Outside my rented room one afternoon, I could hear neighborhood children playing ‘bahay- bahayan’. They woke me up by their loud voices. One was telling the others that she was the mother and was claiming that the rest of the playmates were her children. When I went outside to tell them to stop shouting and playing because I was sleeping, I came to a stop and didn’t say anything when I saw them playing with imaginary toys. They were only playing with their hands assuming they were carrying the plate toys and all. I left them alone, went back to my room and remembered my childhood days.
I didn’t have my freedom at all as a child. Sometimes, my younger sister and I would even laugh about it when we start talking about the old days. I remember when our mom would take us to the malls for her to buy us clothes, we would ask her to buy us dolls and other toys. It wasn’t a problem. Then, we were seen with the toys in our hands. The problem was she wouldn’t let us play them by the time we reached home. She had them displayed in the drawers, untouched. When she’s around, we would look at them over a glass shield while putting our hands flat in the glass, hoping we could play on them. When she was at work and father was there, he would open them for us and put them back to where they were placed when mom is on her way home. Surprisingly, he knows the timings of when she’s supposed to be back but when she comes home early and sees her approaching the gate, he’d tell us to quickly clean up and locks the toys again. Or if there was no time, he’d leave us to mom’s rants.
When school started and we were in our grandmother’s house, we took advantage of mom’s absence. After school, we were found in the garden playing with the leaves and flowers but when grandma and mom unexpectedly arrived, we were hated. Mom hated us for playing with dirt because we were mixing the leaves and the flowers with the soil and grandma hated us for losing her plants.
At home, we had a spacious lawn covered with bermuda grass. It would have been a perfect playground. We could run, lie down or feel the grasses stick on our clothes and skin. But she kept us inside the house so we were only seen through the windows looking outside, like a man behind bars. We wished we could play like other children do and hoped we could catch dragonflies.
One time, I had a bicycle. That was the easiest thing to learn because it had three wheels. But then, most of the time, mom didn’t want me driving it because she was afraid of me getting crashed and wounded.
It was either we couldn’t play at all or we could with limitations. I envy those who have very good childhood memories. On weekends, I know some mothers would change play clothes for their children, send them outdoor and tell them to play outside until dinnertime. It is then up for their children to entertain themselves. They are free to explore their backyard, go to a neighborhood friend, climb trees or ride bikes.
I missed hours of unsupervised play. It did not instill in me a sense of adventure. My own sense of adventure only surfaced when I started my later stages of worklife. It started by a little push from others to get me out of the door. Sometimes, it was a kick- start. Along the way, I met other like- minded adventurous individuals. We were constantly planning our next trip. There was always some uncertainty about the next destination, but it was exciting all the same. Everything always seemed to work out in the end. Until I already have the adventure in my heart.
Through the years, I have learned that it’s a good thing to shake your life up every once in a while. It doesn’t mean I have to climb Mt. Everest. That’s something that most of us will never experience, because it requires a combination of stamina and a willingness to die. No thanks. But being adventurous does involve a willingness to take the risks that come with trying something new. It can be expressed as simply as the everyday lesson I learned growing up: Go outside and play.
And now I’m most thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to travel places I didn’t imagine going as a little kid. Mom may have had her own reasons of not allowing us to play in the garden or even inside our house but now as a grown-up woman and with her watching over me as God’s instrument, she gave me the chance to realize my dreams in life and travel the world.