Saturday, June 26, 2010

Welcome To Our Family, Justin Bieber!

I did a double take one night when I saw 2 Justin Bieber CDs propped up like framed pictures on the hallway table where we place our family photos. There they were, nestled in a place of honor between the newest family photo and an old photo of my late dad holding my daughter when she was barely 2.

"So is Justin Bieber a member of the family now?", I had to ask my thirteen-year-old daughter who readily, enthusiastically shrieked her "Yes!". It was a needless question, really. This inclusion of Justin Bieber's photos among our family portraits was preceded by weeks and weeks of our household being Bieberized. His songs were on repeat, his music videos religiously followed on all the music stations on TV. My 2-year-old son, who has barely begun to grasp the concept of speaking, has become a willing victim. He'd break out into "Baby, baby, ooooh", without warning and without much prodding.

What's a mom to do but to shake her head, stand back and accept this new phase in her tween's life. I did the next best thing --- looked up Justin Bieber and tried to find out what his music is all about. In the same manner I had gone through all Stephanie Meyer's books when she was Twilight-bitten. In the same manner I had read J.K. Rowling's works when Hogwarts beckoned (and I ended up a bigger Harry Potter fan!). In the same way that the only shows I got to watch at one time were on the Nickelodeon and Disney channels. I had to step into her world just a little bit and look around, just to make sure it's safe there.

I was relieved to discover there's nothing so far that should cause concern. This sixteen-year-old Canadian pop sensation sings of young romance, of teen life, of parents, of  "making the best of what you have" as he shared in an MTV interview. I sat through some of his music videos and noted that his female love interests, while pretty, were not the usual breathtakingly gorgeous girls. No wonder he has an amazing female tween following. Seeing him in love with and singing to pretty yet simple girls somehow makes him more real, more reachable. In a way, I'm sure it will help young girls feel comfortable and more confident about themselves, just as they are. It will help them realize that being truly beautiful is not about looking like supermodels. Now, if Duran Duran's John Taylor had been anything like Justin and hadn't pursued supermodels during his time, then he wouldn't have broken my heart as badly. Tsk, tsk.

So, while some adults I know would rather shave the hair off his head, I am welcoming Justin Bieber into our family. Thanks to Justin, there are less lonely tween girls on the planet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

When He Cried

I have a million and one memories of you but today, the times you cried come to mind.

You teared up when you went onstage to present my medal during high school graduation.

When I had my first summer job at a fastfood chain, you paid me a visit one time and saw me cooking French fries behind the counter. You ordered half a dozen large fries even if it was just you and the driver, who later told me that you were so proud and thought each fry the most delicious thing in the world.

Photos of the two of us during college graduation couldn’t belie that your glasses had nothing to do with the way your eyes shimmered.

There was a blackout on the night my in-laws came over to formally ask for my hand in marriage. But the candles gave enough light to betray the luster of unshed tears in your eyes.

You cried buckets on my wedding day. While I was made up, while we're in the car en route to the church, when you walked me down the aisle and when you finally had to hand me over to the waiting, smiling groom. (how you must have hated the groom's guts!)

The first time you visited us in our new home after the wedding, you saw me with a hammer pounding away to hang a curtain rod. You didn’t cry then. But I would later be told that you didn’t get to sleep that night, upset that you saw me "roughing it out".

You cried at the hospital when I gave birth to your first grandchild. You drove like the wind all the way from a province up north just so you could be there when I got out of the recovery room.

And during these crying episodes, I had guffawed, teased you, shaken my head to make nothing of it and simply thought you were overreacting. How little I knew then.

Now I realize what those tears meant. When you cried, you were saying you were so proud of me. That you’d do anything to protect me. Your tears were a showcase of how unconditional, how committed a father’s love can be.

It’s been twelve years since you’ve gone Home and missing you is an ache that has become part of my everyday.

Thank you for the tears, Tatay. Now, it’s my turn to cry. Happy Father's Day.