“Mommy, that’s viejaness!’” exclaimed my daughter Ally, then 6 or 7 years old, over dinner one night when I asked if we prayed our grace already. The facts were: (1) yes, we already did, and (2) it was the second time I asked about it. Of course, my older boys, Redd and Maui, jumped on it and they all teased me over and over. It was a good start to a wonderful dinner…
According to Ally’s dictionary – viejaness is a noun, signifying the act of being vieja* or simply, acting like an old lady. To my chagrin, she was right but I was more than amused to know how well she understood the word vieja to actually coin another noun using it.
As in most Filipinos, our family has some Spanish blood and influences and vieja is a term we frequently use in the course of our conversations. She must have realized the meaning of it – without any of us really explaining the meaning and etymology of the word – and started using the word and derivatives of it on her own.
That’s the good thing about kids – you don’t really have to teach them all the time in a formal way. They pick up lessons, new things so fast it’s amazing. Part of what they’ll learn quite quickly is the concept of family and the extended family** which helps ground them to their roots even as they learn to fly as they grow up.
Sometimes, it’s just funny how they learn about family. My kids learned about my long gone Abuelito*** (their great grandfather) when my second son, Maui, asked me why his chin wasn’t like that of most people. After explaining to him what a cleft chin was and that it was special since he got it from my Abuelito, I also showed him my own cleft chin which he didn’t notice before…. And that turned the conversation into an all-out who-has-what-from-whom memory game with me and my kids! The most fun part was distinguishing the dimples the younger generation has from the wrinkles-mistaken-as-dimples of the older generation when they tried to map out our genealogy thru facial features. What started as a simple question turned out to be a good and fun lesson in biology and family history (hence, my solo mom tip above).
On several occasions, I’ve also seen how my kids and their cousins compare notes themselves… via some weird contest like who can twist their tongues in the most number of ways? Or who can best curve their stomach muscles like a wave? Or who can bend their arms the most (who’s most weirdly flexible)? As funny as it maybe, these games actually bring them closer together and emphasize a hidden bond of family. So even when they maybe far apart, they have very fond memories to tide them thru until the next time they’re together.
Indeed, there are fun and easy ways to make your kids realize that they belong to an extended family.
Here are some tips on what you can do:
You have to realize that the bond that develops between you, your kids and your extended family becomes central to how your kids grow and respond to the pressures of a bigger world later on. Extended family relationships sometimes act as a litmus tests and practice zones to how easy, hard, fun and complicated life will be as an adult. In the meantime, have fun watching your kids slowly realize that there’s a bigger world thru their extended family.
For (almost daily) solo mom tips, follow me on Twitter at @joysplu3
* Spanish for old lady
***Spanish for grandfather
About this Post: This blog was originally published on kiddiekist.com last Jan 2013. I was a regular blogger of that site writing about parenting tips for their subscribers.