Finding out I was pregnant for the seventh time in my late 30s sent me to a panic. How can a one-room house crammed full of growing children accommodate a new baby? How will my no longer pliant and lithe body parts carry the bundle and push it out nine months later?
It wasn’t really a difficult pregnancy, but I sulked all through it, my mind heavy too with worry.
The baby was weeks overdue and had to be induced. Hours after induction, the pain was excruciating. It spilled over, sounded off. The nurses were annoyed at my noisy laboring. One of them asked me how many children I’ve had. Tse! How can someone who has mothered six be so complaining? At one point, I asked for a caesarian section. As I was being prepared for surgery, the baby perversely came out. (A prelude of things to come?!)
She was born on the seventh day of the seventh month, the seventh of seven children, at 10:07 p.m., weighing seven pounds flat. When she went to grade school, she kept getting Class No. 7
I laughed when I saw Bonch for the first time. She was already dimpling prettily and impishly.
She fulfilled the promise of beauty. I call her my best-looking product, the most wide-eyed in a family of chinita and chinitos. Good skin, good shape in spite of baby fat she can not seem to shed, a button nose that gradually sharpened into an almost aquiline shape.
Impish? Bratty is the word. It could not be helped. She had an excess of attention which seemed to annoy her. The more she got annoyed, the more she drove people nuts.
Her dad and four kuyas adored her. Kuya Ariel especially, who spoiled her silly. When he asked for a kiss, she would kiss the pillow, kiss the bed, kiss the teddy bear, kiss me, kiss her Ate, kiss the other Kuyas except the Kuya asking to be kissed.
She was inventive as a child. She imagined secret friends and invented names for them. Morfan was one. Who knows that he didn’t really exist? A guardian angel or spirit guide and friend.
In grade school, she began to write poems. Before she graduated, a short story she wrote about Muning, our cat, won both for her and her school P15 thousand and a trophy each. In high school, she won other writing medals and wrote scripts that were mounted into plays. She broke into print in the Inquirer’s Young Blood before she graduated.
She can compose songs, though she can’t read music, and sing them too. But I could never cajole her to sing in parties. In college, however, she sang at gigs the first of which we all excitingly attended. The next ones were no longer announced to us. The brat.
The best thing about her is her persistence. It is also the worst.
Whatever she sets her mind to do she does through grit, hard work, and sheer kulit power.
When she set her sights on being a softball player in high school, she overcame big odds – a very poor vision, faulty batting, flat feet. She made it to the team, practicing daily, coached and inspired by her Ate.
In kindergarten at St. Paul, where most of her classmates were English-speaking, she confronted a teacher after the first few weeks of school: "Miss, hindi lahat kami dito Amerikano, pwede po kayong mag-Tagalog?" The teacher apologized. When the teacher relapsed, Bonch reminded her from time to time.
When she got back test results, she would question points earned in essay items. She deserved 5 instead of 3 points, 10 instead of 8, she argued. Almost invariably she got what she fought for. "Sige na nga, 100 ka na, matigil ka lang," one said in exasperation.
In college, she almost didn’t make it to the cut-off in Diliman but doggedly took her turn in the waiting list. She went on to graduate magna cum laude and win “best thesis” in the form of a 15-minute film.
After a few false starts, she now holds the job she always wanted to have – executive production in a television company. She’s spoken for but insists marriage is still years away.
Today Bonch turns 25.
She’s no longer so bratty. She is determined to be kinder, gentler, more considerate of others, less selfish, less outspoken. She succeeds sometimes. When she does not, she says sorry – sometimes.
She has shed tears in her efforts to shed some of the (brutal) frankness and brusqueness away.
She still doesn’t like kissing her Kuya but she hugs him and sometimes brings him his fave floss bread when she gets her sueldo.
Best of all for me, she would still crawl into my bed at night and say: Nunat twidit wawoo.
1) Nunat, twidit wawoo is her baby talk for goodnight, sweet dreams, love you.
2)To my blog berks and other readers, kindly bear with me as I make exaggerated papuri to my children. I have decided that before I depart for other climes, I should write something for each of them to keep in his/her heart. Chos! And if I sound so incredible, remember the piece is written by a mom wearing love-misted glasses.
3) Bonch is how I call her, for bunso (youngest child).