Taking a break with the birthday boys | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

ADRIANA with her new friends
ADRIANA with her new friends

Every week, after my husband reads my column, he asks me the same question: “When are you going to change your column picture?” He then talks about putting a more “recent” shot of our son, Juanmi. Now this “recent” bit really puzzles me, because when I look at the photo, I don’t see any difference between how he looks in it and how he looks in real life.

When I look at him, I still see (oh, he’ll hate me for this 16 years from now) my little macho marshmallow with the rock-star spiky hair. He’s still a little baby boy who can give me a look that melts my heart, and puts a goofy grin on my face.

Having your baby boy smile at you is like being back in high school and having your crush wave at you. You get kilig to the bones with no expectations, issues or problems. You’re just happy he noticed you.

But I suppose he does have a point. Recently, I began to notice some things. Gone are the days of carrying him around all day and hearing him say “Ah-Ah!” as he points to whatever he wants. Now, he runs around in permanent fast-forward mode, and the words are rolling out of his mouth, clumsily but definitely.

And the final blow (pardon the pun)—the two candles shining brightly on his birthday cake. It’s official. My baby is now a toddler.

For his second birthday, I thought of inviting some of his pals and cousins over to the house for some cake and clowns, but couldn’t figure out how, since Miguel wanted us to go home to Bukidnon. Their birthdays are two days apart, and he wanted to celebrate his special day out of town. As we were making plans for our trip, Migs came up with the idea of letting Juanmi celebrate his birthday in Bukidnon, as well.

OUCH! Biting ostrich

And then he said, “I’ll plan everything!” Wow, that was music to my ears. Done! So off we flew  for several days of family bonding, rest and relaxation. We spent the first day, which happened to be Migs’ actual birthday, enjoying the fresh air, mountains and horses.

Actually, they enjoyed the horses. I have a bit of a phobia from a fall over 10 years ago. But what can you do when your daughter asks you to ride with her? That was the end of that fear. Suddenly I felt a pair of little arms encircle my waist, and there behind me appeared my other fearless rider, who refused to be left behind.

Choo-choo train on a pony

Obviously there was no galloping, with three of us riding like a choo-choo train on a pony in slow motion, but I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed riding a horse as much as this!

The next day, we spent the morning flying kites in an open field, to the delight of the kids. It was a first for them, and though we spent some time untying and fixing tangled strings, it was a definite highlight of the weekend.

Before lunch, we headed off to Miguel’s animal rescue center, where he had invited the children from our barangay to help us celebrate. When we got there, we realized that all the kids had shown up—together with their cousins and friends from the other barangays!

It was great seeing so many children laughing and enjoying the day. More children present made the whole thing even more fun and festive. I don’t think I ever saw Adriana as thrilled as she was that day to have so many new playmates and friends.

HORSEBACK riding with my two not-so-little babies

Some of the kids even prepared a taekwondo exhibition-dance for everyone to see, with matching kicks and breaking of boards. My two little ones watched in open-mouthed awe. Now I can only hope they won’t try those stunts on each other!

The famous happy bee was on hand to provide food and entertainment for everyone, which was a treat for me as well. I hadn’t had this kind of party since I was about five years old, when their spaghetti was both my favorite character and food!

They have new characters now, including a girl in pink and purple with an ice cream twirl on her head. While Juanmi immediately gravitated to the bee, Adriana was fascinated with the girly mascot. Despite my worries that something would go wrong or that not everything may have been prepared, things went smoothly, and before I knew it, the party was about to wrap up. But not before the host asked if my two little ones wanted to sing or dance for their guests.

My daughter has been acting a little shy lately, so I didn’t expect her to do anything, but my son was all set! As soon as the music started, my little man was on his feet, grooving to the beat with his own style. Surprise, surprise, his ate joined in as well upon seeing her brother having so much fun.

With the party over, it was time for the kids and their parents to explore the park and see the different donated and rescued animals, as well as those which had been bred in the facility. It was great fun for everyone as they fed the fish and laughed at the monkeys.

Nipped by the ostrich

My birthday boys stayed by the big animals and birds, including the ostrich that ended up nipping Migs’ hand, much to the delight of Juanmi. Adriana and her cousins kept their distance from the crocodile pens and stayed by the ducks and birds instead. Her favorites were the golden pheasant and macaws. Her cousin Rocio, on the other hand, stared at the swan, willing it to turn into a princess for us. We told her it only does so at night, when nobody is around, so that we could finally move on.

When at last we went back home, we were all exhausted, but the day had one more little surprise for my birthday boy and his sister. As night set, Migs excitedly called out to us and asked us to come out and look up at the trees, from which dozens of glowing fireflies were flying in and out.

They say fireflies only show up in places with truly clean and fresh air. I guess that means we won’t be seeing them when we get back home, so we took advantage and ran around excitedly trying to catch them. We managed to get our hands on a few of them, and in the dark, it was easy to pretend that they were Adriana’s beloved fairies.

We still have a few days to go, but the plan is to have no plan other than to have some old fashioned fun with the kids. However, by the time you read this, our mini-break will be over and we will be back in the big city.

Maybe I will take my husband’s advice and change the photo to something that actually captures how my kids look now. After all, I can’t keep my kids babies forever, and I may as well accept it.

Parenting seems to be the only kind of relationship that loves in order to later let go. When you talk about a marital relationship, you certainly don’t plan to eventually let go of your spouse to someone else!

But with kids, as much as we want to hold on to them, keep them away from all problems and dangers and never let them go, we know that we have to let them grow and spread their wings, if we truly love them.

So with this in mind, I promise I will finally change that profile photo. Maybe before Juanmi goes to college.

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