• Jasmine Mendiola

Thank God for Spongebob

We’ve been having “the grandest vacation of our life” at the hospital for a week now and our bill is shooting up to a fast 6-digits. My son’s mood has been swinging back and forth as if he had a second childhood, terrible threes and PMS all at the same time. It has truly been a test of humility and patience on my part and I cannot imagine how Mio is taking all of this.

The white board on our wall has the day, date, “My nurse is:________” and “Instructions for the day:” written on it. Ours go:

> please wear mask at all times

> observe strict handwashing at all times

> nothing by mouth by 12 midnight

> report any discomfort noted

My son has gotten too accustomed with the nurses on standby. He won’t even let me touch his IV and call out, “Mom can you please press the buzzer for the nurse?” And when I do, a voice from the nursing station calls out from the intercon and Mio shouts just so they can hear him clearly, “backflow again!”

Mio picks up really fast so he’s quite familiar now with medical terms as such including IV, BP, temperature, syringe…. (well, if they’re normal words and far from the medical terms, forgive me coz I just know the artsy stuff). And I think its just fair that I try to make him understand why he’s going through all of these medicines and why we’ve been here for the longest time.

That is to no avail. When I asked him last night how he felt–referring to the 4th note on the white board, he firmly answered, “I’m angry.”

O my Lord. When I asked why, he winningly said a litany of why he feels as such:

“I’m angry because of the needles. They’re owie.”

“I hate injections.”

“I don’t like yucky medicine… one teaspoon only!”

“I want to sleep, tell the nurse not to wake me up!”

“I don’t like bone marrow. I want Dr. Racho! I want the doctor to be gentle!”

“I want to go home. I miss Happy Valley, Dada, Anmom and Tito Jon…”

All these frustrations from a five year old. Heavy. Aside from the endless worry on how we’ll manage to get out of this hospitalization-slash-hotel-living without a constraint order from St. Luke’s or how we’ll work around work (multiple jobs at that to get by on our average lifestyle), his education and safety, I am anxious over the idea of having to be away from him from now on.

Quite honestly, I am ashamed to admit that contrary to what most of you think, I am not the most hands on mother on earth. I had to ween him from breastfeeding as early as his third month because I had lactating breasts during job interviews and had to disperse the milk in public toilets so I can buy milk and diapers and pay for his vaccines; I am stripped of the chance to see him in his waking hour and putting him to bed because I have to juggle three jobs; and I sneak in a drink or two to catch up on the people who help me get by, my friends who keep my sanity intact so I can come home to Mio without resentment or the feeling that I had to give up so much just so I can be a parent. I had all these excuses, you know. And although I know that this isn’t my fault… that there is no reason for all of this to happen… here in these four walls, I have control.

I can manage my expectations knowing well that I am surrounded by medical experts and that nurses are quick to respond to our needs; I can smile and joke on Mio’s illness because I see and know day in day out what’s done to him and how he feels; I can write away because my thoughts are filled with nothing else but this disease and my son’s relief. But once we leave, the true test of blind faith will commence and my thoughts will be all over the place. How sure am I that if anything happens to my immuno-compromised child, it is not because I wasn’t there that’s why it happened? No wonder Mio firmly says “No!” when I remind him of what’s to happen once he gets better.

I hate it too. That he has to go through all of this and I cannot explain it to my son who is probably the smartest boy I’ve spoken to. He processes his feelings and verbalizes them so well, its hard not to make him understand.

I’ve realized that not all things–more so the concept of how people you least expect would help or the lack of sensitivity from some would be hard to comprehend. And there is no answer to these why questions. At least my kind of faith tells me that there is room to be more faithful and accept.

How do you explain the concept of acceptance to a five year old kid? Its bigger than what adults can fathom, more so for him. I cannot even begin to imagine how he actually feels in spite of his ranting. It hurts me that I cannot make him understand. I can’t even explain why he has to simply accept or how.

“Just keep asking your questions, baby even if they’re plenty, God will answer you maybe in a dream, you’ll just know it. You just have to trust that the doctors know what they’re doing, that they’re taking good care of you and they won’t let you drink medicine or give you injection that won’t be good for you.. We’re fighting the enemies, right? … you have to be brave because its going to be hard and painful. Just keep asking Jesus to make the owie go away fast. Just do it, Anak.”

Ang hirap kaya tanggapin ng “basta” pag matalino ka. (Its hard to accept that not everything that happens has a reason when you actually think.)

No wonder stupid movies and chick flicks amuse us. The ignorance and idiocy in cartoons simplify life like it is what it is and there’s no reason for things. They’re just how they are. Once you’ve sought deeper meaning in it, it gets complicated and becomes harder. My son is five. My neck hurts at the thought of what else he’s up against when he’s getting it hard now.

My Kuya was joking with the doctor when we noticed Mio’s spine was a bit angled and protruded, “Leukemia, scoliosis… ano pa kaya meron ang batang yan?” (“What else does this boy have?”)

It’s all a mystery like how it is down under the sea. No wonder Mio’s comfort and joy these days is keeping the tv tuned in on Spongebob (we’ve never turned it off since Monday last week. We actually haven’t changed channels away from Nickelodeon) and he keeps watching the same episodes of his favorite cartoons again and again. Its useless and stupid. But at least we’re laughing and we know how it ends. There’s a lack of intellect and substance. Don’t you think some cartoons under estimate our kids’ capacity to think?

Then again, how else would a five year old understand that faith is beyond reason? How else? I guess Spongebob’s happy-go-lucky disposition and the kindness he has deep in his heart–the way he’d absorb everything that just comes and come out alive–you think that’s stupid or was that just how faith gets him by?



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