My Kids, Parenting

My Speech at Danae’s Graduation

About a month ago, I was asked by Danae’s teacher to speak or share a testimony at Danae’s graduation ceremony about Danae’s and our experience in Kidvantage. It was such an honor to be able to share this on March 29, 2012.

Let me begin by saying that my husband and I believe that EDUCATION BEGINS AT HOME. We, the parents are our children’s first teachers, and hopefully their constant source of knowledge and wisdom as they grow older.

Our daughter Danae was not a traditional learner because she was, still is, very active, and had quite a short attention span. She learned from play time, from our conversations, from bed-time and other stories, from videos, from our trips to the mall or the beach, in the car, on a boat or on a plane. Like all children, she was, still is, a sponge – soaking up everything she is exposed to. She wasn’t really the type who would sit down and learn, which made me just a little bit worried. This is where Kidvantage came into the picture.

We enrolled Danae in the summer workshop when she was 2 and a half years old. Her teacher was Teacher Chris, who was great at distracting her from the thought of my absence (I was right outside, of course) and at keeping her interested in being in the classroom. That class helped in teaching her to stay in a confined space, to pay attention, to be with other kids her age, to respect authority, to be independent, and have fun while learning. How perfect that Kidvantage believes that PLAY IS A CHILD’S SERIOUS WORK.

We waited 1 year before enrolling Danae in Nursery because we wanted to make sure she would not be pressured to mature or to keep up with older classmates. It was also perfect timing because she already knew how to read 3 to 4-letter words by then. She adjusted well and she made new friends. It was also then that T. Milette discovered and nurtured Danae’s ability to read and understand short stories, hence her first excellence in reading award that year. In Kinder, we noticed that she enjoyed answering her workbooks and doing homework. It was quite unexpected, but we took the opportunity to buy her other books and to ask Teacher Grace for more work sheets. Teacher Grace was kind enough to accommodate us on our request. This year under T. Milette and T.Cel’s tutelage, we saw that Danae enjoys Math and Language. She has surprisingly been doing pretty well in Filipino, too. They also told us that she has been steadily improving in her social skills.

In the last 3 years, we have learned that academics are essential, yes, but we believe that CHARACTER BUILDING IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. We appreciate the role that Kidvantage, the teachers and staff play in helping us mold our child into a God-fearing, wise, kind and loving individual.

Teachers, when you mediate fights between Danae and a classmate, you CO-LABOR with my husband and I in teaching Danae about friendship, about communication, about self-control, about patience, about humility, about love, about forgiveness. When you remind her that she cannot force her ideas or beliefs on others, you co-labor with us in teaching her acceptance and to respect others. When you remind her to wait for her turn and to share, you co-labor with us in teaching her about having a good attitude and about generosity. When you teach about polite expressions, you co-labor with us in teaching her good manners and respect. When you tell your class to line up, to keep quiet, to listen, to raise their hand, to clean up, to follow rules, you co-labor with us in disciplining her. When you assign her to be teacher’s helper for the day, you co-labor with us in training her to follow and to lead. When you involve our family in school activities, you co-labor with us in building precious memories with her and in teaching her the importance and value of family. When you pray and read Bible stories to the class, you co-labor with us in teaching her to love and honor God. When you encourage her to join games and programs, you co-labor with us in teaching her about unity, cooperation, good sportsmanship, self-confidence. When you teach about different people and different nations, you co-labor with us in teaching her about the world, about dreams, about the future. When you include play, laughter, creativity inside the classroom, you co-labor with us in teaching her to have a love for learning because learning is fun.

So thank you for your hard work and your patience in PARTNERING with us. Thank you that despite the individual lives you lead, which come with its own share of problems and difficulties, you still come to class with smiles on your faces and give your best. Thank you for your passion for your work, that even though it is a high-expectation, low-appreciation, not to mention a not-so-well-compensated kind of job, you are faithful and joyful with the responsibility of giving our child quality and quantity lessons. I’m sure I speak for the parents here when we say thank you for your great love for all our children, who may not always be the nicest or most behaved little human beings in the world, and who may not have the most understanding parents in the world either. Thank you for sowing into our children’s lives. We deeply appreciate it.

May you, Kidvantage, continue to live up to your vision/mission statement that “the whole child is the whole idea.” God bless you, more power, and see you next year….because it’s going to be Noelle’s turn. Thank you.

CONGRATULATIONS DANAE! WE ARE SO VERY PROUD OF YOU! DADDY AND I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT WE ALREADY HAVE A GRADUATE — OUR FIRST GRADUATE! Pre-school yeah, but still a graduate haha. And yes you’re done with pre-school, but not with school. (She was so happy after graduation, saying that she’s done with school hahaha.) Great job on your 3rd Reading Excellence award too (3 years in a row)! WE LOVE YOU NAE-NAE! 🙂

Motherhood, My Kids, Parenting

How well do you know your child?

Because Danae’s 6 and Noelle’s already almost 3, their personalities are more evident than ever. It definitely showed during our recent trip. For one, well this one’s not new at all, they’re both witty and funny. Years ago, Danae at age 3 exclaimed as we landed in Manila probably from Cagayan de Oro, “Thank you Lord!,” which made people behind us chuckle. Last month, Noelle exclaimed with her normal loud voice as we landed in Singapore, “I made it!”, which made everyone around us LOL. hahaha. It caught me by surprise how everybody turned to us and laughed. Noelle wasn’t too happy about the response but later on she would recount that “she made everyone happy on the airplane.”

We walked quite a lot in Singapore. Although Danae at times complained that she was tired, she was more a trouper than Noelle was. When Noelle didn’t feel like walking anymore, she really wouldn’t walk. She’d stop in her tracks, slump her shoulders, make her adorable complaining face, and whine “I can’t.” I must say though that Noelle is quite easy to lead because she prefers to hold my hand almost all the time. Danae, of course, would much rather be free to move around.

Danae enjoyed all the shows, while Noelle got bored quickly. Danae was willing to try some of the rides. Noelle wasn’t. She would much rather EAT! Which makes it even more surprising that she was willing to go on The Luge with us! But both definitely love love love the water. Noelle came alive when we allowed them to play in the fountains at Universal Studios.

Both girls are relatively manageable when traveling, but Noelle really has her own mind. She’s picky when it comes to bathrooms. She won’t use it if she feels it’s dirty or stinky. She’ll say that her pee is “not coming out.” She would also tell me to flush the toilet first even though it’s clean. But thank God they didn’t mind me using baby wipes on them after they did #2. I’ve finally conceded to using them. I totally refused to do so before because I preferred washing them with soap and water. Yay me!

After I got them dressed when they got wet in the fountain, Danae easily slipped on her wet shoes, while Noelle just refused to! Squeamish much? Thank God we rented a stroller. It didn’t matter much that she was barefoot, except when it was time to leave the stroller. Guess who had to carry her.

Even with clothes, Noelle is so picky! Danae will almost always comply with what I prepare for her. I cannot force Noelle to wear anything she does not like. Sometimes it’s understandable, but many times it’s just not. Even while it was drizzling, she didn’t want to wear her rain coat! The stress is coming back to me! Hahaha.

It definitely teaches me as a mom to be flexible, to know which battles to pick and which ones to let go. Did I mention that Noelle is quite a messy kid? Danae’s not a neat freak, but at least she was willing to clean up when she was little! Noelle even drew on my mom’s wall, which Danae never did! On the other hand, it’s fairly easy to talk to Noelle when it comes to things she wants, except maybe when it comes to food haha. She can cope well with not getting what she wants right away while Danae more often demands instant gratification. My kids are walking contradictions! Probably just like their mom. Haha.

It just goes to show that each child is different. Danae and Noelle may have their similarities, but they have different personalities. It teaches us parents to be attentive and engaged, else we would assume that what worked for one will work for the other, which may not necessarily be true. There is really no ONE formula in raising our kids. We must constantly learn and be open to learning — learn about our own children, get to know them, spend time with them, talk to them, play with them….and be open to learning other ways of nurturing our relationships with them, of teaching them, of guiding them.

The more I know my children, the greater my capacity to anticipate situations and prepare myself to deal with them as they come. The more I know my children, the greater my capacity to understand them and to communicate with them. The more I know my children, the more I learn about myself. The more I know myself, the more I know that I cannot do this on my own!!! I need King’s partnership and we need the wisdom, the grace, and the love of God for us to be able to raise these precious girls. 🙂

Marriage

SEASON OF CHALLENGES

I really enjoyed what Yeng and Michelle did to start their session entitled SEASON OF CHALLENGES, at our recently concluded Couples’ Getaway 2011. We were divided into groups of 8 or more couples. The task was for each spouse to instruct his/her blindfolded spouse to avoid stepping on the unnecessary toys and pick up the one item that is assigned to them. Whichever team would get all 10 items first, would win. Strategic planning, then the blindfolding were done in the function room. The game was outside. I was the one blindfolded. I did not see which lane was for our team, or see the arrangement of toys. King & I were the 3rd in our line and our item was the wrist watch.

I’m so proud of King! He was an excellent leader and team player! As I was blindfolded, waiting for our turn, he already gave me specific instructions. He told me that if he says PENGUIN, I’m supposed to take baby steps. I demoed it for him to confirm. If he says BIG STEP or SMALL STEP, I’m supposed to take a step but wait for him to tell me how much further or nearer, and wait for him to tell me when to set my foot down. Instructions were clear from the very beginning.

When it was our turn, I trusted him completely. When he said STOP, I stopped immediately. When I was not clear on what he wanted me to do, I would clarify. If I could not understand the instruction, I told him so, then he would change it in a way that I understood. He was calm and very patient. I was attentive and surprisingly calm too. I followed his instructions carefully, as best as I could. We went through the challenge JUST ONCE! Which means I didn’t step on any object at any time, else I’d have to go back from the beginning all over again. Of course, my Crocs flats helped too, because they aren’t big shoes. It was easier to avoid the little toys. After our turn, King helped the rest of our teammates by guiding them and encouraging them.

Our team did not win the challenge, we finished 3rd, but it was such a cool experience. The game was very telling of how a couple TRUSTS, how they COMMUNICATE, and with what kind of ATTITUDE they approach challenges in their marriage.

Much like in our marriages, we start the game on the same page. But along the way, things happen, things change. There are times that communication is not clear or is not working. We need to work to understand each other. Re-adjusting is necessary. It was great that I ended up being the one led, just as a wife is. I had to trust my husband’s leadership. I did not assume that I knew better, because I couldn’t. I was the one who couldn’t see anything! Sometimes, we have blind spots. We must be wise & loving in how we tell our spouse of their blind spots, and when we are the ones being reminded, we must trust in their wisdom and love too. Attitude is everything! If you let your temper or frustration get the better of you, then communication, wisdom, trust go out the window, and are replaced by PRIDE.

Haha, I’m getting rebuked as I write this. We did great in the game, but reality is a different story. MUST APPLY IN REAL LIFE! 🙂

Check the previous blog SEASONS to find out what our assigned item represented, along with the rest of the 9 items. Included there are the lessons we learned from the other speakers as well. 🙂