids in them. I pictured my son on that floor scoring the same haircut as Trillion and I wasn’t just ready. I won’t ever be.
But what made me afraid more is that, if it were my child, will I ever overcome not just his death but the fact that I was a terrible mother to him when he was still living?
It’s no secret that I am temperamental. As much as I am ashamed to let the public know this about me, I have to admit that I am really bad at handling my anger. I let it control me and I would take it out on my kids probably leaving scars on their hearts forever.
I remember when I started homeschooling my daughter, she was 5 years old back then and I was pressured by a lot of people/society that she should be reading before she’ll turn 6. I felt rushed so I pressed on her. I would get frustrated if she won’t get the lesson; I will shout, throw books, break pencils, and there are times that I would ask myself why is she stupid? Everyday she would cry and be traumatized. Harsh, huh? I was flying very high on my expectations that my husband decided to pull me down to the ground by reminding me this simple yet heavy truth: She is just 5.
Did you ever have the same moments in your family? You expect your kids to learn things right then and there when you, yourself, still make mistakes up to this day. What you learned on your 30s, you expect your kids to learn during their teenage years. Our standards are so high that we damage the children and prevent them in becoming humans.
There are little moments in our everyday life that God would humble me. Every time my kids would spill something and I would raise my voice at them you know hat happens in the next couple of minutes? I would spill something and they would look at me and repeat the exact same words I just told them. Man, I would really be embarrassed. It’s like God is telling me that no one is perfect here. Stop judging and start understanding. Let your kids enjoy their childhood because one day you’ll miss them and you’d wish they never grew up.
(Just so you know, I felt guilty on how I treated our daughter during the first year of our homeschooling that I decided to be a mother more than a teacher. She’s 8 years old now and have been reading very well without crying.)
When You Tell Your Kids To Grow Up.
Last week I had a chance to get a couple of days without the kids thus spending it decluterring and cleaning our attic where more toys are stored. I told myself that this is the perfect chance for me to sort and dispose toys that in my opinion are just a bunch of mess. Then a thought suddenly hit me: am I really doing this for the kids or just to do myself a favor so I won’t have to always clean up after them? Do I really want to take away their most prized possessions for my own advantage?
When we express how much we want our kids to grow up or maybe wishing they’d just skip the age 2-8 where they are most energetic and fast forward to the time where they won’t need as much supervision, do we say it for their benefit or for our own convenience? Because, honestly when I say it, deep in my heart I meant for them to grow up because I am tired. I know I will regret this when they finally become old.
How about remarks such as: you’re already 8 you should act more like an adult now and quit fooling around! That’s me talking to my daughter. Forgive me for I don’t know what I was saying. Most of the time it’s out of my own frustrations in life. Just like the time when she was very young and oh how she loved to jump around—on the sofa and worst on our bed when I am trying to sleep or immersed in watching my favorite show—and I would really snap and yell at her to stop. One time I got really mad that I made her jump non-stop for 10 mins just so she’d realize that she isn’t a kangaroo and if she’d want to be one, she would have to jump for the rest of her life. Boy oh boy, I remember that day she was crying a river while jumping. It wasn’t my best moment either. Telling a kid to stop being a child is like telling a grown-up to stop breathing.
Why is it that as parents, we love to steal the joy from them?
Did she ever stop jumping? Nope. What I did to her few years ago is more like a punishment than discipline. I learned the difference now. Punishing is like sentencing a man to a lifetime imprisonment. You’ve already made a decision there is no future for him. Whereas discipline is given with love and trust knowing the person will still change and when he does, he’s stronger, better, and more careful.
My husband, Mike, has a wonderful insight about the reason parents lose their temper easily on his blog How To Eliminate Your Short Temper And avoid completely ruining your kids’ lives. He said that in this technology-driven world, multitasking has become the culprit of irrational outrage. Kids will be kids but at the same time their guardian is in the middle of composing a witty caption for her IG story. We usually choose to focus on the one that is more interesting for us… the latter. Doing so much things at the same time is a joke that dresses up like a remarkable skill. Sure, people can multitask but it sucks the life out of us and we leave the most important member of the family heart broken.
Had I only decided to stay awake for a while and watch my daughter make those jumps or turned off the TV and see how much she is having fun as a child, I wouldn’t probably had ruined quarter of her childhood memories.
As kids, we were always taught about honoring of parents. In fact, there are hundreds of topics about it that even those people who don’t believe in God knows this by heart. And as a parent, I feel like we often abuse this commandment when it should always co-exist with another fact: love your children.
Don’t you think that our kids deserve to be loved and respected the same way that we demand them to treat us?