Coffee-coated Teaspoon

Sometimes, something happens because it is for the best. However, often, things happen because the universe is telling you something.

This morning, I prepared my coffee but got distracted before I could add the milk. Lukewarm coffee later, ADD me did not have my hot beverage for the morning yet. I thought I could drink it if I just put a drop of milk instead of the usual. It was way too cold and definitely not going to work! I poured the offending coffee on to the sink and proceeded to rinse my mug and teaspoon.

I dried the mug a bit and I thought that I did the same with the teaspoon. Absent-minded, scatter-brain me did not and I was left with a coffee granules-coated teaspoon that must still be used for sugar. That was not going to work for me! I went back to the sink and gave the cutlery a good shower. You would think that a hell of a lot of running water from the tap would leave no sign of coffee on the darned silverware. Not completely. How on earth was that possible?

I realized that no amount of gushing water will clean the teaspoon if the water wasn’t falling on the right spot.

Since my son qualified to go to University I had the idea that he could be the child who would follow my footsteps and study at De La Salle University (main campus on Taft Avenue in Manila). It isn’t that I am some hotshot whose La Salle education has made me the huge success that I am. I am not a huge success. I am far from that. (I can hear my friend Anthony asking on what or whose standards would be the basis of my statement…) It’s not Cambridge or Harvard after all, not even close. But it is my De La Salle and I know that my La Salle education has helped shape me a bit, smooth the rough edges. Of course the roughness still comes out every now and then. The point is that my four years in La Salle were some of the better years of my life. I made friends, best friends actually, and I’m sure that I learned self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love and all sorts of self-stuff. It may sound superficial but I still have the friends and the belief in myself is still there so it’s really more long-lasting and eternal than the temporary first glance. (Although that can be my Landmark Forum in 2003, too.) So yes, I wanted my son to have the same.

Things happened and the dream came to a halt. I almost disowned my son and my mother practically pleaded with me to look past the offence. The whole La Salle plan didn’t automatically re-start after the forgiveness. Time was required to forget and convince me that it was safe to proceed. My dream was stronger than anything else and the dream was soon back on track.

However, I didn’t realize that perhaps there was more to this speed bump.

Like Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb, I’d like to give you a back story before I go on. (I may have mentioned this – or similar – on a previous post, e.g. Dear Family, Motherhood and an election.)

Although 100% Filipino and born in the Philippines, I have lived more than half of my life in Africa. Further introspection tells me that I don’t quite fit in “back home”. I had a very awkward childhood and a huge inferiority complex. There is not much of my young life in the Philippines that I keep close to my heart. What I talk about are my last 5 years, from age 16 to 21.

Not that I was not in Africa by choice… but that’s back story for another time.

Africa (South Africa) may just be that blessing in disguise for me and I have just always refused to see it as that. It could be that it’s the place where I belong, where I could be different and feel good about being different. My Body Talk practitioner in 2009 picked up that as a child, I had wanted so badly to be part of the circle but that I eventually gave up and instead worked hard to be different and consequently stand out. Whether I finally belonged or not, I felt good about it. I did not only accept my uniqueness but also celebrated it. I felt better as an Asian-looking South African in South Africa.

For as long as I can remember, my life has been about proving myself worthy, maybe because I was different. I learned during my preparation for my Landmark Forum workshop that I suffered from the feeling of inadequacy. Sadly, much of my life reinforced this internal demon even more. I felt inadequate as a child back home and when proving myself worthy by being an honor pupil/student wasn’t enough, I was left with either running away or being the exact opposite of one who fits in, which is really running away in a different clothing, if I were to look at it in the negative way as opposed to how it was described during my Body Talk session.

Why I thought that my son would adjust to the Philippines sounds absurd to me now. I couldn’t even blend in and I look Filipino, speak Filipino and is in fact pure-blooded Filipino.

But I have a dream and my dream must be come true!

In a rush, for there were exams to write and admissions timetable to follow, the extremely delayed reporting of his birth was completed. My children’s births were not reported immediately like a true Filipino because I actually emotionally ran away from being that. (I even lost my citizenship and had to reacquire it before I could attend to my children’s report of birth. This is the same reason why my son is 99% South African and 1% Filipino, despite the Filipino blood being 50%.)

We took a trip to the Philippines. My son was being prepared for his new future… or maybe not. I may have thought of it as Dimension Data (DD); you are forced to swim or else you’ll drown (or at least, the old DD to which I was exposed in 1999/2000 when I worked there) so we left him in Metro Manila and expected him to free-stroke his way to a college education. From South Africa, I took the time to communicate with those who are helping him get things done, making things happen from my side of the world, expecting him to lovingly soak in his new home.

Time and energy expended, monies spent with more planned to be spent over the next four years, and favors received, everything is ready!

Not again! Misunderstandings. Frustration. Annoyance. The blame game.

Exceedingly upsetting is an understatement.

Tonight, he said that he wanted me to be happy (and his going to La Salle would make me happy) but that frustration has hounded him. He had wanted for a while already to just give up and come back home to Africa. He did not want to disappoint me though.

I had lost it earlier in the evening. The frustration was building up from my side as well.

Hysteria and flood of tears later (from me), when the decision to forget about the whole Philippines debacle was made (from my son), I realized that my teaspoon this morning was talking to me.

A lot of water can still leave a teaspoon a little dirty if the running water does not hit the right spot as much as a tremendous amount of time, energy and money will not be entirely fruitful if channeled to the wrong cause. My efforts were not directed towards the appropriate target.

And maybe if I just rubbed the part that I wanted to clean, the teaspoon would have been completely spotless.

Like love and care, perhaps…

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