â€œHOW DO YOU pronounce Cesar’s surname, Daddy?â€
Marielle’s question came from nowhere. It’s one of those typical off-tangent questions from our kids that seem to be coming more and more often, challenging our wits and, at times, our sanity.
It was a usual Habagat-soaked morning in August and we were all preparing for the day ahead â€“ the kids to school, their mom to her office in Makati, and I to where I fancy to work that day.
â€œCesar who?â€ I asked absentmindedly, a bit annoyed.
â€œCesar, the secretary?â€ Marielle replied matter-of-factly.
â€œSecretary?â€ This exchange was starting to annoy me a bit. Meanwhile, her disinterested mom wouldn’t care to butt in, and I couldn’t blame her. She knew she would be dragged into a potentially impossible conversation.
â€œCesar, the Secretary of Finance.â€ She blurted out incredulously, as if wondering why I was so slow to comprehend such a simple, basic question that any 9-year-old is sure to understand.
â€œOh Cesar Purisima!â€ I exclaimed in understanding after an awkward pause. In the corner of my eye I saw Marielle roll her eyes. She may as well have said â€œFinally!â€ in my face. â€œWhy, you just pronounce it as you would read the syllables in his surname. PU-RI-SI-MA.â€
â€œAh okay, thanks.â€ She got what she wanted and was about to dismiss the matter altogether.
â€œWait, what about Cesar Purisima?â€ Look who got curious now?
â€œNothing. I just wanted to know how to properly pronounce his surname.â€
â€œBut why?â€ Now look who’s insistent?
In her usual demeanor when trying to dismiss and end a conversation she said, â€œBecause I’ll interview him.â€ She then turned her back on me to get something in the bathroom.
â€œWHAT?â€ That wasn’t me. I was still busy fixing my jaw that was dangling precariously close to the floor after hearing Marielle’s nonchalant response. That was her mom.
â€œReally?â€ With my jaw back in place I finally managed to pursue the conversation. â€œWhen? Where?â€ Why?â€ I pressed on in rapid-fire succession.
â€œSoon. In his office, I guess. Our group is doing a research about taxes, RE-MEM-BER?â€ Wow, she answered all three questions, also in rapid-fire succession! I know not many people who can manage to do that.
She did mention a couple of times in the past few weeks that she and her group in their Jose Rizal class in Maria Montessori Children’s school were assigned to do some research work about taxes. Neither I nor her mom forgot about it. Still, the idea of some Grade 3 pupils interviewing Sec. Cesar Purisima about their research project seemed preposterous to us. And while we are at it, I must add that I likewise find the idea of grade 3 pupils doing research work on taxes extremely incredible!
â€œSo when?â€ Her mom and I blurted out in unison. Now she’s also very interested.
â€œSometime within the school year… maybe in the next few month. It’s not just me, you know. ‘Twill be me and my group mates.â€
â€œOk so who arranged for the interview?â€ That’s again her mom who already took the lead in the interrogation. I mean conversation.
â€œWe will still make the arrangements.â€
â€œHow?â€ In unison.
â€œWe’ll call him.â€ There was a tacit but definite PERIOD at the end of her sentence, telling us that the conversation was over.
But we wouldn’t let her off the hook that easy, would we? After all, she started it.
â€œBut how will you call him?â€ Her mom.
â€œHow did you get his number?â€ Me.
She turned to face us and ever so slowly looked us in the eye one after the other without saying anything. She then put her left hand on her waist in that typical female gesture of dominance.
Finally she made a slow deep breath, rolled her eyes once again, and said…
To her mom: â€œTelephone? Cellphone? How else?â€
Then to me: â€œWe googled it.â€
In her mind Marielle must have been wondering out loud: â€œDuh! How dumb can parents get some times.â€
There was a marked silence in the room as Marielle turned her back away from us again and proceeded with whatever she was supposed to do. Her mom and I, meanwhile, were busy picking up our jaws that dropped all the way to the floor this time.
THAT somewhat funny morning conversation in August has become a regular fare in our home that is more and more dominated by our 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
I cannot help but wonder how INSOLENT, IRREVERENT, and OVER-CONFIDENT the present generation of kids have become.
I wish I am â€“ was â€“ a lot more like them.