Moving up

By Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo April 21,2017


The twins, Nicholas and Antoinette, are participating in a moving-up ceremony come Monday after nine long months of attending day care in our barangay (village).

When I enrolled them last July, a few weeks after our return to Cebu, I was filled with excitement that my firstborns will be carrying backpacks and making friends outside of our home.

I bought Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse backpacks and school supplies found on the list the teacher handed to me. I even bought extra crayon sets “just in case.” It’s safe to say that I was more excited than them.

Their first day in school was not as smooth as I expected it to be. They refused to get inside the classroom and wanted me to stay beside them.

They became the type of kid that I wasn’t when I was their age as noted by my mother, who described me as well behaved and serious with schoolwork even as a two-year-old girl.

The excitement flew out of the window and was replaced by frustration and disappointment.

For the first three months of school, I spent every single class day bringing them to class, waiting for two hours and then bringing them back home.

Oh the screams and the cries. They were more than enough to break anyone’s eardrum.

Then came the responsibility of interacting with other mothers for a cultural presentation, for classroom improvement, for feeding program tasks, for sweeping schedules.

Note that the school is a barangay day care center that has since been renamed as an Early Childhood Care Development Center (ECCD) with the name of the barangay placed before “ECCD”

This means that most children enrolled in the school come from low-income families. There are middle-income ones in the mix, but they constitute about three to four percent of the population.

Money problems and marital issues were common topics discussed in the two-hour wait.

I avoided interaction for two weeks, but my extrovert self gave in and developed happy relationships with quite a couple of them.
Ingrid has three children whose husband is a lechonero.

Line is the entrepreneurial mother who sells processed meat to augment family income.

Rela is married to an overseas Filipino worker.

Gingging and Grace are sisters-in-law; and their sons, Keishi and Zian, are classmates. Analyn raises pigs but could not quite figure out how much to sell them for after three months.

Emma is a young mother to a boy named Robbie while Shelma married and gave birth in her late 30s.

Nanay Helen is the nanny of Adrian.

Wendy used to work as a security guard until she had three girls and needed to focus on managing their home. Alma is the fashionista and Mimi is the business guru.

I accepted invitations to visit their homes and partake of the feasts they prepared.

I danced with them during the Buwan ng Wika cultural presentation.

I spent hundreds of hours with them figuring out serious issues such as how to keep our children safe and mundane topics such as which morning snack tastes better (banana cue or kuchinta).

I’ve shared with them my thoughts about the school’s practice in giving out oral and written examinations when the children are only three/four years old.

I’ve reprimanded a couple of helicopter parents who, during exams, would answer their children’s paper.

In the twins’ case, I let them answer on their own so Antoinette always ends up coloring test papers and Nicholas is often seen pointing at pictures and naming them.

It has been a good run.

I don’t agree to a couple of teaching methods. But as a self-proclaimed educator/teacher, who spent two years learning how to activate schema and write literature-based lesson plans, I commend Ma’am Lorna Pitogo for steering the wheel in a class of 30 children.

It’s no easy feat to keep both parents and children happy.

Ma’am Lorna begins each day with a prayer and enriches classes with songs and dances. The songs and dances helped my twins become interactive to fellow children and responsive to questions asked by adults.

They will leave the San Vicente ECCD Center equipped with improved social skills and updated Bisaya language capabilities.

As for me, I’m leaving the school with memories of mornings spent planning our costumes, those mornings spent peeling sayote to make chicken soup, those mornings spent wondering when the school year is going to end.

On Monday, that chapter will be officially closed.

Now on to another adventure!

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