7/16/2017
How to adult

Like most six-year-olds I played in the street outside my home in the afternoon. But even at a young age I always adhered to some sort of schedule. Go out to play at four; any time before that is too early. Go back in the house at half past five; any time after that is too late.

When the skies are clear enough we'd see airplane fly above us. We don't live near the airport, but we're close enough for airplanes to pass us below the usual 36,000 feet.

When that happens, I point to the sky and wave at the passing aircraft.

"Johayna! Johayna!"

She was a classmate of mine in elementary school, and, at the time, was my designated crush. (This started when I was in prep, and ended by the time I reached second grade. I had moved on to someone else.) I don't know why she had to be on a plane, but I nonetheless would point at the sky and wave at a passing plane, imagining that my crush is up there, and she can see me waving at her, and she would wave back at me. Somehow I never told her about this in the classroom.

Other times I would call for my father. "Daddy! Daddy!" I would shout, still pointing at a passing plane and waving.

My dad never worked for aviation. By this time he had yet to fly abroad for work. Yet I always imagined that, whenever he leaves for work in the morning, he spends a lot of time in airplanes, and then lands just in time to be home at eight in the evening. Again, I always adhered to some sort of schedule.

As a six-year-old, the things my parents did seemed straightforward. My father went to work; my mother took care of the home. You might frown at how patriarchal this all sounds like, but then, we were just approaching the middle of the 1990s, and this is the Philippines, a country where anything vaguely progressive is still seen as destroying whatever shared values we supposedly have. But that's not the point I'm going to make.

As a kid I had the chance to visit my father's workplace, especially when he had to work on Saturdays. The office is empty, and I could not do much. Don't open this drawer, don't enter that room. This office was near the airport - it's a logistics company - and while he crunched numbers, his colleagues would bring me to lunch. It was a rainy day, and we were going to a nearby Wendy's - this was a time when there were fewer malls, and the malls that were there were not all SM. One would show me a photo of her newborn. She named him Casper because he was so white, like, well, the friendly ghost.

At home, I only knew my mother cooked meals and cleaned the house and did the chores. (Again, I am not making a gender-related point here.) This was the depth of what I knew my parents did. After all, I was busy having crushes in school and playing outside, between four and half past five, and no longer than that.

Of course, now, we know there are much more things going on. You grow up and hear more about these things you should be doing, for your future - or for your present, knowing how stifling and stressful government bureaucracy can be. You realize how many decisions you have to make until you have to make them. The result is a bunch of twentysomethings constantly tweeting about how hard it is to "adult", demanding they be celebrated when they have successfully done some "adulting". You know, these kids and their tendency to turn nouns into verbs and adjectives, way faster than the realm of language's natural evolution.

An exception, of course, are those who have had to make those decisions while very young, those who have had to act like an adult early on. Everybody else, like me, are sheltered and whiny.

And your responses...

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