Something is coming. I’m not sure what it is.
Dad had a big white bed set-up in our room last week. By “our”, I mean “their” room. I’m three and a half (THE HALF IS IMPORTANT!) years old and I don’t see why I need the pink room next to my Mommy’s. That room is exclusively for Chicklet, the green stuffed square that I play with. I sleep neatly between my parents every single night because it’s fun being on the giant bed that has water inside. Also, the big TV with all the channels is in their room. I need both Manang Bola (Channel 2) and Kermit The Frog (Channel 9) in my life.
What is a big white bed doing in the room? Something is coming.
“Malaki ka na ha. Hindi ka na baby.” (“You’re already big, you’re no longer a baby.”) Mom likes to repeat this to me every morning as she packs my snacks for school. I just started school, didn’t you hear? My teacher Miss Carol has curly hair. She told me that I was G-1. That means that I get to be the front of the line everyday. She makes us dance with the whole school every morning. I like school. School is fun. I’m the smallest kid in class and my classmates like to call me the “baby”. Why does my Mom call me ‘big’? I’m not big. Miss Carol lets me stand on a chair to get my book from the shelf. I’m not big. I’m small!
“Malaki ka na. Hindi ka na dapat iyak ng iyak.” (“You’re already big. You shouldn’t cry so much anymore.”) Yaya told me that yesterday, when she was cleaning up my busted knee. I tripped while playing patintero with the big kids outside. Why can’t I cry? My knee hurts and I can’t stand up. How will I ride my yellow tricycle now? The kids outside are big. I’m not big. I never catch anyone when they tell me I’m the patotot. I’m the smallest player. I’m always the smallest player.
“Malaki ka na. Konti nalang.” (“You’re already big.”) Dad stroked my hair and said nothing else last night. I was sucking on my bottle of Birch Tree powdered milk while he watched The World Tonight beside me. It’s 10pm. Maybe he’s sleepy. I’m small. I barely fit into my Hello Kitty car seat. I even bit a blue bulb (BLUE IS MY FAVORITE!) from my playmate’s Christmas Tree because I’m too little to understand. (Now I know, lightbulbs are not food!)
WHY DOES EVERYBODY KEEP SAYING THAT I’M BIG?
Tita Kim wakes me up for breakfast. “Kain na, lalamig ang hotdog.” (“Eat. The hotdog is getting cold.”)
I sit at the kitchen table with Tita Kim and Yaya. I love Tita Kim. She knows all the Debbie Gibson songs on the radio and she puts make-up on me so I can look like Isabel Granda. (Shhh! Daddy doesn’t know!) But where is Mommy? She’s supposed to show me how to color inside the lines today. Miss Carol said I wasn’t good at coloring inside the lines. And hey, why am I not in school? I’m supposed to be in school! SUSY AND GENO ARE COMING TO SCHOOL TODAY! I want a Sustagen toy!
“Asan si Mommy?” (“Where is Mommy?”)
“May baby na!” (“We already have a baby!”) Tita Kim is excited. She pointed to the rice on my plate. “Ubusin mo yan.” (“Finish that rice.”)
“Baby? Ako yung baby!” (“Baby, but I’m the baby.”) I eat the rice on my spoon. I’m so confused. Where is Mommy? Where is Daddy? I’m the baby! Wait, I want more hotdogs.
“Hindi ikaw, yung bago!” (“Not you, the new baby!”) Yaya is happy. What is a new baby? How do you get new babies? WHERE IS MOMMY!
I start to cry.
“Hay naku, hindi na pwede yan. Malaki ka na.” (“You can’t do that anymore. You’re already big.”) Tita Kim wipes my face.
I AM NOT BIG! I AM SMALL! I AM THE BABY!
I don’t know where Mommy and Daddy are. They left with the car and Yaya and Tita Kim are Mommy and Daddy right now. They keep telling me that I’m already big. I still don’t understand.
I’ve picked all the santan flowers in the garden and Mommy still isn’t here.
Something is coming. Something is coming. There are no more flowers. Something is coming.
Daddy is stroking my hair. DADDY IS HOME!
“Anak, gising na.” (“Child, wake up.”) He looks happy. I hug Daddy. I missed Daddy. What time is it? Why am I sleeping on Tita Kim’s bed? I’m missing Sesame Street.I get Daddy’s hand so he can scratch my head for me. I like it when they scratch my head.
“Asan si Mommy?” (“Where is Mommy?”) Why is everybody quiet? Where is Mommy? WHERE IS MY MOMMY!
“Anak, look.” (“Child, look.”) Mommy is right beside me! I’m sorry Mommy. I’m still sleepy. I didn’t notice. I hug Mommy.
Dad and Mom are pointing to my leg. What is going on? Why is everybody quiet?
Wait, what is that sound?
By my leg, a tiny mound moved up and down. Up and down. Up and down. I crawl to the spot to look at the small ball of blankets.
A small hand!
“Ate Papu, this is your baby sister Anna Albina.” (“Big Sister Papu, this is your baby sister Anna Albina.”)
Another small hand! Oh, and a small face! Wow, her hair is so small! She’s so small!
Wait, what is an Ate?
“Ate ka na. Malaki ka na.” (“You’re a big sister. You’re big now.”) My Mommy told me, stroking my hair.
Oh, so that’s why I’m big. I’m an Ate now. I’m BIG!*
Me: Don’t forget to wear sneakers in Cambodia.
Aa: Ats, I’m forever in sneakers.
Me: I’m just saying, you’re gonna get ti—-
Aa: (exasperated) Omigod, Ate. Magsisneakers ako, okay! (I’ll wear sneakers, okay!)
Me: Okay, cos Jeshia wore flats to Korea and regretted it.
Jeshia: I DIDN’T KNOW OKAY. I THOUGHT SANDALS WERE OKAY.
Aa: You also thought the crackers in Japan were for people, not deer.
Me: Do you have an itinerary? Are you going to—
Aa: Omigod! YES, ATE I DO.
Me: Okay, just making sure.
Zay: Happy birthday, Ate Aa! Love you!**
*Spoiler alert: I’m still not big.
**Happy Birthday, Aa! We love you! MAGSUNBLOCK KA.