Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Loosening the Leash

Doing the Parental Balancing Act

We love our children. There is no question about that. We do our best to ensure their safety and to keep them away from all harm.

But this question is begging to be asked: when does care and caution become too much? and when is there too little?

I do not have the faintest idea.

I wish that there is a school for parents where quick answers could be had.

I wish that there are tried and tested formulae for raising our children.

The best we could do, I guess, is play everything by ear, seek the advise of those who have traveled the same road before, trust our instincts, and pray, pray, pray …

Just like any other parent, my life revolves around my child. I look after her welfare, plan for her future, keep her safe from danger. To do the latter, my instinct is to hold on tightly, keep her close, and steer her away from anything that is remotely threatening.

But then again, I have to ask: when does it become too much? At what point will my love start to smother my child and stifle her spirit and zest for life?

By wanting to keep her out of harm’s way, am I instead preventing her from living life as it should be lived? at whatever stage she may be at the moment?

But what if she wanted to try something risky? Will I let her do it simply because I want her to get a full taste of life? What if by doing so, I am instead allowing my precious child to be exposed to unnecessary risks?

I am constantly being confronted by this dilemma.

How can I strike a careful balance?

How far should I let go while still keeping her close?

During the Buglasan Festival, I allowed her some slack. Although feeling faint as I watched her climb up the ladder to try the Swing for Life, my heart swelled with pride. She showed me that she has courage. My beloved whirlwind is not scared of the unknown and is willing to take on anything new with complete self-assurance and confidence.

Never once did she looked back to her mother ... never did she showed any need for my encouragement. All that she needed to know was that it was ok with Mama ... and off she went!!!

This is kind of sad, but on the other hand, with the qualities that she displayed, I am confident that my baby can take on whatever life will throw at her with a stride.

Abby loved the swing and could not get enough of it. Am I happy for her? Absolutely!

Am I still scared? I will always fear for her.

But all I could do really is place my complete faith in God and trust that He is always sending His angels to keep my baby safe.

After all, Abby does have a sister in heaven, doesn’t she? And with her own personal angel watching over her, what could go wrong?

Maia, please look after your Ate. Mama is loosening the leash ... a bit!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dressing Up for Trick or Treat!

The children of Southdale look forward to Trick or Treat Day!

Abby was no exception, of course! Soon after trick or treat ended last year, she started planning what she wanted to be the following year - and spent the next 12 months jumping from one idea to another - princess, vampiress, doctor, she-devil, fairy, princess again, scientist, zombie, ballerina, witch, princess ... got the idea?

Most of the parents were as excited as their children and actually took the time to buy them fabulous (not to mention, expensive!) costumes. Almost all preschool parents dove head-first with enthusiasm, particularly the young or the first-time moms and dads.

But there were also those (including me) whose excitement was tempered with dread over the inevitable EXPENSES! But still excited, kind of!

It seems that the older their children got, or the more children they have, the less enthusiastic some parents became. Whatever . . .

Since Abby could not decide what she wanted to be ... and since I was unwilling to spend money on costume that would be discarded soon after anyway ... I just borrowed Carla's old costume from Chedette - a Greek Goddess' gown - and as you can see from Abby's pose, she's having a blast dressing up ... I told her she was Hera, the queen of the gods of Mt. Olympus! Another parent teased me that she was Aphrodite - Goddess of Love - I said no no no! My baby's still too young ... don't you give her those ideas!

Abby loved the idea of being the queen. She told everyone that she was a GODDESS QUEEN! and that as such, she was the most powerful of all, even more powerful than the vampires and witches!

At least I got through the day with only the euphorbia flowers on her head as biggest casualties. Thanks to Chedette, my wallet got spared!

That's Abby with Nicole (in black attire) and Dom (as pirate).

Dom is Abby's ex-best friend. They recently had an amicable agreement not to be best friends anymore! They've been classmates since they were three years old and have been together for almost four years now. Both girls have strong personalities and very assertive with their ideas. No wonder they've been arguing since Day 1 - although they still managed to call each other best friends, until now. I hope they'll fix their differences eventually. As I recall, their teacher used to call them best friends-worst enemies! At least, they are still calling each other on the phone!

The Wizardess is Carla. She won the Best Costume Award for Lower School children.

The entire Grade One class: Matt-Matt as Tomcat, Nicole, Dom, Abby, Count "Raffy" Dracula, and Gabby the Ninja!

This time with Jeina as the Corpse Bride. This girl knows how to project! She got the Best Costume award for Middle School.

I wonder who gets the most fun whenever parents would dress up their children?

The children themselves?

How about the parents who went around competing for the best positions while toting cameras and videocams - with hearts gushing pure pride and joy?

We were all winners, no doubt about that. But the real winners were the entrepreneurs who made money from events such as this one.

By the way, my wallet wasn't really totally spared. I still had to spend for the treats that we gave around.

But who cares? We all had fun. And that's what really matters.

For Pau

My joy, more precious than my life itself. The little one is Powpee. She makes my heart happy too!

Hi Pau,

Thank you so much for sharing "The Secret" with me. I will try to look it up, but I am not very optimistic. I'm only on dial-up. I tried viewing videos before but it kept becoming hanged (is that the right term?). Anyways, I will still have a look-see.

I've been to your blog and read about ML. Hey, I hope you won't mind my taking the liberty to comment that ML is a treacherous friend. You are better off without this "friend".

There is always that possibility that the benefits it brings will turn against you later on. I hope that you will never get to that point Pau, but whether you like it or not, the risks are always present.

Both my parents are bosom bodies of ML too and now, they are paying for that friendship:(

I wish that you won't allow yourself to despair too much, but I guess that you have too much of that artist's soul within you - you experience life at a certain pace and level and with an intensity that most of us boring individuals can only marvel at.

I am your typical goat - much too level-headed and pragmatic (in other words - boring) and too shallow to be ever capable of sinking to the depths or rising to the heights that I know you are accustomed to.

If the amusement park can be equated with how we live our lives, you take the crazy roller coaster ride while I can be found in the placid lake calmly rowing my sturdy little boat.

Of course I have my own depths that to me are already the deepest of the deep, but that won't compare to how you perceive your own depths!

What you said about the universe conspiring in our behalf? I believe that too.

For whatever it's worth, I'd like to share some of my thoughts and convictions with you - I believe that we have a God and that He has a grand scheme for each and all of us. We are like pieces of a puzzle and each of our lives are designed to fit into that puzzle to complete that grand plan.

In the same way, each little event in our lives lead to another - there is a reason for everything, a purpose that has to be fulfilled.

But this is where I become confused. Do we have a choice in all these? I hope so. After all, God did give us free will.

I'd like to believe that we have choices as to which paths we'd take, rather than traverse one that has already been laid for us, regardless of whether we like it or not.

So where does the grand plan fit in this? I am not sure but maybe, just maybe, that plan, purpose, or reason is just up ahead - but do we reach it or not? Maybe it would all depend on the choices we make - if we choose to take a path that leads us away from it, God will lay out more choices for us to make, hoping that in the end - we would make that choice that will finally lead us where He desires us to be.

I hope that you will finally find that one thing that will keep your life in track Pau.

For me, it is easy - but of course, we know that nothing ever applies to everyone - but my family, my husband and most especially my daughter Abby, keep me going and they give me great joy! :)

I hope that you will find yours too.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Little of Me in Everyone

I am your archetypal housewife ... notably well fed... queen of my home, at my most element in my kitchen! Nothing much ever takes place in my life, where the same routine happens day after day.

But since I had a miscarriage, changes started coming. Among these was the opportunity to write a column from the perspective of a homemaker!

This was totally unexpected! This honor is usually open only to certified writers, celebrated achievers, or distinguished members of society. For an unknown homemaker to contemplate joining this rank, much less actually do it, was very daunting, and believe me, it took a lot of false bravado on my part.

I took courage from the confidence given by Alex and Irma Faith Pal, and from the support and encouragement of one very special lady, Muffet Villegas Dolar. She was with me from the beginning and through her, I finally believed that I could pull this off.

Until now, I still toy with the idea of this being part of God's grand plan for me. Maybe, He wants me to do something else with my life, something more than what I am now, a simple housewife and mother...

Trying to comprehend the ways of the Lord can be mind-boggling! Try looking at it from my perspective:

"Alright, Lord, so You sent trials to get me out of my little world. You opened doors for me. Maybe You want me to do something more? Like writing a column? Sure, no problem ... but a column about wives and mothers? ... what??? I thought I was supposed to do something bigger than what I am now? And that "bigger" thingy is writing about exactly who and what I am now...? This is really confusing.”

Those were my exact sentiments when I started this column! If not for the fact that I was already on the floor when Irma and I were talking, I would have fallen off my seat when she came up with this idea! “What??? What am I going to write about?” I told her the homemaker’s world is very small … children, school, groceries, bills … what else is there?

In fact, when I told my husband that I would not be writing anymore, and before I could explain that MetroPost was going to stop circulating, he interrupted by saying, “Why? Have you ran out of topics already?”

But I soon discovered that there’s so much to write about and it’s very gratifying having friends and acquaintances come up to me, and tell me that they follow my column or that they could identify with my sentiments.

I realized that it’s probably because I’m the essential woman, wife and mother. There is a little of me in every reader out there.

When I wrote about my failure to shed my fats, women empathized because most of us share this problem! When I wrote about my social naiveté, hey, we've all had embarrassing moments, right? Or when I lamented about how I missed my husband… well, people do miss their spouses every now and then, don't they?

But more than anything else, I write about what is closest and dearest to our hearts: family, and most especially, our children. I write about our fears for their safety, or our dreams and aspirations for their future. And what mother or father could not identify with that?

Indeed, the wife and mother’s world is small, but in its smallness, it encompasses the world, for it holds at its center the reason why mankind has progressed this far – and it's those invisible bonds that hold us and our families together.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Battle with the Bulge

That's Chedette - CAUGHT IN THE ACT! As crazy as I am over sweets! (I hope that she will forgive me for posting this picture!)

My friends Maru and Chedette with Gabby and Guia during our PLAY/EAT DATE where the children played and the mothers ate!

Eons ago, I had a 25-inch waistline and a head-turning coca-cola body!

Nowadays, I still managed to maintain that "coca-cola" body!

Sadly though, it’s now coke in cans!

I can always blame motherhood for that. After all, I was in full bedrest during my entire pregnancy. And what does one do if one has to stay in bed all the time for nine months? Eat, sleep, watch TV, eat, sleep … (and don't forget the time-worn, ever-effective excuse ... "I am eating for two now ...")

Or I can blame my having Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome. It is a condition of infertility and women with PCOS are typically “well-rounded”.

But the blame really lies on me alone and my enthusiasm for food and sweets! I tried to fight by sticking mostly to fish and vegetables and not keeping anything remotely palatable at home. Being on a seefood (when-I-see-food-I-eat) diet, I thought that keeping away the temptations would help. But I still ballooned to 160 pounds even with only occasional binging during parties and fiestas.

Funny how we never seem to notice how BIG we’ve really become! Of course, we know that we’ve gained weight or have gotten fat, but we never seem to realize how fat we have become until we see our pictures! It always comes as a shock to me – “am I really that big already?”

I did the South Beach Diet once and actually lost 15 pounds! But it’s a very difficult diet to stick to, particularly for somebody with an ongoing love affair with desserts!

I also tried the pastrami diet with my cake-eating soulmate, Chedette! It was absolutely crazy! We were supposed to eat nothing except one very thin slice of pastrami, sandwiched by two slices of cereal bread for lunch and dinner. I didn’t last long.

I will never forget becoming bathed in cold sweat as I trembled from hunger, or how I combated my hunger pangs by drowning myself with coffee! Oh! how we suffered! But we really suffered for nothing as we succumbed to almost every temptation that came our way. We were too weak to say no. It was hilarious how we used to text each other, starting with … “forgive me for I have sinned …”

I realized the more we deprived ourselves of the food we love, the more intense our cravings became. Whenever we’d go on a diet, we seem to think of nothing else except food!

Chedette and I often wondered at how Maru (who is a Muslim) could bear not to have any food or drink FROM SUNRISE UP TO SUNDOWN – FOR 30 DAYS during Ramadan! One time, we jokingly told Maru and we could never convert to Islam, not because we have anything against this faith – but simply because … yes, you guessed it!!! --- Ramadan.

We’d both make very miserable Muslim girls … and as our imagination got worked up, we thought of how we’d be discovered – caught in the act of cheating – while eating under the bed during Ramadan – and eating “humba” at that!

We also tried the Carbo Lovers' Diet. It is very simple and easy to stick to. We have 3 full meals each day, right? Well, we can choose any 2 meals where we eat according to the principles of the South Beach Diet. The third meal is to be our "reward meal", where, for one hour from the time we start the meal, we can eat absolutely anything and everything under the sun!

This is a great idea and another friend Maru swore that it really works! The beauty here is that we are not deprived of our favorites. We have that one meal each day to look forward to, where for instance, that ice cream that we have been craving for, could finally be had!

Another beauty is that the Carbo Lovers' Diet is very flexible! What if you were invited to this feast that you simply must go to - BUT, it's for dinner!! and your reward meal is lunch!!! No problem ... you can switch for that day ... do the South Beach during lunchtime, and reward yourself by binging at dinnertime! But remember -- one hour only. (There is an explanation for this but it is too technical and complicated for me to narrate here.)

I was happy with this diet and I think I can stick to this and actually make it my lifestyle. However, I realized that as far I was concerned, this is good only for maintaining my desired weight once I have reached it, but not while I still want to keep losing more.

So I decided to abandon it momentarily, aim for my goal, and once it is reached, resume the Carbo Lovers' (or is it Addicts') Diet.

Presently, Chedette and I are struggling with Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (again!). We are actually doing the cha-cha, where we stayed good girls for one week and lose about 5 pounds, let go of all control the following week, then struggle back the next!

I suppose it is more difficult for working moms who have to contend with all the temptations in their workplaces, from vendors lugging goodies along to officemates bringing fiesta leftovers!

At least, stay-at-home moms like Chedette and I can choose to bar yummy food from our homes. The operative word though is “choose”, because weak-willed as we are, we easily yield to our cravings, throw our resolves into the wind, and actively seek our hearts’ desires.

Oh well … here’s to all of us who have not given up yet! Can we ask the powers that be to help us by banning fiestas all over Oriental Negros?

By the way, we did consider exercise! We will get to that, maybe after losing about 10 pounds … or maybe not … takes too much effort … bad lazy me!

Monday, October 09, 2006



If only I could throw you across my lap and spank your butts until they’re blue and black, I would!!! Oh stupid children, do you have to make you own mistakes before you will learn your lessons?

I am speaking to you Jimmy Jun, Jay, Japhet, John Robert, Akoi, and Gabriel – all of you who answered in the negative when asked whether we should be wearing helmets or not when riding our motorcycles. (Vox Populi, Metropost, October 1-7, 2006 issue)

Jimmy Jun, you said that you have been driving around Dumaguete for five years without a helmet, and have never encountered any problem, so why change the way things are?

My dear child, not having had any accident in the last five years does not mean that you have some sort of invisible shield around you, protecting you from all those “horrible” things that we older people seem to be scared of!

Jay, you said that we don’t have to wear a helmet because it makes us look ugly. Gabriel basically said the same thing, that helmets will lessen the beauty of fashion and style.

Oh, c’mon guys! Think how ugly you would really look if, God forbid, your faces would be scarred forever after a “minor” mishap. And I wonder how you could parade around in the latest fashion and style with a broken leg or two? Or how about if you would get your heads smashed and live to tell about it? But then, you would be confined in a wheelchair and tell your story in barely discernable speech, with saliva uncontrollably dripping down one side of your mouth. Now that’s a pretty sight!

John Robert, you made a valid observation about the helmet making it difficult for the driver to look on either side. It is difficult, yes, but not impossible. And you think that we do not really need helmets and that it is up for us to be more careful when driving.

Akoi, are you sure that accidents happen only when you drive fast?

Let me tell this to both of you. I am probably one of the most careful drivers there is. Why? Because I am painfully aware that I could lose my life anytime due to a million causes, including a vehicular accident. But I could not die yet. I must continue to live because I still have a six-year old daughter and I can’t have her growing up without her mother. That is why I am always careful.

But you know what? I still went down in my motorcycle while going at about 20 km/h. Preposterous? Not at all. The back of my motorcycle was nudged by a motorcab, and down I went! I escaped with just bruised knees and palms.

The point that I am trying to make is that no matter how careful you are, there will always be someone else out there who is not as careful as you are! And that somebody can crash into and maim or kill even the most careful driver in the world!

Do yourself a favor John and leave your youthful sense of invincibility behind. Face the scary reality that even the best driver is NOT SAFE from the really bad ones.

Akoi, take note of this: I was driving slow and so was the motorcab driver because we were both trying to inch our way out of a traffic jam at that time. But I still went down because of that slight bump.

I think most drivers still consider 40km/h slow. Can you imagine what would have happened if both of us had been going at 40km/h? I am not sure of this but wouldn’t that make the force of collision equivalent to 80 km/h? Can you imagine if I, or you, were thrown from the motorcycle at that speed?

If you had been following this column, you would know that a crash at 40km/h has the same impact as falling from a two-storey building into concrete.

Imagine, young Akoi, what it would be like to fall from a four-storey building into cemented ground. Ouch!

Finally, we get to Japhet whom I saved for last. Can I give you a hug? If I had a child when I was seventeen, he or she would be just your age by now. I prefer to hug you, as a mom would, rather than give vent to my strong urge to shake you until you are senseless!! Grrrr ...

Do you really believe that there is no need for helmets because we all drive slowly in Dumaguete anyway?

My child, where have you been lately? Haven’t you seen what’s REALLY happening in our streets? Haven’t you seen those crazy drivers zooming around as if racing in their own private racetracks, or zigzagging between the cars and motorcabs like seasoned stuntmen?
Or ever notice how reckless even the most mature-looking drivers become as soon as the rain would start falling? I call it the “mad dash” to the nearest shelter. I always send a silent prayer every time I would see these people, especially when their children are with them. I pray that they find shelter and not disaster.

But I may be asking you the wrong questions Japhet. Should I be asking instead – how fast is fast for you? If you think that 50km/h is still slow and that 80km/h is what’s really fast, then we are in great trouble here.

But really, Japhet, you are seriously mistaken. Dumaguete drivers are not saints. They do drive fast, really fast. And it is not just the young adults like you who do that. I have seen older men and women, and that makes it even worse, because these people are supposed to know better.

But I guess, young or old, we can all be blamed for thinking that we are invincible or untouchable. A very basic understanding of human nature will tell us that anyone can fall prey to the mistaken belief that bad things can happen only to the next guy, but never to us or our loved ones. How stupid of us!

This line of thought brings to mind one episode of CSI Miami where recovering alcoholics or people who were apprehended for drunk driving, were taken to the morgue to view the battered corpses of drunk drivers or of their victims. This was intended to impress into their fogged minds how easily death could come to them or to others as a consequence of their drunken acts.

I will probably get stoned, not only for contemplating this thought but for writing about this, but I am wondering if seeing a bloody head, or brain spilling out of a cracked skull, or broken and dismembered limbs scattered about, would make our children think twice before rejecting helmets, or before speeding around in their motorcycles?

This is extreme but I think that this is a preferable option compared to the risk of seeing them learn their lessons the hard way.

But how I wish that there could be gentler ways of knocking some sense into their heads and that we don’t have to pound their young minds into realizing that what had happened to others could happen to them as well.

Suggestions, anyone? But no stones, please!

Capri Pants and the PPO

I watched the concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Sofia Soller Sinco Hall in Foundation University last September 28, 2006.

Am I into classical music then? Yes and no. I am not that passionate over classical music but we do have a nodding acquaintance with each other.

By that, I mean that I can name a few of the biggest composers, just don’t make me match the geniuses’ names to that of their creations. Honestly, except for Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, there is no telling for me who composed which masterpiece.

But I do enjoy classical music. I had a collection of the popular classics once and even used to listen to a station in Manila that played it. When Abby was an infant, we had a speaker right inside her crib playing Mozart. I read somewhere that early exposure to his music is supposed to make babies brighter.

But I am limited to the light classics. There are others that are simply too incomprehensible to me. This happens when all of the instruments seem to go off together and I am left wondering where the melody has gone.

I have always wanted to watch a live performance. I looked forward to the PPO concert and could hardly wait for the day to come. The evening started with high anticipation, but horror of horrors!!! The sight of ladies in their resplendent evening dresses greeted us when we entered Foundation University!!!

My friend LB and I turned to each other with looks of terror and with mouths agape, surveyed each other’s attire. Oh yes, us two barrio lasses came in shirts and Capri pants!

We met Ms. Lele Martinez on our way in and all I could do was whine… “but they didn’t say it was a gala performance …..”, as if it could actually excuse our ignorance! A friend told me later on, “ikaw naman, PPO na yan no?” what could I say to that? nothing, except admit, “paano kasi, wala akong culture!”

What was I thinking of? Where did my brains go that night? As shameful as it is to admit, but the thought of dressing up for the concert never occurred to me. But on the other hand, even if it had, what could I have worn? I am basically a pants-shorts-and-shirts person and have absolutely nothing that could even remotely pass for evening attire.

It is quite amusing actually, thinking back of how LB and I cringed our way into Sofia Soller Sinco Hall, literally hunching our shoulders and wishing we could will ourselves into invisibility!

But all that was forgotten once the concert started. I was transfixed as I listened to the music and watched Maestro Eugene Fredrick Castillo conduct with what could only be described as pure passion.

I admit the selections that were played were unknown to me. I would have enjoyed the concert more if I had been listening to familiar pieces. There were times when I felt lost in the cacophony of sounds and I strove to find my way back by listening closely for the beautiful melodies created by the violins.

I think that the general audience shared my sentiments. I drew this conclusion from the almost tentative and lukewarm response to Beethoven’s and Schubert's music.

Matud Nila was actually received more spiritedly and the audience really came alive during the encore performance with the Sound of Music medley.

I guess that most people in the audience are basically like me. We appreciate classical music but not to the exclusion of other forms of music. We tend to respond with greater enthusiasm to classical pieces which are already known to us, or which are more familiar to our ears. We are not ready for the “heavier” classics yet.

My wish is for PPO to keep coming to Dumaguete and to include light classics in their repertoire. As Maestro Castillo said, “give classical music a chance”.

Oh yes, I’m all for that, but please start me off with the not-so-overwhelming-ones first! We can tackle the heavier pieces later on. But then again, that is only my personal wish!

Lunches at Southdale

I don’t think there was ever any meal in the last six years where I have not barked at my daughter to “EAT QUICKLY!” Not only has she perfected the two-hour meal, she actually elevated it into an art form!

And not only that, she is an infuriatingly picky eater. Our household survives primarily on fish and vegetables. But my opinionated daughter has long declared that fish is stinky and vegetable is yucky, hence an absolute “ewwwww!”. Believe me, short of starving her for two days so she would gobble up whatever is given to her, I have tried every trick in the book to no avail.

She seemed hopeless until she started eating her lunch at school. I was pleasantly surprised when her eating pace improved considerably. Let me qualify though. While Abby is indeed eating faster now, she is still almost always the last one to finish.

I suspect that she is bent on winning the trophy in the slow eaters’ category. Her closest rival for this honor is her school friend, Carla. Together, these two adorable girls effortlessly dried up their mothers’ supposedly ever-flowing springs of patience almost on a daily basis.

Other than that, lunches at Southdale are quite fun actually. The children either bring their meals to school or get them at lunchtime. It is a busy, noisy hour where younger children interact with those in the upper grades. They often dig into each other’s food and Abby’s soup has become everybody’s favorite. One can almost see the other girls craning their necks to see what her soup would be for that day.

Parents who are pressed for time often bought from Jollibee. Here is where some of us got into trouble with Teacher Maru, the school directress. Soda is not allowed in Southdale. Watching her check if the children were given softdrinks is very amusing. I got caught once. What could I say? except exclaim, “oh my gosh, I forgot! Soriiii!!!”

One pleasing outcome from our lunches at Southdale is seeing my daughter get her first lesson about individual differences. I can never forget the wide-eyed look on her face when the realization hit her. “Ate Jeina does not eat pork?!” Her utter look of disbelief was a classic!

It started when Abby urged Jeina to try her food and we had to explain that Jeina is a Muslim and does not eat pork. When Jeina’s mom approached the table, Abby turned to her and in her most authoritative tone, offered serious advice, “you know what, Teacher Maru? You should pray at our church because you will be allowed to eat pork there!” She was absolutely adorable as her young mind struggled to comprehend how people could bear not to eat the oh-so-yummy pork!

But she learned a valuable lesson that day, one that I hope will help shape her into the kind of person who will be respectful and tolerant, rather than be critical, of those who do not share her own beliefs and convictions.

I am glad that I decided to let Abby eat her lunch at school. I hesitated at first, but the decision was made for me when I learned that there was going to be a naptime for all the children after lunch. This is one great practice in Southdale and I welcomed this as an opportunity for my baby to get rejuvenated after being bombarded with the morning’s lessons.

Altogether, the lunches at Southdale sometimes translated into a learning experience for each child, be it in observing fine manners, social interaction, sharing, or respecting individual differences and boundaries. It is very gratifying to see the lunch area doubling as a classroom that prepares young children for the real world that is waiting beyond their school gates.