For my kids’ generation, learning a new skill is so much more accessible now than it was during my time. It’s normal for kids now to learn a skill or two during summer break. Some of the families I know have daughters who learn ballet, sons who take up martial arts, some whose kids go into music, while others go into computer programming, and so on.
During my time which was in the 80’s to 90’s, kids learn new skills through informal “apprenticeship” (sort of) with their parents or their relatives. It’s like homeschooling sans grading system. My parents were often away for their chicken retail business back then so I learned to clean our house, create my own toy cars (I was never into dolls), and DIY my bags through my friends and aunts. Whenever dad was home, I’d learn cooking with him. He used to be a chef in a popular hotel in Manila in the ’70’s. I now consider myself lucky to have learned household skills early on because those are the kind of skills that are helping me get by in this pandemic.
I also learned about retail selling early on. I was three years old when mom and I sold our rice porridge near a construction site. The porridge was such a hit, we had to cook three batches in one day. My dad also tried to teach me how to play the piano but both of us had short tempers (I still do) that we ended up fighting a lot. I recall those moments with dad with so much fondness now.
The skills learned by children my age at the time weren’t always “conventional” by the way. I had a neighbor who learned cockfighting from his uncle. Another friend learned how to sew dolls that were so ugly, my friends and I suspected for a time that her aunt was a witch. Haha! My neighborhood was a typical Filipino community where kids were scared off by stories of ghosts, witches, and ghouls. It was also during this time that I learned how to make my own stories impromptu during our night time storytelling to pass the time especially when it’s full moon and there were power outages.
These stories you’ve read so far are part of my first childhood during the time that the country has just regained its democracy from a tyrant president. Just like what we are experiencing in this pandemic now, it wasn’t easy for everyone back then too. I remember joining my mom in a long queue of people just to get food and water. I saw dead people on the streets – the collateral damage of warring military/political families. Filipinos were divided between two opposing political groups. I was a child back then, seeing all these harsh realities, not exactly oblivious, but also doing my best to survive by learning new skills.
This Pandemic Has Become My Second Childhood
More than three decades after, a virus wreaks havoc around the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This pandemic has been hard on everyone – with people losing their jobs, their loved ones, their business, their career, it was enough to make anyone lose his or her marbles.
Looking at my social media feed, putting aside the sad and depressing news, I see people who are also doing their best to survive. I’ve seen friends who lost their jobs go into various business ventures. Majority of my them got into baking and other culinary endeavors and multilevel marketing product distributorships.
This time of crisis has also become a chance to learn new skills while making sense of everything around me just like when I was a child. I consider this pandemic as my second life, my reset life. It’s as if someone pushed a button at the top of my head and I have rewired to start anew.
I now look at all that’s happening around me as my second childhood – not oblivious but also with a sense of detachment, if you get what I mean. It’s as if I’ve become the child again, entering an unfamiliar territory but at the same time, careful not to come across an invisible enemy.
If you’ve been following this blog since it started two years ago, you’d know that I have recently fallen in love with watercolor. Watercolor is my child born out of this pandemic. I have written a few articles about my art journey in this blog that it’s starting to look like an art blog rather than a science blog.
My first painting of an eye using charcoal.
I look at my social media and I see people going out of their comfort zones to try new things and it gives me a feeling that I’m knowing my friends for the first time again. Feeling and thinking like a child now has also helped me deal with challenges of keeping friendship despite restrictions imposed by community quarantines. I got unfriended on social media for posting so much about my art and I quickly shrugged it off like a child would.
“Di nya ako bati! E di wag!” (loosely translates to: ” If I’m not her friend anymore, fine!”) was my only reaction to people disliking and unfriending me just like a child who lost her friend over a small squabble. And guess what? I felt totally fine and at peace with myself.
“I now have a mind of a child. I know little and thus, can’t be expected to be perfect all the time. I can’t please everyone and I don’t choose to.”
I am growing and learning with my kids as if I’m more of their sibling rather than their mom. Just this week, I enrolled in charcoal painting and ukelele lessons with my little boy. Opportunities to learn them were presented to me and I took them without wasting my time thinking about it.
Yesterday, I learned how to tune our ukulele for the first time.
Life is so damn short. We all know that more so now than ever. My kids have taught me how to be like them and it has been splendid.