[Editor's note: Michael G. Yu has been contributing to Rappler since April 2012. He is a Filipino expat in Hong Kong, living there with his family — wife Sharon and kids Timmy and Kiara. Timmy is a child with autism. Michael blogged about him for us in Soc Villegas, autism, and the challenges of parenthood.
Shortly before returning to HK with his family after New Year, Michael visited me in the Rappler office. That was our first time to meet, and I realized that he is as he writes: thoughtful, understanding, and light. This year, we hope to receive more blogs from Michael straight from HK, as he writes not just about family but also about other Filipinos living and working abroad.
Let us support him as well as the other Rappler parents who will write for us this year to help build and strengthen #RapplerFamily. To the parents, if your kids are creative, share your pride in them and their talents with us in #RapplerKids.
Family is tops for me, and I know it is the same for you. In the age of social media where we multi-multi-task and can accomplish work worth 60 hours in 24 hours (thanks to gadgets and technology), now, more than ever, should we make sure to allot unplugged time for family. Don't just "set aside" time; make time.
Time with family is as important as your most important business meeting. Cheers to the Filipino family! - KLM]
MANILA, Philippines - The revelry had reached its apex. Midnight fireworks exploded around us and flashed momentary shadows of tree branches onto the shades drawn closed. Even with all the windows and doors shut tight and the aircon at full blast, I was concerned that the explosions from all sides would awaken you.
But as in the past, you slept through New Year's.
I stared at you as you slept, just the two of us in a room whose darkness was interrupted intermittently by flashes of red, green, and yellow. The rest of the family was outside enjoying the chaotic show of light and sound and welcoming what is treated as "new" but is really just another day.
That's because humans are cyclical creatures, aren't we? We measure time by turns of the seasons. We measure age in weeks, months, years. We peg places on man-made calendars as special: birthdays, anniversaries, and like today, New Year's Day. We need milestones to mark beginnings and ends, to take breaks in life's monotonous saunter.
But you've always been different, preferring to march to your own cyclical beat. Since you cannot express yourself, we judge you from what we see.
And to us, you can't break the monotony. More or less, you wake up at the same time, look for the same food, ask for the same toys, say the same things, sing the same songs, and sleep at the same time.
There don't seem to be any milestones for you, just the sun rising and setting to signal the change of days. There is nothing more to life for you, no other significance.
You slept through New Year's.
Because of your condition, the milestones that we have grown accustomed to over decades of our own lives have been adjusted. Instead of marking the days you enter kindergarten, learn how to ride a bike, or bring your first friend home from school, we mark the days when you speak a new word, remember someone's name, or try a different dish at dinner time. Events that are otherwise insignificant but take on meaning in your context.
But we still need milestones. We crave for them, for meaning in the seemingly meaningless.
Because humans are cyclical creatures.
Your Mama and I beam when others in the family comment on how much you've grown. They notice you are more alert now, that you engage with them more, that you are coming out of your shell. Positive breaks in the monotony of your life, milestones defined by us because you aren't capable yet.
We mark each one in anticipation of the day when you learn how to mark your own days, signaling your full and complete healing someday.
Happy 6th New Year, Timmy.
For now, we celebrate — albeit incompletely — the milestones we have learned over the years. Easter, birthdays, Christmas, New Year's. And we pray for the day that you will finally understand their significance.
We are hopeful that the day will soon come when you won't be asleep at the stroke of midnight on the first day of the year.
On a future New Year's Day (or any day, for that matter), we look forward to you waking from your stupor, stepping out of the house, and joining us outside, taking in the many lights and sounds that life has to offer, no matter how chaotic they can be. - Rappler.com
(There is the helicopter parent, the negligent parent, and then there’s Michael Gohu Yu. A doting father one minute who transforms into Homer Simpson the next, his writing on parenting reflects themes ranging from the hilarious to the heartwarming. Whichever the case, though, he always aims to entertain parents of all ages.)