Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Family Files

He was vaccinated years ago against the clucking pesky pox but this just goes to show there's no guarantee against such diseases. Me, my notes were ready along with the folders for the chapter I'm working on. Plus, I had my bike, Goran Apache, all cleaned up and oiled and raring. It was time to visit the family haunt of Kala and I was planning on doing the sloping Bani to Bolinao to Anda route twice or thrice during the Holy Week in between writing, but no dice. Not this time.

The kids are staying home and so are their parents. Instead of romping on an isolated, quiet island, we'll be re-potting plants and installing lilies and tidying up desks and papers while filling up the cooler with rum and soda and beer and planning nothing and everything and wondering aloud whether there's really a reason for everything while the kids dig in and make do.

Luna -- she wants Bamboo Kamatis games, pastel crayons, tubes of paint and a kiddie pool as compensation for her sand-less penance. And Rio -- he wants more Game Game of the Generals board play, more puzzles, books and drawing paper. Unlike Luna, however, the big boy is going to have a children's version of Satur Ocampo's ordeal and he'll have to dig scores of mental trenches to prepare for his temporary house arrest. Surely, however, like Satur -- and hopefully Crispin Beltran -- he should be free too in no time.

Meantime, at least, everyone will have words to play with during this amusing chicken episode, which is something to look forward to, actually. Luna's terribly funny when she's funny, which is most of the time, and Rio's a funny one when he's serious.

Luna likes experimenting with gravity the most by standing and balancing on a chair's arm rest, skiing on wet floors, knocking down a vase or bottle here and there and falling from whichever bed while testing her grip on the bed sheet. Right now, she finds her mum's stationary bike funny, looking like an imp cycling furiously and then all of a sudden doing an X-gamers flip by holding the bike's grip and pedaling over and over with just one foot (it's really impressive, believe me). All the while she's laughing at her great feat.

Her brother, on the other hand, his humor's a little different. He loves bottom-dwelling slapstick and high vocabulary. All the words of Rio's eight years in this world count, and sometimes he does make me feel as if he is twenty years older than his age.

The other day, for instance, after his grandparents finally refurbished their old bathroom, Rio the Critic walked into the room and looked around and delivered his verdict: "The bathroom looks excellent Lola," said the serious boy with raised brows. "If you add a bathtub, it would be superb."

Rio gets into silly word fights and word games with Luna and they laugh and laugh till someone gets really plastered by a great joke and they end up giggling and wondering who started the exchange. Usually.

Rio loves his sister's words. One day Luna ends up really sad because she wants Molly Desia and no one can give it to her and the whole house spends the whole morning figuring out which doll she's talking about. Turns out she was talking about Mall of Asia. We get to the place by the afternoon and she's already looking for rideos (videos) and combip (corned beef) and stomes (stones) and for some reason wonders aloud during the long ride to the humongous place, "Tatay, I think we should use our brains. If lose our brains people will eat us because they think we're tocino (sweet meat)."

Here's funny wisdom. One day at the market Luna sees on display the different parts of the dead animals that we eat. Head, ribs, legs, innards. She gives a pull on her mum's hand and tells her, "Mama, that's the head of a pig. Why are we eating piggy? Piggy is good. We should eat lamok [mosquito] because lamok is bad."

When you try to talk to Luna seriously, she usually returns the favor. Rio and I were chatting the other day about his exams after Luna and I picked him up from school. Luna, of course, would rather that her boys talk about her and so she walks straight into the conversation and proclaims that she loves exams herself along with homework. So I asked her what she's been doing in school lately and what they've been talking about in class. She shouts "Opposites! Kahapon it was opposite day!" Unwittingly going on Gullible's Travels, I replied, "Hey! How interesting!" I ask her, "Ok, let's play a game on our way back to the house." Luna shouts with delight, "Yey! Sige! Sige!"

Tatay says: "Ok! Luna, can you tell me what is the opposite of cold?"

Luna: "Squid!"

Rio and me: "Wha!?" Five seconds pass.

Then Rio asks: "Luna, what is the opposite of tall?"

Luna: "Giant squid!"

Obviously, we just walked into her world. Fool that I am, I try again.

"Luna, you have a little plant in the garden di ba? Besides water, what else does a plant need to grow?"

Luna: "Uhm... Chewbaca!"

At this point, Rio just loses it and only stops laughing at his dad after twelve years.

Rio's a funny one too. His sister keeps playing all these games on everyone and one time she tried to taunt her brother by saying his brain was like water. "Blue ang brain mo!" to which Rio replied, "Orange ang brain mo!" then Luna shouts back "Yellow ang brain mo!" then Rio says "Brown ang brain mo, like pupu!" which only delights Luna who replies, "Pink ang brain mo!" and Rio uses his powers and says, "That's right, Luna. A normal human being's brain is pink. But your brain is indigo." Luna says, "Huh?" and Rio rolls his eyes and walks away smirking.

Another time Luna is playing with Kala and Luna tells her mama, "Didn't I come from you before, Mama? I was super small when I was a baby and didn't I come from you?" Then Rio Spoilsport wades in and says in a monotone voice, "Yes, Luna. You were in your mother's placenta and you were once attached to her umbilical cord."

The Kamuning Republic was supposed to have headed to Pangasinan last Sunday morning, but Rio got sick and he's quite pissed at his germs and looking glum on his second feverish day I asked him how he was doing and I think he thought, boy what a question, so he answered "well, the last few days I've been talking to Leukocytes and giving them pep talks and so on." I nodded seriously and smiled the brave comprehending smile while thinking to myself "What in tarnation is this boy talking about?" Then his mum comes in to help dumb daddy and explains "Your son's just talking about his white blood cells."


Man, I shoulda answered "Giant squid!" #


Photo of Kala and Red taken from the excellent Balai resort of Boy Siojo in Anilao, Batangas. It's a really great place, quiet and with a great cliffside view of the sea. Email Red if you're interested so he can patch you up with Boy's place.

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