September 26, 2011
I thought of sharing these photos in light of what’s happening in news lately. So much hate, cyber crimes, cyber bullying and actual bullying in schools. Should we discuss this? I’ve been really disturbed by what’s happening all over – the young guys in Pampanga, the 11-year old boy in Toronto and the 14 year old gay boy in the US.
As parents of young children, we’re constantly holding their hands trying to raise them in an environment filled with love and understanding. Then after preschool, they’re faced with mean kids, bullies, scary people. What do you do?
There’s no step by step manual for parenting. I’m not a fan of reading parent guide books. Luckily I’m surrounded by friends who happen to be professionals in psychology and family counselling. I try to work with the wisdom they impart regarding parenting. And I also base a lot of my parenting skills on the way my parents raised me. I don’t really have a formula. I try my best to be present and active in their lives – together as a family and one-on-one with each kid. We balance being doting parents and imposing discipline in a positive way. Only time will tell if we’re doing the right thing.
My 8 year old started writing her “novel.” She told me that they would be quizzed in computer classes this week. Unlike most urban private-schoolled 8-year olds in Metro Manila, she does not have a Facebook account. I refuse to let her into this crazy world of the internet just yet. Facebook rules say – no kids below 13 should join. There’s a reason for that. So no Facebook. For keeping in touch with our family overseas, we have the iPhone Facetime. For games, they borrow our iPads. For talking to friends, we try to arrange parent-supervised play dates.
But she wanted to practise her typing skills. So I taught her how to use Microsoft Word instead. Hence, the novel. Chapter 1 and 2 deals with war, moving from Japan to Canada, bullies, money for college and going back to Canada. I posted this in Instagram and I got interesting feedback, like “war?”, “complex topics for an 8year old?”, “wow!” It got me thinking. Yes, she is a bit deep. Deeper than I was at that age. She’s a voracious reader! I met with the school teachers over the weekend. She’s doing very well academically and she finally has a school best friend. I almost cried when the teacher told me she’s very intelligent and that they were very proud of her. We don’t even give that much emphasis on academics right now. Absolutely no pressure. Same way our parents did with us.
She has depth, yes. We do not let them watch noontime shows, ASAP or telenovelas. But she’s been to rock concerts and to TV stations and the set of Willie’s show (off hours). We turn off the TV if there’s sensational news like a horrible car crash or riots. But despite those precautions, she’s still very aware of the general issues of the world – the tsunami, earthquakes. She made up a club called Peace Club. She learned about World War 1 and 2 because of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. She learned about fatal diseases because of Beatrix Potter and the recent AH1N1 and Dengue scares. She knows about poverty and malnourishment because of my UNICEF work. So really, we can only shelter them that much. They eventually have to know about the world. In the case of my 8 year old, she just seems more interested in current events than most kids her age.
So now I’m thinking, should she really be this deep? She has her diversions; she watches pre-approved and age-appropriate movies, she plays with Barbies, reads Total Girl magazine every month, she plays in the park, practices ice skating and she has her BFF’s (one unfortunately moved to Oman, perhaps the inspiration of her novel). And lately she started playing Moshi Monsters online – only while I’m around though. Those networking games are so scary as well. I told her to never give her name, address and school’s name to her “friends.” Naturally she asked why a hundred times. So I had to tell her that there could be bad people pretending to be kids – with the intentions of being “children grabbers.”
It’s so scary to be a parent now…
While we live in this crazy cyber world, I always make it a point that the kids play outdoors. They get their park time. One afternoon, I had to force the 5-year old to go for a walk. She didn’t want to get sweaty. Uh oh. The cutest thing about their outdoor play is their “pasalubong” for me. Lily never fails to bring me a flower everytime. Sophia has outgrown this ritual.
I wish our kids’ lives could always be as lovely and friendly as it is in preschool. With drawings and hand-picked wild flowers. I want to protect them from mean people. But I want them to learn to stand up and fight for themselves.
I want to rid this world of bullies. Every child deserves an environment with no violence – from adults and fellow children. I talked to my sister about this. Hanni’s son, a 4 year old, had an anti-bullying day in his Toronto preschool. I asked her to share what they learned. Maybe parents and teachers here should start talking about this. I’ve been hearing too many bullying stories lately. I wish we could do something about it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…