Sunday, May 15, 2005

small school and a double deck bed

Nikki and I are enrolling Sage into Small School (as opposed to Big School when she gets older) on Monday. I realize that a part of me was unconsciously holding off on taking this step because it underscores the fact that the passage of time is inevitable.*

It moves in uneven spurts, sometimes so deliciously slow, sometimes unbearably fast.
I recall the time we found out we were pregnant while living in Hong Kong; deciding to move back to Manila to be closer to family; watching my wife change shape while maintaining her cool composure during the nine months that followed; jumping into the unfamiliar waters of a new vocabulary: layette, formula, fatherhood; Sage’s deliberate debut, on her own time, damn the doctor’s schedule; sleepless nights, wondering if the little baby has stopped breathing; fearing I would accidentally crush her during the times I slept with her by my side; and then the helpless inertia of weeks and months when everything blurred like time-lapse photography: coming home to see her sit up unsupported; watching her crawl in circles like a novice dervish still uncertain how to whirl; catching her first words like the arrival of long-awaited rain, no longer a stranger to the language of man; then standing and running and jumping and shouting and laughing and asking questions only fathers, with learned conviction, can possibly answer.

And now she’s going to school.

I feel so proud, as if the achievement of beginning education outside our home was mine, and yet I am also gripped by this odd sense of loss which transforms into a peculiar sense of nostalgia. There were so many first times with Sage, and more to come, true – and I know that this is just another step in the long series of goodbyes that she needs to undertake on the road to becoming who she ultimately decides to be. I’m a little sad, feeling a bit foolish, caught in a drama of own devising, but I can’t help it.

There are things your parents say or do that, as a child growing up, you find incomprehensible. It’s only when you have a child yourself that you undergo a series of epiphanies, some unpalatable, some slap-your-forehead-in-amazement-true, that prove them somewhat right all along (and the issue then becomes a matter of implementation, rather than the logic behind the word or deed).

All these feelings are magnified by our purchase of the two-tiered bed Sage wanted. Her insistence on henceforth sleeping on the top level, her determination to negotiate the ladder without assistance, her repeated assurances to us that she will not roll off and fall – she’s growing up, and she’s learning to take care of herself.

I honestly fear the day, years later, when she finally outgrows me, in the sad and quiet way that parents cease to be of primary importance to their children. I just have to adjust, like every other father who has ever thought like this, and maybe take up golf.

Or something.

* Plus, the cost of the Small School is astonishing – in our case, just under P75k a year. That’s more than my entire college matriculation at UP. I feel like we’re sending Sage to pre-med instead of preschool. And we will be doing this for at least eighteen more years (nursery, kindergarten, prep, primary school, secondary school and university). No wonder my mother would be so upset whenever I’d feign illness or just cut entire days of college classes to surreptitiously perform questionable acts with trusting girlfriends (haha).


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