Lolo Papa gave Elise a mobile phone before we left Manila.
He insisted to get her one so she could greet him "Good morning" everyday and so they could both keep in touch with each other as often as they want. Whenever we would sleep over at their house, she would gently knock on his door in the mornings and would happily greet him. This acknowledgment gave him so much joy and comfort. He helped her build her contact list and requested that she call him "G.P." for Grandpa in texts instead of Lolo Papa because it sounded better to his ears.
I was about to protest against giving her a phone because of all the potential trouble that it can sometimes cause. But Lolo Papa simply said,"Just give her rules, brief her of the dangers and let her have responsibility for taking care of it." Then he added,"You have to inspire them."
He also knew that having a phone would ease her forthcoming homesickness by making her loved ones only a text or a call away. Now, Elise texts and calls her titas and lolos and lolas whenever there is a special occasion. She has taken it upon herself to bring them news like when she learned how to bike, to swim and to snorkel! They call her when they miss her and she feels missed and loved and very special.
Last month, she met Father Jim, a visiting priest. He chatted with her for a while and she mentioned that she wants to be a chemist when she grows up. Now, Father Jim happens to be a Chemical Engineering graduate and he was quite happy to hear this. He started to reminisce about his high school days when he would play pranks on his friends by concocting mixtures that would make things explode. Elise was very impressed, and then Father Jim ended by saying,"You should make yourself a crystal garden." Then he turned to me and said,"Get her a chemistry set. If you can't find one, make her one."
We still have to shop around for flasks and test tubes and perhaps a bunsen burner. And we still have to get different kinds of salts for her crystal garden. At least Father Jim did not tell me to get some sulfuric acid to help her make a small bomb. But suffice it to say that she has been talking about being a chemist almost everyday. A few days ago, she said she really wants to discover a cure for cancer and dengue.... a biochemist...
I never used to let her touch my laptop for fear of it breaking - perhaps by vigorous tapping. I used to always worry that she might accidentally delete something or stumble upon some inappropriate stuff on the net while she is surfing for some Strawberry Shortcake videos.
But Rene said,"Let her learn. Just look over her shoulder. She needs to be resourceful and discover stuff on her own." I've since loosened up and let her explore in Glubble, where parents can regulate their kids' internet use. She is also doing her book report on Microsoft Word. We plan to do a family newsletter soon on Microsoft Publisher because there is so much to tell.
The other night, we both watched Episode 1 of Voltes V on You Tube. Then for her bedtime story, Rene had her hanging on to his every word as he narrated to her the whole saga till the last episode! And lately, she and Rene have been practicing the "butterfly return" for some serious combat!
It's never ending. We are constantly watching their little interests grow bigger. Some go away. But the ones that warm them inside and make them feel valued stay with them. And the ones that inspire them are the ones they pursue.