I had been trying to contain my excitement about this new book that I bought for my girls. It comes with reusable stickers and a storyboard. More, it was the supposed sequel to the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” that we all knew.
I waited for the right time to give it to them. Since there’s no special occasion, I thought I’d use it as a prize (or a bribe). As always, the house was a mess, so I told them that I would give them something as soon as they’ve put away all their toys and books, and finished their afternoon snacks (I always demand for a clean plate, no spillage). Surprisingly, A quickly started clearing the mess they created without a question or complaint (she’s really improving), whereas Z refused to move until she saw the package.
Well, I have to admit. I was excited to see the contents of the package myself and I was looking forward to helping them set it up. To get the excitement going, I included myself in their race to finish the snacks. However, Z rebuked me, saying that I am no longer a child so I shouldn’t join them anymore. Hmm… can’t I really join them anymore? “But Mommy is still a child at heart,” I reasoned out. And she just laughed.
Sure enough, the package was a treat. The stickers were lovely and the book was not only colorful, but the story itself was interesting. As I watched them play and study their prize, I also remembered the books and toys that kept me company and made me happy during my childhood days. And as usual, a train of random thoughts and happy memories of my childhood had once again erupted… I’ll share some of them here, but I’ll limit them to 25 only, okay? And, by the way, I was born in the late ’70s, so if you can’t relate, you were probably born much later. *wink
- I would know it was weekend when my older brothers would flock around our tiny red JVC Nivico TV in the living room to watch “The SuperFriends” in the morning. And when that happened, my day was already made.
- My mother taught me how to read and write before I was barely five years old and would leave me alone while she would go about her daily chores. Books such as “Noong Bata pa si Rizal” (about the Philippine National Hero‘s childhood days), “The Flying Trunk” (I never really liked this story), and “Sleeping Beauty” (my favorite) would keep me company.
- I was never afraid of the dark or of being left alone. (I’ve always been afraid of lightning and electricity or of getting electrocuted though.) That’s why I could play by myself for hours and never complained.
- I’ve always loved animals, except cats even if they were all over our place when I was growing up. I liked looking at them, but not petting them.
- I had this beautiful red jumpsuit that was a hand-me-down from a family friend. I was so attracted to its vibrant color and tiny flowers embroidered just above its front pocket. I waited too long to grow into it, but by the time it finally fit me, I couldn’t wear it because the people around me would tease me. They said that because of its color, a bull would come out of nowhere and chase me if I wore it.
- I loved chasing butterflies and dragonflies. When it’s time for my afternoon nap and my babysitter happened to fall asleep before I did, I would sneak out of the house and go to the fields in the nearby subdivision with my friends to chase them. (This was when we finally moved to our own house in Las Pinas; we used to rent a Spanish-style house in Manila when I was much younger.)
- I love plants, especially those that have beautiful flowers, and I liked gardening too. I had my own little garden filled with beautiful plants and rocks (indeed, it was a rock garden too!) and I would tend to them everyday. I would plant the seeds until I discovered earthworms. Since then, I would just water the plants and let my late mother do the planting.
- I had my first and only Barbie doll when I was around four or five years old. It was a Skipper and I treated it like a small person. I played with it all the time, gave it a bath, made sure it’s always well-groomed, even cut its hair and nails. (My early science discovery: although dolls looked like humans, they do not grow like we do.)
- I also had a walking doll that would walk toward you if you clap your hands. It could open and shut its eyes, depending on its position, too. Back in those days, such toy was not available locally. I happened to have a cousin who was a seaman, however, and would bring us stuffs from abroad, especially from USA and Japan. (The perks of having a relative who goes abroad and keeps in touch with you!) That’s how I got my walking doll, which I never wanted to part (with). I cried when one of its legs was broken and could no longer walk.
- Because my brother who was nine years my senior was my first playmate, I learned to play with toys that were supposedly made for boys, such as Lego, Matchbox, and SuperTrams. And I actually loved playing them! My Matchbox car was an apple green Porsche that had destroyed a good number of other Matchbox cars. (Imagine how rough we played!)
- I used to beat the guys that were around my brothers’ age in “Game of the Generals“. The only ones I couldn’t beat were my own brothers who were nine and eleven years older than me, respectively, and taught me how to play the game.
- It was my brothers who taught me how to clean the house and cook rice. They were my disciplinarians, too.
- Tira-tira (stick caramel candy), Kraft cheese sticks, and Jack ‘n Jill Chiz Curls (as well as its cheap imitation brands) were my favorite snacks when I was young.
- My father had this habit of giving me a big amount of money (too big for someone my age to hold) from time to time. And I had this habit of putting it in my purse and bringing it with me wherever I’d go. Once, I lost my purse and a search team of both adults and kids in our neighborhood helped me find it. Now that’s quite a number of good neighbors we had then!
- My eldest brother and a cousin about his age liked going to Shakey’s late at night. Sometimes I would go with them, and while they had pizza and beer, I had pizza and chocolate/strawberry milkshake. Shakey’s was also the place where I first saw a band performed live. Up to this time, I like going to that pizza parlor, not so much for their (good) food, but for the wonderful childhood memories I had with them.
- My late mother was a natural entrepreneur. No matter what kind of product she decided to make or/and sell, it was sure to be a hit. I think I have it in my blood, too. When I was in elementary, I would buy junk foods from a neighborhood variety store, divide them into single servings using my cooking play set and resell them to kids my age, particularly boys. I would also hire some servers and pay them for their labor once all the food’s gone, then use the profit to buy stuffs to sell again the following day. (That’s the only kind of Math that did not bother me, by the way.)
- I was an introvert at school, but was a complete opposite at home. While I had very few friends in school and kept mostly to myself, at home I was friends with just about everybody in the neighborhood. I played outside most of the time and was a pro at piko (hopscotch), jump rope (including Chinese garter/jump rope), tumbang preso, shato, patintero, and street soccer. (I wish my children could experience playing all of those games, too.)
- My girl friends, especially those who were very good at drawing, and I enjoyed playing paper dolls so much. We’d make our own dolls and dress them up too. We’d also build houses for them with furniture and appliances out of cigarette cardboard boxes, which we would get for free from a neighborhood store.
- I had always thought of myself good at coloring, but never at drawing. I used to join some magazine coloring contests for kids when I was young.
- “Batibot” and “Ang mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang” were the only Tagalog TV programs that I was allowed to watch when I was young. If I wanted to watch TV then, it had better be Sesame Street or some English cartoon program. Moreover, unlike most children in my school and neighborhood, I was exposed to TV series such as McGyver, Mission Impossible, The Knight Rider, Miami Heat, 21 Jump Street, and even Wrestling at a very young age. (You can guess. It’s because of the age gap between my siblings and me, although I also learned to enjoy those programs later on.)
- I’ve always loved writing and I had kept numerous journals in the past. I would also attempt to write short stories and poems. I never imagined becoming a writer or editor, however. Instead, I’ve imagined myself becoming a TV or radio news anchor and talk show host when I was young. (I had the opportunity to become one after I graduated from college, but let it go because I wasn’t prepared to leave home for work at 3AM nor was I prepared to rent a room in an unfamiliar place.)
- I loved playing dress up when I was a little girl. To complete the look, I would sneak in my sister’s drawers and use her makeup while she’s at work. (I wonder if she can read this…)
- Music was a great part of my life when I was growing up; mostly because of my siblings who also loved music. I was exposed to the great 80s hits of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cindy Lauper, Whitney Houston, as well as of bands such as Duran Duran, Fra Lippo Lippi, Tears for Fears, and so much more. I also learned to love the Beatles and watched all of their MTVs with one of my big brothers. I think I was an MTV addict at such an early age.
- The first Tagalog movie that I had seen in theater was D’Godson (Nino Mulach, 1983) whereas the first English movie that I had seen in theater was Super Girl (Helen Slater, 1984). I was alone with my eldest brother in the former, whereas I was with all three of my siblings when I watched the latter. I both saw those films at the Harrison Plaza, Manila.
- I loved the rain. I used to dance, run and play in the rain when I was a child. Now that I am already an adult, I would just walk in the rain, especially when I feel like crying.
I can’t help smiling to myself as I reminisce about these things. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m already 34! Nevertheless, I am glad I was born in an era where I have seen and experience the best of more than one decade.