Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter

One of the first things I discovered being a mom is that I live in a culture where being advanced is applauded. When Timmy was a little over a year old, a local TV show featured a 2-year-old genius who can write and read like a 5-year-old. My mom even called me to watch and said Timmy could also be like that. While it sure was a compliment from a grandma who sees the potential of her first apo (grandchild), it really got me nervous.

InstagramCapture_0025089a-06fa-4f0c-8ac1-29cec0c942cbClearly, that kid was the exception and featuring him was a great idea. But then it also added unnecessary pressure to all the parents watching the show at that time. I remember feeling so competitive back then but when I looked at my baby who was exploring, walking tiptoed, touching everything out of curiosity I asked myself, “Do you really need to do all that at 2 years old?” So I decided not to let that show affect me but I still couldn’t shake the pressure that came along with it.

As parents we all want our children to succeed and do well in life. But as I navigate this parenting journey, I realized that success is relative and it’s up to us to define what that is to our kids. I’m proud of my son and all the things he accomplishes—big or small. But I also realized that he can’t possibly do well in everything.

Advanced but not quite

Timmy may be way too advanced in reading but he still doesn’t color within the lines and he still finds it difficult to use scissors. Whatever big words he knows today will also be read by other kids of his age when they all grow up. We all follow the same curriculum guide from the Department of Education (DepEd) anyway and they will all learn the same thing down the line.

InstagramCapture_8c77beba-6775-4bba-bc56-0d32fbd17cf7He may write fast and I mean quickly scribble the letters/words that come to his mind but he doesn’t draw the usual stick people, cars, or houses that most boys do. He’s unconventional in so many ways like going for bond paper over ruled paper, colored pens over pencils, paints over crayons—and God has been using all these things to remove the conventional student mold in my head, to get my cue from my child’s interests more than what traditional schools dictate.

InstagramCapture_0a5db76c-3001-4bbe-bda2-6fe890dc785dTimmy loves numbers and reads them by the thousands and enjoys skip counting of even and odd numbers. He’s so fascinated with numbers that he even memorizes car plates! Haha! But he’s a careless counter. He loses track of what he counts because he gets too excited. He tends to skip pointing on objects or points twice at the same thing. So we’re still working on his slow counting. 🙂 Slow, slow, slow like a sloth as Eric Carle would put it. 🙂

I need God’s grace to remind me continuously that I’m dealing with my child more than he is my student. And I guess this is something that every homeschooling mom struggles with, balancing our parent-teacher side. Every day I am learning to use his preferences as my teaching springboard to communicate with him more effectively. 🙂

WP_20150325_10_11_19_ProAlso, I have to keep reminding myself that he’s only four and to stick to what he needs to know at this age. I think it’s something that all newbie parents should keep into perspective—to never rush their kids, to enjoy every age and every stage. Because they really do grow up really fast. But that doesn’t mean I will limit him. I also have to be sensitive and follow where he wants to progress faster and at the same time rein him in if we’re going too fast so that he won’t get confused. 🙂

What really matters

I’m not an expert in parenting. I’ve been at it for only four years. And every time Timmy gets a year older, it’s a whole new ball game for me. Like when he turned four, I was so excited to know and discover with him what it’s like to be at that age again! 🙂 All this time God has been repeatedly teaching me to be gentle and patient with my child; to listen to his thoughts and stories; to ride on his interests and leverage it for learning; to spend quality time with him; and above all, to draw Timmy closer to Him.

20150516_161135I didn’t become a parent to raise a genius. There’s much more to parenting than teaching academic lessons. The values and life skills our children need to learn outweigh the need to master the 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). They will learn those things eventually because they have to. But character building is a different story. We need to be more intentional on this one because they NEED this more than academics when they face the world on their own.

No one would care how smart your child is if he’s such a pain to work with. No one would bother to listen to him if he’s full of himself. He may be smart and talented in many ways but if all he wants is to get his way then no one would follow him. Companies now even value EQ more than IQ because anything can be learned these days. The way you deal with people and your overall work ethics are given more weight than head knowledge.

20130312_211104A teachable student can only come from a teachable heart. If my son doesn’t learn about obedience and respect first then he won’t listen to me. There are values that he needs to develop before he could even comprehend fractions or geography. He needs to learn patience, perseverance, hard work, honesty, humility, and more to help him not just with his academics but with real life challenges as well. Life skills are learned more easily when they have the foundational values first.

Like for example, cleaning up his toys took repetitive obedience before Timmy got used to it. You earn cooperation by doing things together like washing the dishes. It sure takes time and a lot of wasted water and dishwashing soap but seeing my son beam with pride makes it all worth it. Last night as he went down his chair (because he can’t reach the sink yet) he said, “Thank you for helping me wash the dishes!” It was as if he owned the chore and I was just there to help him! 🙂

Those little things help in easy transition to learning like, “Let’s read together! It’s writing time! Let’s count together!” Because you get to him to cooperate and participate on non-academic things, getting him on board during study time becomes much easier. 🙂 There’s so much more that our kids need to learn. Even us adults learn something new every day. So why stress out on getting everything right the first time or being ahead of everybody else?

20150517_094834At the end of the day, it’s never really about whose kid is advanced where. It isn’t about how many degrees my son will finish or how many awards he will get. I would rather measure his success by how many lives he will touch by his kindness and how many will follow his lead because of his integrity. It isn’t about finishing first all the time but about finishing well in life. 🙂

I remember my dad would always say about drivers overtaking, “Okay lang yan, sabay sabay din tayo sa dulo ng stoplight. (That’s okay, we’ll all meet at the stoplight anyway.)” Same goes with being advanced. Our kids will all get there. They will all become adults and converse like adults. But the question is, will they become responsible adults? Will they be part of a God-fearing generation who will walk with integrity? Will they be compassionate and kind?

20150516_161822While it may be great to have an “advanced child” let’s not forget to advance them on the things that matter. Let’s give them a head start on values and character building because those are the foundational life skills they need that will help them thrive in the real world. 🙂 I’m still learning and growing in these areas up to now, which is why I recognize that my son still has a long way to go. And that’s the beauty of parenting right there, you grow and learn together—and it never stops. 🙂

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Countdown to Half a Decade

Today marks our fifth wedding anniversary. I really can’t believe five years went by just like that! 🙂 Half a decade, WOW. It may seem like a short period for some but for me it’s a huge achievement—a milestone that only God can accomplish. 🙂 Our marriage is not the fairy tale type. It’s more of reality TV. We have our good days and bad ones. It has been a journey of ups and downs, strengthened by steps and leaps of faith.

As I am doing this countdown, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how much Omar and I have grown both individually and as a couple. I think the past five years we’ve had is equivalent to ten years’ worth of highs and lows for the average couple. But if I were to give a ratio to how it has been so far, I can say it’s 90% good and 10% tough but still not that bad. 🙂

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I say that not because we’re perfect people but because God has proven Himself faithful all throughout our marriage. 🙂 We wouldn’t be where we are today—stronger than ever—if not for His grace. He allowed us to love, accept, forgive, and appreciate each other while keeping the “kilig” (spark) factor. 🙂 I still find myself telling my husband, “Shucks, hon. Ang pogi mo naman.” (You’re handsome.) Haha!

Honey, I’m sure you’re reading this. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! 🙂 For a stats junkie, I’m sure you’d appreciate an overview of our marriage in numbers. Haha! Here’s where we’re at right now. Spoiler alert! It’s been quite an adventure. 🙂

5 YEARS

In our five years of marriage, we have made countless decisions. From something trivial like what we’ll have for lunch to big ones like should we get a yaya (nanny) or not, we try our best to be a team. We only had roughly seven months of being alone together but during that time I was already pregnant with our honeymoon baby. 🙂 We try to make up for that by having date nights as much as we can. We set aside time to watch our favorite TV series and basketball games. And we have our annual year in review every New Year’s Eve. 🙂 I look forward to more of these with you in the coming years!

20140223_2038514 JOBS

When we got married I was a consultant for a bookstore chain and you were teaching at a Christian school. So that’s two different jobs. A couple of years later, I left my consultancy job to become a full-time, home-based copywriter. You also decided to quit teaching and become a home-based content writer—that’s two new jobs for us. At first it was tough because being a freelancer means we’re mainly dependent on projects. But by God’s grace, the shifting tides are over and He has provided us with long-term clients and employers and we are still working with them. 🙂 Yay!

Some may think that your job is not ideal for raising a family. Being in the corporate world, climbing the corporate ladder, and having an 8-to-5 job have been society’s model of how a husband should provide. Good thing God’s ways are different. He didn’t provide on-the-job specifics. 🙂 God’s command to husbands is to love his wife as Christ loved His church (Ephesians 5:25). YOU’RE DOING THAT AND MORE. 🙂 Your home-based job gives you the opportunity to be with me and Timmy. You’ve been able to provide for us and I’ve never seen you happier, too! You write about your passions for a living and that’s pretty awesome.

Will we ever go back to the daily grind of the 8-to-5 workforce? Probably not. 🙂 I wouldn’t trade the time flexibility and stress-free work environment we have. The opportunity to raise Timmy with both of us around every day is also a privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted. We may have changed career paths over the past five years but looking back, it’s all been worth it. 🙂

20130908_1721033 HOUSES

From the time we got married, it was a no-brainer that we’ll have our own place and we did (house #1)! Those first two years felt like we’re just playing around. Haha! Then we decided that I’ll not continue with my consultancy job anymore and you lost your big client around the same time. We had no choice but to move out. Since your parents were in Canada that time, we moved to their place first (house #2) and I marked on my imaginary calendar that we’ll move out when they come back or after Christmas so we can spend the holidays there. That didn’t go as planned and we ended up staying there for a year.

I’m so blessed to have kind and loving in-laws who made our stay as comfortable as they can. 🙂 I only have the best words for them! But our tenure there I think was more for me. God kept me waiting until I’ve learned all the lessons and character-building I needed before providing the means for us to move. Last October we found an apartment (house #3) that’s perfect for us! It’s also at a very strategic location (behind a mall). 🙂 Are we staying here for good? Probably not. We don’t know when the next house will be or if it will be the one we’ll own but I’m glad that we’re content where we are. 🙂 I know that when we’re ready, God will give it to us. 🙂

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2 IMPERFECT PEOPLE

This perfectly describes who we are. We entered into this marriage knowing that we’re two imperfect people that will be living under one roof with lots of quirks which we’ll either love or hate. Haha! Just like any couple, we have disagreements, miscommunications, and a million shortcomings in between. My forgetfulness, being accident-prone (bumping here, getting wounded there—everything!), and being disorganized is something you need to put up with forever. But believe me when I say that I’m trying my best to improve on these areas. Seriously! I’m just so grateful that you’re very patient and gracious with me. 🙂

You have your own set of things-I-need-to-tolerate, too. Haha! And I’m learning to be loving and patient about it as well. 🙂 One of the things I really love about you is that I can talk to you even if we’re not agreeing on something. You have NEVER raised your voice at me. You sometimes speak loud unintentionally but not because you’re mad or anything. I think it will never go away especially since you’ve been a teacher for a long time and you’re used to speaking to an audience. Haha! You’re a master of gentle rebukes, hon. 🙂 And you know that it’s the most loving way to deal with my faults. 🙂
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1 GOD (AND 1 BABY!)

God has already written our love story even before we were born (and I mean we were born almost 9 years apart). 🙂 He has already seen how we’ll navigate through our married life. He has planned everything! Part of that plan is being blessed with a baby boy named Timothy. 🙂 Our little guy has been a source of joy! He’s a firecracker, full of energy and life. 🙂 We couldn’t be more grateful for this privilege of not only being husband and wife but also being PARENTS. We didn’t even expect it because of my condition (Lupus). But God graciously gave us Timmy despite all my health constraints. 🙂

Every day Timmy never fails to make us laugh. He has all these antics, random acts of sweetness, and crazy one-liners. 🙂 He’s a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness—a reminder that God can truly turn something GREAT out of a bad circumstance (i.e. a complicated pregnancy and premature delivery). Now we have a little team! Are we going to add more? We’re still unsure. It’s too risky. Having one is more than enough. 🙂 Maybe we can have pets? Haha! I don’t know. For now, we’ll just focus on being good stewards of the life God has entrusted to us. 🙂

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What a countdown! You know what? It got me thinking, like if we reach 10 years that would be what 10 houses? 9 kids? 8 jobs? Maybe 7 cars? Haha! Whatever it is I know that it will be an adventure worth taking with you. 🙂 HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONEY! Thank you for being the spiritual leader that you are. 🙂 Thank you for loving me the way Christ does. Thank you for being a spectacular dad to Timmy. Thank you for being a ninja husband who can do almost anything! You are my smart prince charming, ultra powerful super hero, and lifetime MVP. 🙂 I LOVE YOU! 🙂

The Fight We’ve Always Wanted Wasn’t The Fight We Expected

I watched the fight multitasking. I was clutching a pillow, scrolling through Twitter, and hugging my 4-year-old son who got surprised every time the men in the room shouted when Manny landed a punch. Every round was stressful and nerve-wracking. Before the fight, we prayed for Manny Pacquiao to win. We rallied for him in social media. As a nation, we were so pumped up to watch him defeat Floyd Mayweather. But when the fight started, we all knew that it would go down to the wire. And it did!

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

The Fight of the Century reached 12 rounds and when it ended I felt blah. See, I can’t even describe it properly. Both fighters fought well but it fell so short that underwhelming is even an understatement in my opinion. This match was so hyped that it raised the expectations so high that Manny and Floyd couldn’t reach it. Here’s why:

We wanted blood and bruises, we got scrape-free faces

Everybody expected a dog fight. Fans of both parties wanted their opponents to be photographed with fifty shades of black and blue. But no, both fighters looked like they just came from a sparring practice. There were no stitches or blood. I’m not a boxing expert but based on what I saw, the flow and dynamics of the fight didn’t dictate such an outcome. One was calculating and the other was trying to catch a slippery opponent. If you have one party dodging a lot, you simply can’t expect a slug fest. And for most of us, it was a major letdown.

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted more punches, we got more hugs

And a million memes to go along with that. As Pacquiao fans, we wanted him to be more aggressive. We wanted Mayweather to stop hugging our hero. But from Manny’s point of view, he punched enough. He was also cautious because he didn’t want to get knocked out. Mayweather is a strategist and for Manny to go all out and attack him would be careless and stupid. So if he said he did his best then let’s take his word for it. I believe Manny knew what he was doing. He is an experienced fighter and a champ. As for the hugs? I can only say the same thing. Money knew what he was doing, it was part of his strategy, and yes, it made him look like Olaf but at the end of the day, he won within the rules of the game.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted Manny to win, we got Money declared as champ

I don’t know with you but when the final bell rang, I only had one thing in mind—Money won, Manny lost. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Sure Floyd danced the night away but he threw and landed more punches. And sometimes that’s all you need to see. Was he the better fighter? That’s for the real experts to decide. From what I saw, he looked scared at some point. His father was even nervous to the point of asking his son, “What’s wrong with you?” But that didn’t stop him from sticking to the plan. Manny did his best to get in but I think he was also trying his best to avoid a counterpunch that will knock the lights out of him. I think he made the most of the openings he saw. Freddie Roach also told him, “Don’t walk right into it.” And he was wise enough not to.

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; Posted in Mashable.com

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

For both fighters it was a balancing act all the way. No one went all in, not in the fans’ standards anyway. It was a battle of who outsmarts who. I’m a Manny Pacquiao fan but I wouldn’t even say that it was a close fight. From a literal stand point, Money was too far most of the time. Too far to be reached, too many hugs, too many elbows, too many dirty plays. But despite all that, I also saw Money landed more punches than Manny. And I’m not a boxing expert; I’m a stay-at-home, full-time wife and mom. I have 20/20 vision and I’m not delusional. It sucks to even say this but Money won because he did what he had to. Not in the way I like it but he found a way to win within the rules and in any game that’s all that matters.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Manny looked more careful to me but I’d like to think that he also stuck to his game plan. He didn’t go there careless and brash. He, too, was calculating albeit more aggressive. Maybe he should’ve done more but maybe doing more would’ve gotten him KO’d, too. So I’m with Manny when he said he really did his best but it wasn’t good enough.

The fight we’ve always wanted is over. It didn’t meet our expectations but at least we finally saw it. It reached 12 rounds with both fighters sizing each other up to the very end. It was a good fight but not a great one. It was like a story without a climax but still worth telling. From the moment the bell rang, we had a calculated boxing match. And maybe that’s really all there is when you’re fighting an opponent who wins with that strategy. Hats off to Floyd for remaining undefeated and winning the way he best knew how.

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

And for Manny, you’re still our champion, the pride of the Philippines, the hero that brings our nation together in a way that nobody else can. We’re proud of you. My son even wants to be like you. We’re still not on the same page in terms of a boxing career, though. Haha! But on the character side, yes. 🙂 I know that when you watch the fight again you’ll see that Money won. It may be hard to see that immediately after the fight but I know you’ll come to terms with that. But I am happy that during your post fight prayer service you acknowledged that God’s ways are higher than ours and you have peace of mind. 🙂

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

This loss is nothing to be ashamed of, you fought a good fight, you made Mayweather think twice, and you escaped some nasty blows. You’ve proven to all of us time and time again how great of a fighter you are. So stand tall, champ! God has already given you the platform to show the world that He can make a world-class fighter out of nothing. And you have shown that last night. A third-world fighter in a first-world country battling a first-world boxer. We couldn’t ask for more. Thank you for fighting for our country and for God’s glory. Thank you for making us proud again. 🙂

Ikaw pa rin ang nag-iisang Pambansang Kamao ng Pilipinas. Mabuhay ka!