Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Essay: Tintin’s first Christmas as teen

Tintin at home ... stewing on Facebook and chat.


CHRISTMAS 2013 would be my daughter Tintin’s first as a teen-ager, a world very much separate from the child in her that she shed towards the end of last October.

This was when she turned 13.

There was a class Christmas party yesterday, Sunday, December 22, for which each of them was asked to bleed P1,000 as contribution.

But my daughter has learned the value of P1,000 – she knew what it could buy, especially for her. It could rather go to a piggy bank that she hides somewhere in the house.

She told me that she had opted not to join although she knew that doing so would mean missing her five class buddies.

But then, she learned of late that they were not coming too, for their parents had balked at the amount of the contribution.

To Tintin’s mommy, Ann, and the rest of the parents of kids in her Grade 7 class at the Baguio City National High School (BCNHS), education in this institution has been getting costlier week after week.

Tintin’s contributions/donations from a complete set of LPG cooking stove (for the classroom Home Economics subject, daw!) to the bookshelf and plastic rubbish bins, for instance, dropped like Baguio pine tree cones alongside the weekly class projects they have to spend for and submit to keep up with class requirements.

They have been a big drain on the family’s monthly budget, since they would come by surprise, but not really.

 With Mom for lunch at a favorite eatery along Session Road, Baguio City.

For instance, in a recent field trip to Banawe Rice Terraces, my daughter paid at least P4,000 for the whole day tour, which was followed by another the following week -- a day-long field trip to Metro Manila -- making her cough a further P4,000.

Her mommy asked the class adviser why Tintin could not excuse herself from these two trips, especially the Metro Manila journey, since she had seen those favorite field-trip destinations a number of times being a lowlander herself before relocating to Baguio City last April, and she was told: Christine Mhiles is the class leader, so she has to be there to coordinate her classmates.


But I could not allow her to go alone in those two trips, so mommy had to escort her, making me bled a total of P16,000 (!) in just two weeks.

So, my daughter opted to miss the class Christmas party.

She couldn’t care less, however.

That moment, her mind was focused on another thing: she and her mommy came down the mountain city yesterday, Sunday, December 22, to spend Christmas with her lola and cousins – the Hernandez family – in Pasig City.

Tintin’s quite excited to see once again her newfound friends – Trisha and Elaine, my nephew – who are her peers. The three of them are tuned in to the save wavelength.

I could just imagine how they would be after seeing one another again following an eight-month separation.

This troika met one another for the first time about two years ago and became quite close last summer when Tintin spent the school vacation at home with her lola (my mother).

Just like Tintin who only sees me once a year owing to my job here in Papua New Guinea, Trisha, 14, and Elaine, 12, do see their mommies for about a month every year.

Trisha’s mom works in Singapore, while Elaine’s mama is in Oman and her dad in Saudi Arabia.

Left: Tintin’s buddies in Pasig: Fourteen-year-old Trisha (5’4”) and  12-year-old Elaine (5’,2 1/2”)

The truth is Tintin does not like Baguio.

While she has quickly adjusted herself to the chill of the city, wearing shorts even at night and taking a bath in just lukewarm water, and to the frequency of afternoon showers, she felt being cooped up at home for most of the time.

Baguio, just like the crowded cities in Metro Manila, has become a place no longer safe for young teens like her.

Weekends meant being confined at home, with no friends to spend time with, unless her mom decides to shop and tag her along.

Otherwise, she would spend her weekends doing school work, browsing her Facebook Timeline and to chat with network friends. When boredom sets in, she would turn to TV.

She told me some time ago that she wanted to go back to Pampanga where her mom came from and to pursue her schooling there next school year.

“Kahit ho sa public (school) lang, okay ho sa akin, daddy, basta gusto ko talaga sa Pampanga na kasama ko si mommy,” she said.

Here, she reasons out, she is free to go out with her cousins on weekends without worrying much about the dangers that lurk in Baguio City or in Metro Manila.

As father, I would have to weigh this.

I don’t want to see my daughter stewing at home on online chats and teleserye, especially on weekends.

For all you know, being with friends, seeing and touching the world outside her window, is also a way to get an education.

What do you say?

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