The New Kid

I transferred Max to a new and big school just last month, I was scared how it would be for her as the new kid. On her first day, I settled in a small sofa outside the directress’ office sorta like a waiting area near her classroom, “Ma’am, it would be best if you won’t be here tomorrow so Maxine can adjust right away.” Right. Short of saying, “So YOU can adjust right away, Mommy.” So the next day I just drove around school, stopping every five minutes in front of the playground until the security guard approached me, “Ma’am, andun po yung parking area.” Oo alam ko okey, pinapanood ko lang yung anak ko, new student kasi sya e alamo ba yun. Baka kasi awayin sya ng mga kaklase nya or baka kurutin ng teacher. Teka teka teka, bakit ka nga ba nangingialam? E kung ikaw kaya ang ihagis ko sa parking area?! Di mo ba naiintindihan, nanay ako okey! WOKEY.
“Ah okay, salamat ho manong.”
I watch Max watch the world. Watch her make friends. Watch her face trying to understand me, listening in such a real way it is almost heartbreaking. I watch and wait for her to answer back about a world she is obviously so interested in, sensitive to. Like a miniature sage.
“Mom, how come there’s no moon tonight?” “How come it rains?”
“I don’t know baby…”
Because I really don’t know. I know nothing of moons and why sometimes they appear white in the daytime, lingering in the mornings while it should only appear at night. And that rain is precipitation but it is just too boring to say that. In fact, one day she will find that I know very little. That I know nothing, really. And yet, now, I feel compelled to give her answers…
“Moon is just playing hide-and-seek with the stars and I think Vega is it!” “You know, it rains when the bluefairy cries…”
I’m still learning, Max. Or someday you will tell me. I don’t know if this is the right approach. But I’m learning and trying and figuring it out as I go. Just as you are with your speech and your songs and your life.
I still can’t believe you exist. It has been four years and I guess I figured I would be used to you by now. But sometimes when I pick you up from school there is a moment where I open the door and think, did I really have a child? Is this a dream? And then you appear with hair all over your face your hairclip missing, with dirty white uniform and a half-eaten sandwich in your lunchbox and a toque made of paper, glued on both ends, you told me you cooked in school and you’re a chef now and yes, there you are. I remember now.
Moments have passed. Life shape-shifts. You grow up. I remember our past and cannot believe I have so easily forgotten much of where you’ve been.. I have photos to remind me. And memories. And old things. Did you really fit into those crocheted booties? And I never knew you had such shiny eyes until it lit up when you first laid eyes on a real elephant. Big Mama loved you. Shucks man, I couldn’t believe I could see thru your soul. If only I could take her home just for you, a pachyderm in the backyard would be really cool! Yeah, I think so, too.

Big Mama

You have become independent now. You climb monkeybars by yourself and ride the swing with no hands. You and Juliana have secrets and always giggle like teenage girls. You say you hate boys but why do you love kissing Railey? I almost had a breakdown when you said you wanted to be a rockstar, when all I wanted was for you to invent something like Google. You demand for band-aids and new pairs of high-heels and even for nail polish. You disagree, fight with me and break my heart now. But then to neutralize, you give me four-year old giant hugs and kisses. Come here baby. “I am not a baby! Maia is the baby” But you still are. Yes you’re a new kid now but you’ll always be my first baby forever, even if someday I would have to stand on my tippy-toes to kiss you.

Max & Juliana

"We hate boys!"

Thank you for reminding me that anything is possible and to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation that I’ve ignored when I became adult… the moon, the rain, the elephants…
Happy fourth birthday Maxxiebear, loving you always like an insane person.
Here are some photos of some of your firsts. I cried and cried when you made that major decision to grow up.

First bath.

My first night-out as a mom. And I thought I would never have one. (With Lilian on her Manila vacation.)

First feel of sand. ...And she fell in love instantly.

First subway ride.

Max the future surfer.

– Babinski Mama Mae

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