• Jasmine Mendiola

Mio by the Minute

I’m so scared to update this blog! There’s so much to tell and so little time!

We just survived Mio’s 3rd day in school and I’m still shocked at his excitement. Finally, he’s turning out to be the child that I have envisioned I’d have — super bibo! He happily reported that on his first day of school he guided his classmates to the comfort room ‘coz when someone wanted to pee, his teacher asked who knew how to go to the restroom. Lucky Mio, his Mommy toured him the week before after orientation and pointed out those important spots in campus. So bibo Mio raised his hand, “I raised my hand first” in his words and ended up showing his classmates where the restroom was. He was officially appointed “row monitor” on his third day of class. What a feat! He can run in the Student Council and set a mask trend in campus now! Hehe

During that fateful tour, upon seeing the playground, cancer-conscious and all, he asks, “is the playground clean Mom?” just minutes ago while he was drumming away on his Tita Clems’ rockband he accidentally drops the drumstick, pauses the game and picks it up. “It dropped…” with a shrill in his voice. We had to reassure him that it was still clean from when his yaya mopped and swept the floor yesterday. You see, since telling him that he cannot contact germs since being diagnosed 10 months ago, Mio washes his hands on an average of 30 times. A day. Imagine his horror when, while peeing, his shirt accidentally slipped from being tucked under his chin! And moreso when he caught me putting his (apparently) favorite toys in his toy bin saying that, “my toy bin is dirty coz it’s behind the door, please keep my favorite toys on my table,”–it doesn’t stop there–“Mom! Don’t take away that bag (a small pouch from one of those small goodies we get during give-aways), it’s for when I want to bring some of my cars.” My son is turning out to be an organized freak by the day. I remember when he was 2, even before he could talk in straight sentences, my Kuya would intentionally leave drawers open and watch Mio close them. Again and again.

Not only is Mio getting smarter, he’s also developed his own mannerisms and expressions that I’ve never heard anyone in our households utter. Things such as “Oh dear,” “o my Godness (because according to him God’s the greatest of all goodness)”… its quite a relief to look at him and see that he’s just like any normal boy beyond the mask.

Mio, also has this fascination over Jesus. He once eagerly responded to his tutor Ginny’s proding on what words had long E sounds and after illustrating words like ‘tree’, ‘bee’, ‘sea’ my son blurts out “Jesus!” recently he asks questions like, “I thought Jesus invented the moonwalk,” when he saw Michael Jackson dancing it. While singing once, he asked, “do you know what Jesus’ voice sounds like?” or, “have you met Jesus?” Oh God forbid. Now’s not our time yet, son 🙂

I am, however, at most awe talking about his artworks from his summer classes in Happy Valley with Painting teacher, Jay Varina. Mio has learned how to shade, create shadows, mix colors with oil pastel and paint acrylic on canvass. More than his talent, I am amazed that my six year old is given these opportunities to hone a craft that is quite unique for his age, or for anyone for that matter. I remember my Mom rooting that I continue on honing my piano-playing skills which I tread for a good six years myself. I also recall how disappointed she was when I said I’d quit piano along with dancing and pursue acting instead (which ironically was for the Ateneo Children’s Theater. It was a walk down memory lane touring Mio, I was able to point out my theater days back in grade school and a teacher I had then, Ms. Vitug remembered me and pointed out to Mio that she had known me when I was THIS small! How cute.) I pray hard that Mio will continue pursuing his art. Some people have asked if they can have Mio commission an artwork for them in his own time and I am honored. I hope however that he finds this to be the best tool for him to express whatever feelings he might have–about being sick, being helped and of all the challenges that his new school might present.

I am horrified that he is being taught simple military responses to words such as “Attention!” and that the Parent’s Orientation focused on Father & Son bonding activities and very little family or Mother & Son endeavors. It is the price I pay for wanting to put him in a normal exclusive boys school. The thought that comforts me when I am faced with this realization every now and then is that if Mio can conquer cancer, why should social ostracizing be the bane of his existence? (Oh dear God, will his teenage years show that a first love is most lethal to him of them all?)

Big school presents so many new doors to all parents. I am grateful that in spite of all the warning signs parenting advice say on having to teach the child independence, mine is already so. It hurts a bit when I ponder on why he readily lets go, thinking that I might have been less attentive, reducing his need for me–but Mio is not just a witty boy. He is mostly sweet. A mama’s boy in the truest sense of the word. He surprises me everyday with a longing that I cannot understand. How he would still love me in spite of the lack of time and how his little mind tries to grasp the concept that unlike his Tita Jonie, his Mommy can’t spend all days in a week without toiling long hours at work away from him is because I have only myself to work for the money we need–leaves me paralyzed. 

Strong yet sick; young yet wise; ignorant yet reasonable; sensitive but independent — these are adjectives that I readily wrote down his profile when asked by his teacher and I hope that someday, some of these things stay the same. I am unsure about how long he can remain young and naive but I am sure that him being sick would soon be history.

“June is my worst month!” he said on the eve of this month. I asked why and he reiterates that his chemo on the 23rd involves the spine, “my chemo is IT!” and slaps his forehead as if he was so dumb to forget when I reminded him that it can’t be that bad considering that school was starting. And everyday, he hurries to bed, closing his eyes as he pulls up his blanket and hastens his prayer because “I don’t want to wake up late for school tomorrow Mom!”


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