Tuesday, January 29, 2008

i want to be alive

when does a child grasp the real meaning of death?

it was just me and my son roque at the dinner table tonight when he asked me, "what do people do in heaven?"

i said, "well... they probably sing with the angels or play. it's a happy place."

"but the people there are old," he said. i knew he thought that people only die when they get old and then they go to heaven.

"no," i said, "not all people in heaven are old."

he thought about it for a while, i guess trying to understand what i just said. i was not sure if he realized just then that not just old people die. and then he said, "i don't want to die even if i'm old. even if i'm 100 years old, i still want to be alive."

"well... super lolo was alive until he was 105 years old, remember?" i reminded him. "so you really can still be alive at 100."

he paused to think long again, and then he asked, "are you gonna be dead soon?"

"no, i don't think so. i hope not.... why do you ask?" i asked.

"nothing," he said, putting his head near mine and closing his eyes real tight, holding back his tears, while giving me a momentary hug.

"of course not, i won't die yet," i reassured him... in my mind, i thought, "if it is at all humanly possible, i want to be alive with you by the time you reach 100."

Friday, January 04, 2008


somehow my son roque's birthday, which falls on january 4th, gets lost in the craziness of the holiday season. except for his first birthday wherein everything was in every sense a children's party, complete with balloons, games, prizes, catered buffet, animal show and lootbags, the other birthday celebrations were not typical parties. and shoot me, it's because i get so busy with the holidays and find myself suddenly face to face with january 4th, unprepared. again and again and again, for the past 4 years.

this year, i vowed to be prepared. i thought it was simple enough to celebrate his 6th birthday in school -- bring lunch to share in class, cake, ice cream and lootbags for all his classmates and teachers. so right after christmas last year, we bought all the stuff we needed for the school party, printed out the invitations to be given first day of school, and prepared all the lootbags with roque. except for the fact that his birthday celebration was going to be on the 9th instead of the 4th (which was perfectly okay with roque since their first day back to school is on the 7th), the celebration is going to be organized this year.

or so i thought.

yesterday, the day before his actual birthday, when i came home from work, roque excitedly announced to me, "i invited three of my friends from the park to my party tomorrow."
"what?!!" i asked, "what party tomorrow?"
"january 4, remember?!!" with a tone enough to make me feel guilty thinking i forgot his special day.
"yes, i know it's january 4 tomorrow... but didn't we decide your party was going to be in school next week?"
"but tomorrow is my birthday and i already invited them," he argued, which yaya mayann confirmed he did.

"oh wow," i sighed to myself, resigned with the thought that it can't be that bad preparing merienda for three kids tomorrow. i can even make three extra lootbags. yes, it will be just a short merienda in the afternoon, and the kids can go back to the park and play afterwards. so i agreed to have the little get-together to celebrate his birthday on the actual date of his birth.

"can we print out the invitations?" he asked.
"but they're only three kids and you already told them, right?" i said.
"yes, but maybe i should invite paolo and arton, margaux and martina. and yes, elijah and calli, too."

and so the list grew to five girls and five boys, including him. so okay, we printed out the invitations which he planned to deliver to the kids' houses early in the morning. he even made an actual guest list which he ticked as each kid confirmed the following day.

at exactly 4 pm today, the kids came trickling in. we put the wii on for entertainment as an after thought and it was an instant hit. the hula hoop was put to good use too. and so was the plastic bowling set, some stuff toys and the play construction workstation. the living room was like a war zone with the kids talking-shouting, playing, laughing-shrieking all at the same time. the simple merienda-then-go-play-in-the-park plan turned into a riot of a party from 4pm till 8pm. the kids didn't want to leave even after the lootbags were handed out! my husband thought it was a subtle but sure way of saying "party's over kids" with a thought bubble "it's time for us to rest and finally have some peace and quiet". well, he's never been more wrong.

roque had planned his party to happen as it did. and what a surprise party it was for me. except that it wasn't really for me. after all the kids have gone home, he said, "that was a really fun party! i had lots of fun! really!..... thanks mom, thanks dad." and then he reminded me, "i have another one in school next week, right?"