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HONORING MY MOTHER | In my little town

I caught a wisp of conversation from a family having dinner at a table nearby. “Finish your rice, there are people starving everywhere”. The mom (or I resumed she was), was standing as she reminded the kids who were set to go. I was sure I had heard the same directive before. It might have been from my mom and other adult relatives long ago during our childhood. For all I know, you might have heard it broadcasted in your household as well.

While on similar situations, you might have heard smart alecks shooting back “what’s the connection” or “are they coming for dinner too”, in this particular time, it was thankfully not the case. Dutifully, the children at the table of the mall dining area we were in complied without a word. Relieved as I was, I thought, that was that.

The gentle suggestion alone, that we should all clean our “pinagkanan” during meals must be like one magical command indeed. Imagine, instilling in young minds that food wastage has a direct effect on starving people everywhere and then to repeat it like mantra over and over through the years, wouldn’t that be enough to input a bit of discipline (or compassion and if not, just plain table etiquette) in all growing children who might have heard it? Perhaps this is why I cringe a little sometimes whenever I spy unfinished food in plates during some gatherings. Deep inside, I’m still the obedient child till the end.

While ‘finish your plate’ may be a good startup lesson overall for kids anywhere, some other suggestions aimed at them, especially when coming out of adult’s mouths, are definitely not. I remember one incident inside a jeepney. A little child sitting on his mom’s lap was having a crying fit. The mom, in a fit of desperation and reacting as though in auto mode instantly pointed me out to the bawling boy, “look, that guy will take you away if you don’t stop!” Huh?

We always laugh about this. My mate insists I’m always the favorite culprit because I scowl a lot and I look like a goon. However, I shoot back that many times, I have witnessed it done to others as well. “Stop crying, look at that policeman… or worse, that monster might hear you”. That sort of thing.

Alas, I have noticed nowadays that whenever scaredy tactics fail in some instances, there is always a second option. While resting in one of the few benches at SM Lanang last Sunday, a couple with a baby and a boy of two came along and sat with me. Almost immediately, the boy darted away, to be later goaded back to our bench by the dad. He merely took out from his pocket a cell phone and handed it to the boy. Almost immediately, the little guy sat on the floor right there, smiled impishly and opened his favorite app. As the old meme goes, children these days can easily operate complicated computerized gadgets, during our time, we either ate mud or our boogers.


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