23 March 2007

A worried son as school year winds down

LAST NIGHT, Lynn and I were intently watching The Holiday, one of those feel-good romantic comedies that we always have a soft spot for. Technical troubles notwithstanding, arising mainly from its DivX format that my player has trouble rendering -- like dialogs being left behind by the visuals -- we managed to finish it around 30 minutes longer than usual.

My son Jack Ryan aka Budi was another source of distraction. When the movie started getting interesting -- especially when Amanda (Cameron Diaz) suddenly discovered that the man-about-town Graham (Jude Law) she is falling for is actually a single parent of two wonderful girls -- Budi was assiduously engaging her mother in a serious conversation about his probable end-of-term ranking. There were instances that their chatter was actually getting under my skin.

But looking back at it now, I started to feel sorry that I acted that way, and sorrier that I did not do more to assuage Budi's worries. My son -- a Grade V student at Grandview Elementary who is vigorously competitive in most everything unlike his elder brother Ezekiel who has taken an increasingly lackadaisical attitude towards his 2nd year studies -- fears his efforts to do better will probably come to naught. His main concern is losing ground in extracurricular points, owing to faith-imposed limitations, to his classmates who are freer to pretty much do what needs to be done.

On the way home yesterday, I passed by parents and children proudly marching at the Pacol Elementary grounds, where EK graduated on top his class two years back. And that is the benchmark that Budi also wants to equal. How time really flies! Recognition events are starting to take place left and right in the city. I became so immersed into my own professional challenges that I failed to realize that the current school year -- insofar as the public schools in Naga are concerned -- is ending pretty soon.

Over breakfast this morning, I made up to Budi by assuring him that we are happy with the efforts he exerted towards his goal this year; whatever the final outcomes will be, we will always be on his side. The challenge, as always, is to do better the next time around: he will have to redouble his efforts more consistently, reduce the time he spends on the Playstation 2 machine and gallivanting with his friends from Pacol Urban, and commit to creating a wide enough margin in academics that extracurricular points will not easily overcome.

Sometimes I wish that Ezekiel will regain the fierce competitive spirit that Budi has, because I know he can be among the best if he wants to. But everytime I wake up very early in the morning to get him ready for school, and then wake him up from sleep so that we can be at Cam High before 6am, I can sense that he -- and that lanky frame of his -- finds no joy out of this punishing routine. So I always end up wishing differently: maybe this is all for the better.

So that my children will enjoy school and the unique experience it brings, which I mostly did not had: because I chose to join the exhausting, feverish rat race instead of enjoying the view and smelling the flowers on my journey through youth.


dave (",) said...

I wonder what could those faith-imposed limitations be. Extra-curricular activities are an important part of school. These could get you awards--and a job. In my college experience most especially, what I gained from them stands out more than what I learned in the classroom.

Dominique said...

Creativity springs from limitations.

It's good to see such a young fellow taking his work to heart. Not too many of those around nowadays.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Dave: As Jehovah's Witnesses, we don't join Boy Scouting and the school student governments. The lost points caused Budi to drop in the honors roll, although his teachers said that academically, he is good for second place.

He joined the other extra-curricular activities, though, like the Press Conference, the Metrobank Math Contest, etc.

Dom: I told Budi what you said, and his face brightened up. But yesterday, when his Lola from Pili told him he'll still be getting what she originally promised him -- a toy, I think -- in spite of what happened, he jumped up and down.

But it was not like your new Wii.:)