May 13, 2023
I'd been wanting to write this piece for a long time, but somehow never came to it...until now. If I were to best describe the parenting I received, I would have to say Emergency Parenting - I just coined that up because there's nothing out there that even comes close. What is that?
If there was an emergency in my life (I got sick, grade school enrollment, I got in a fight, etc.), my parents would drop everything and attend to my needs. Maybe not even an emergency...more accurately, if they need to be involved, they get involved and I feel that they are there for me. Nice! That didn't happen too often though. I was hardly ever in a fight, beginning grade 5 I enrolled myself, and I hardly ever got sick.
What if there's no Emergency?
Well, if there's no need for them to get involved, they are not attentive. I don't feel them. But I see them every day. During elementary days, I would leave the house while they were still asleep because the school bus would pick me up early. They were both working and would come home late. When they arrive at night, we would greet each other and that's that. They would ask the maid if we have eaten. I don't recall any more interaction. Would they ask me how my day was? or how I was feeling? Not to my knowledge. There was no storytelling, no sharing of ideas. I would do my thing and they would do their thing. I thought that was normal and all families were like that.
No One Noticed
Once, I didn't take a bath for an entire week. I must have smelled. No one noticed. I stopped brushing my teeth for over a year. My teeth got fucked. They took me to a dentist, but no one noticed I wasn't brushing my teeth anymore. There was an episode I was shitting on my pants. They didn't notice. The maid did...she had to wash my underwear.
One time, I tried to cuddle with my Mom. I guess I was looking for affection. She looked at me weird and said I was too old for that. It was embarrassing.
The Love Letters
This has nothing to do with emergency parenting, but when they found out where I was hiding my love letters, they read all of them - not asking if I approve or not. As a son living under their roof, I had no right whatsoever. When my Dad decided to cook my pet, I could not protest.
I vividly recall and cherish this episode on a Sunday afternoon when my Mom took the time to tutor me. We spent a few hours together. She taught me how to spell 'grocery' among other things. The following day, I was so sharp in school impressing everyone how much I knew. I cannot recall of any other tutoring episode I had with my Mom. Perhaps that was the one and only time.
Am I doing a hit-piece on them? Hell, no! Then what's my point in writing this? I don't know. I just feel like reflecting on it. Knowing what I know now, maybe I wish they were a little more involved...a little more curious about what was happening to me. Maybe asked me what my day was like.
Then I would have been forthcoming about things that bothered me...or things I wanted to share, or things I thought were normal but egregious. How?
Well, I could have told them that for years, as a bus rider when I was still studying in Letran, I would stand up the rest of the long way 'til we got to the school - the bus was overfull. The school should not have allowed that. I didn't know any better that time.
I could have told them that every Monday, my Religion teacher would make me stand at the back of the room for not attending Sunday school - this went on for 2 years. I dreaded Mondays.
I could have told them that one night, I rode on the bumper of a public bus during a storm, just to be able to get back home.
When I got married, I didn't tell them until a week after.
I don't think they ever stepped foot at the University of the Philippines where I finished my BSBA degree in 4 years flat - I took care of all my school needs, hardly ever bothering them for anything. As my Dad once quipped, before he knew it, I was already out of school.
I have one takeaway from all this emergency parenting - it taught me how to be independent - fiercely independent. I always felt that I was on my own. It served me well.
For nearly 2 decades, I survived life on the open road within Southeast Asia with hardly any money, no stable source of income, no property and not knowing anyone. I survived on wit, charm, and knowhow.
When I thought I would die after a failed cliff dive, I didn't bother to call any member of my family. I just wanted to find a cave where I could heal myself or not come out at all.
It's funny. I'm now a senior citizen talking about affection I didn't get when I was a toddler or when I was an impressionable youngster. I wish I could say I didn't come out too bad, but a few people would disagree. Ha-ha, that's life.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
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