Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No more talismans for daughter

She was born after I have given up on ever fussing over hair clips and ribbons and laces and Hello Kitties -- just as I was beginning to believe myself when I answer those who marveled over the five successive boys I had: “I don’t mind not having a daughter.”
As it turned out she didn’t care for ribbons and girly stuff. After she turned four, I could no longer make her wear the lacy, patchy – and pricey -- St. Patrick dresses I paid through my teeth for. From that time on, it was tees and shorts and rubber shoes and a Ringo Starr hairdo that didn't require hair clips.
She was to be my Jennifer – a name I burned with, pregnancy after pregnancy, but which had to be set aside again and again because the stork that delivered babies to me seemed to specialize in boys only. But one look at the baby girl that finally came told me she was NOT Jennifer. She looked marvelous and smart and pretty, but, no, she wouldn’t have answered to Jennifer. Fortunately, my husband, previously unconcerned over baby names, was itching to name her and I was just happy to let him. So he named her after what he insisted was the Greek goddess of quickness. (But he was wrong: my later research revealed the name was rooted on a Greek word meaning truth or she who tells the truth.)
Funny, when my boys were just babies and toddlers, all of them were invariably mistaken for girls. Now, that the much awaited finally came, people thought I was being funny when I would insist that the ball-dribbling, yoyo-swinging, mop-haired child was a girl.
I wasn’t too alarmed when she turned out to be more adept at basketball than all her four kuya. She also doted on Barbies and tea sets. She was very good at sewing, drawing, and cooking. Most of all, she was marshamallow inside – easy to bully and frighten and cry.
She cried when she was passed over in the grade school intramural try-outs in relay. I quickly wrote a letter which began: “Dear Miss Cruz, do you want to make a little girl happy?” and the next day, she boasted she had begun joining relay practice.
She came home from class in tears from big-time teasing when their picture-taking session was rained out and the teacher demanded “sino ang may balat sa puwet?” and one hand came up. Guess whose? She was perplexed the whole class rolled on the floor laughing.
Ruffians in school called her names, drawing tears. When the bullying went on unabated, I taught her how to name-call back.
The dark scared her so much I brought home all sorts of medallions and scapulars and vested it with powers to shoo away forces of darkness.
As the years passed, she got over her fears and being bullied, though she still cried easily.
From being a pasang-awa in the relay team, she worked on her athletic prowess to become captain of the high school softball varsity team and its most valuable player.
From being bullied, she became class comic and the life of every gathering with her witty retorts and quick puns.
I no longer had to calm her fears. She eased mine.
Not too long ago, I was brooding over slights (real and imagined) and problems (present and to come). She noticed I was upset, sat opposite me and said: “Hang loose, mommy. Look at me, I am always happy.” “Really, “ I shot back: “Are you happy when you get tres and cinco in your class cards?” “Well, she laughed, “I would be down for a while but not for long.” She moved closer to hold my hand and perhaps by some osmotic process I felt lighter and, yes, almost happy.
She is the one who, when I fretted over a few thousand pesos filched from my wallet, told me to forget it since it’s only money. The one who would tease me to go, get a life. The one who when I insisted she went to church asked me if God wouldn’t have preferred it if she helped someone hard up or sick or unhappy. The one who all her siblings describe as "masarap maging kapatid."
Today, she is a doctor. Still the softest, most kind hearted person I know. I told her once she was my best product.
But …
Today, too, she faces a crisis in her life –the biggest she has encountered thus far. Some of the long-ago fears must have come back for she admits she is paralyzed with indecision. Some of my remarks thrown her way reduced her to tears.
I have become paralyzed too.
I can no longer bring her talismans vested with fictitious power. I can no longer write “Dear Miss Cruz” letters that will melt teacher’s heart. I can no longer teach her how to fight back so bullies would stop bullying.
I can only wish she remembers where she misplaced her gift of happiness and retrieve it and get it back to work – pronto.
I can only hover at the edges and give advice when and only when I am asked and then pray I say the right things rather than impulsive ones TRIGGERED BY MY OWN FEARS.
I can only pray for wisdom and guidance for her and for me -- which is just about the only thing I can do with some degree of proficiency these days.
And yes, I can only remind her she is my best product.

Photo: “Daughter and Mother” by Eden, Janine and Jim, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved


pamatayhomesick said...

Very touchy story...annamanila.
Sometimes we feel that we lose our magic power, not literally...but the power of God is always by our side.

Leah said...

whatever the crisis is, malalagpassan nya yan. Akala mo lang, wala ng talisman...but you always hold it there , in your heart to guide the ones you love.

Take care Anna...miss you

Gypsy said...

Your love for her simply oozes. She is blessed to have you as mom. :) What a great welcome back prose for me to read! :)

Yep, am back blogging and (hopefully) I have seen the error of my negligent ways. Hehe.

Forever59er said...

Just would like you to know -- those who feel concerned -- okay na si doter. Thanks! - anna

blue butterfly said...

Touching piece...I was misty-eyed after reading. Daughters are really treasures...thanks for sharing.

julie said...

Awww... whatever it is, I know she would be able to tackle with courage and a smile knowing she made the right decision.

We wish you all well. ((hugs))

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