So, the recess bell rings, you hop out of your chair, looking forward to just messing with your high school friends who were all looking down to check on their FB and Instagram likes and posts. You all head to your gymnasium cafeteria spotting a table.
Everyone except you was excited to unwrap their lunch sandwiches.
For hungry teenagers, anything that smells alright is gourmet.
The Adobo Aroma
You slowly take out your baon (take away food for school or work), hoping no one else will see, that instead of the splendid sandwich that everyone has, you have rice instead.
You almost got away from the visual attention, but the scent of your adobo was the giveaway.
Everyone starts peering into your exposed Tupperware asking, “What’s that ?” Your friends were not trying to be mean though but just curious.
But for you, this makes you feel different but not in a good way. And for every time someone asks you a question that makes you feel like you’re from outer space, the harder you feel you must work on being just like anyone else if not cooler.
You ask yourself, why can’t I just have PB sandwich for baon like other normal kids do?
You were convinced that that night was the evening you will brave out your protest to your mom with the picket sign, “No more rice for baon!”
The Silent Picket
At dinner, you made an extra effort to laugh at your folks’ jokes, answer their usual question of, “so, what did you do today?” with a bit more gusto even lavishing it with sprinkles of details to their fancy. On most days, you act annoyed, responding, “school of course,” because they made it sound like you didn’t do anything.
The question was meant to question you and not to really ask you a question. But, tonight was different. You’ve built the confidence to express yourself.
As you were helping your parents clean up the kitchen, your mom laments about her co-workers at the post office- How they don’t do their job, leaving her to do theirs. She went on to talk about her lazy supervisor and how he sits all day. You noticed your mom getting more upset while your dad adds fire to her fury-his best expression of being supportive. You were about to open your mouth and do your spill when your mom started to grab the infamous Tupperware, quickly filled it with rice while she voices out her struggle and frustrations with work. You close your mouth and swallowed a big gulp.
The night is young but your hope of ever expressing yourself is getting old.
You woke up with the clever idea- aha! If you get up early enough you can make your own PB sandwich, sneak it in your backpack while still taking your rice baon to school! You won’t make mom feel bad and it’ll make you look like a legit, normal, American kid.
At home, you eat rice with mom’s cooking like you haven’t been fed for days. You love rice. This is a fact. Your preference for PB sandwich at school had nothing to do with your love affair with rice or your loyalty to mom and her Pinay heritage.
Our Children’s Struggle
You think your kids don’t understand your struggle to live the American life, so you remind them with stories of your sacrifices, your pains, and losses. Indeed, our stories are important. We should keep telling them but not to contain our children to our expectations but to expand their worldviews to the unlimited dimensions life has to offer them.
Acknowledging their Struggle Does Not Diminish Ours.
Our American kids DO understand. They know better not to ask you to stop making their baon as they watch you prepare it lovingly for many years. Their struggle at school to fit in and be more American would’ve been easier if they just told you to stop making their rice baon.
But they didn’t.
Instead, they consume and express themselves differently the moment the step out of the home. And, then, quiet themselves just a bit, once a reunion with you is nearly a mile away. Yes, it’s true, our children have bigger mouths, sounding like their ready to battle out an argument each time you asked them to clean up after themselves.
Still, this is their quieter side.
They eat rice at home and sandwiches outside.
May we allow them to consume both with the absence of guilt or that they had to choose between two worlds.
Believe them when they tell you that PB sandwiches are alright and make their school days easier and bright.
And yes, believe them most of all when they tell you-
No one else makes adobo like you do.
Thank you for lending me your ear. I am grateful for our time shared together.
Please subscribe if you haven’t yet and show some love by liking and sharing this heart-crafted post.