Conversations with my Daughter: an Angel among us

I didn’t expect to have a daughter as a first child. Like most men, I was expecting a baby boy. The news came as a surprise at first but I quickly warmed up to the fact that we were expecting a baby girl.  We didn’t see it then but God had a plan for us right from the beginning. Now, six years later, it is very clear to us what is God’s reason to have Karymar in our lives. She is our Angel; our guardian angel on earth, who is actively watching for us. It became even more clear, as if we needed another reminder, when Ian Karlo was born. Karymar became his guardian angel too. She is more than that though. She is Ian Karlo’s sentinel, nurse and teacher. She also has been our teacher, showing us what love really is in our relationship.

We have seen our daughter grow from the inside out. Karymar is so tuned in on her surroundings and don’t miss a thing. She catches every word we say, every move we make. That was our first lesson: be careful on what we do or say around our children. She knows when we are sad or worried and knows how to soothe our souls. She joins in the celebration when we are happy; I love to see those eyes sparkle bright when she smiles. I like when she rubs by shoulders after I carry her on my shoulders at the park. I love her sayings to everything we talk about. She finds amusing when I talk to her about anything and she remembers old conversations. The funny thing is that she always brings up things like ” but you said this” when we are doing the opposite or reminds me when I am distracted on the phone or forgot to put my seat belt on. Her comments sometimes are the kind that make you stop in your tracks and just laugh about it or give it a lot of thought.  I find it very special when I am on long trips and she calls me to talk to her and sing a lullaby before bedtime. Often times we chat online and I laugh hard when she ask me ” Are we going to Skype or Tango Papi?”

Karymar is in first grade now and loves school. Always  has a story to tell from school, her classmates and the school bus ride. The tooth fairy came twice this year. She was very brave pulling her tooth out when it was ready to come out. She has a gift of art, making beautiful drawings and paintings. She read and writes very good too. I keep all her drawings and writings on a binder and ask her to write the date on it for posterity. Everywhere she goes, she carries her bag with toys, her notebooks and pencil and crayons. Always busy creating things. She loves to play instruments; I have my guitars, harmonicas and hand drums at the ready when we just want to have fun playing music. I bought her first guitar and she likes to play the piano and the drums.  Kary is also a great swimmer. Recently,  we had her taking synchronize swimming lessons. She is a fish in the water, a natural.  She is learning to ride her bicycle; I’ve already taken the training wheels off. Soon she will take off and never look back. One of the mot cherished moments is when Karymar ask me to take her on ride on my motorcycle. She is not old enough to take it out on the road but I take her on a short ride around the neighborhood. She brightens up when she puts her helmet and prepares for her ride with papi. She is a trill seeker and loves to go to the theme parks. Once I took Kary to Universal Studios Island of Adventure theme park.   She was having so much fun, running and jumping. She loves Jurassic Park ride to the point of calling out the suspense moments. She almost spoiled the surprise factor to the other riders. She knew when she was going to get wet and pull her hoodie up. What I liked the most is how she tells me to hold her tightly when the big T-REX shows up just before the drop. We went to rides two and three times in a row. In the Harry Potter coaster she wants to go with her arms up. She loves to ride roller coasters. I didn’t say no to anything she asked for. She was behaving very well and bringing her running stroller was an outstanding plus. We spent about 4 hours of non-stop fun. Great memories.

I didn’t think children can be so tuned in on things, like the simple things in life. We, as grown ups, are tuned out or way off the mark when it comes to these things. We see life disguised as problems, work and paying the bills. Children however, their care free innocence allows them to see life as it really is.  Why can’t we be more like them? What is this thing about being a grown up? Well, Karymar has shown us the way to be happy and enjoy life now, as it happens.We just got to do this simple thing, that is to take care of them in return. They are our highest priority and everything else comes second. The world is not going to end if we don’t do X,Y and Z right away. Children don’t see “time” like we do. In fact, they don’t know what time is, or how much time is to do this or when we will do X, Y and Z. What they do know is how to live in the moment, in the NOW and that is a great lesson to learn.

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Conversations with my Daughter: fundraising

Recently Karymar and I were talking about our plans for the summer and the rest of the year. For a 5-year-old child, Karymar is a very articulated child who can elaborate to some detail what she wants and where she would like to go.  Since Karymar’s first birthday, our family goes out on a cruise trip  to celebrate and we chose the Disney Cruise line as our all in one family vacation.  We were talking about this year’s cruise plan when she told me about an idea that occurred to her. She said ” well Papi since you have not had much work this year, I want to help you”.  I asked her how and she replied ” I want to do a lemon stand to raise money for the cruise”. I was stunned by her idea and asked  how she would  do it.  She went on telling me how she will do it, what she will sell, for how much and where she will set up the stand. I listen intently, admiring her ingenuity  and determination to raise money for the cruise. I could  see her  potential as a young entrepreneur and wonder what more can I do to encourage her.

She found a large box she keeps as her multi-purpose fun house and put it outside so she will be visible from the street. She decided not to offer lemonade because she wanted to do something different. Instead, she had grape juice, water and milk.  She made up a banner with a piece of cardboard where she wrote the items available and the cost of each item. Initially she was charging $10 for the grape juice and $2.40 for the milk. I was happy to see that the water was free however. I did a little business consulting with her, asking why she was charging so much for the grape juice and recommended to lower the price . She insisted in leaving the price as it was and giving grapes for free with the purchase of grape juice instead. Her claim was that if she lowered the price , she was not going to make enough money for the cruise. I just couldn’t say anything more at that point.  She recruited me to go out to the street with the banner to get the customers. I stood outside under the sun for  a considerable time while she waited for customers under the shade. I was thinking on her unfair labor practices but did not complain.

The wait paid off when we got customers coming in, looking for something refreshing to quench their thirst. I saw how my daughter attended her customers, giving them choices and felt very proud of her. We close the business for the day and I congratulate her for a job well done. We talked a little more about what she had done and the deeper meaning of it but that was a little too much for her to comprehend. That was for me to take in; to absorb and appreciate that despite of how things go in life, there is always a way to do more to reach our goals. If I am ever doubtful what to do in life and how to do it, I know who I will turn to for help. Kary is full of ideas!

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Conversations with my Daughter: school time

My little princess is in Kindergartner. She absolutely loves school, her teacher and above all riding the school bus like a big girl. She still and will always be my baby, but I can’t believe how much she has grown. She has started to show her independence and character as an individual. On some afternoons I get to pick up my kids at Grandma’s house.  I enjoy the afternoon rides home; our time in the car are always engaging, never dull. I love when Karymar tells me how she spent her day in school. She takes me through the day’s events, things she learned in the classroom, going over homework and she loves to do homework, bless her heart! I look at her through the rear view mirror and all I see is an outspoken individual wanting to express herself. I asked her “so, do you like school?” and she says “Papi I looooove school and my teacher and riding the big bus”. I beamed at her. She unexpectedly stops talking to entertain her little brother, updating me in whatever Ian Karlo is doing. She say to him something like “what you doing putting your fist in your mouth?” in perfect Spanglish while shaking his little hands. I cannot help but to laugh, sanitizer in hand always at the ready. I love when she tells me stories like her own version of the three little bears. How articulated, outgoing and talkative she is and when I asked her about what she had for lunch, she always tell the truth, whether she ate or not and eager to be the first to tell me when she was put on time out for being a chatter box.  I can have a regular conversation with her just about any subject like I do with an adult. It is remarkable the way that she responds to things, or asks questions. Children are like a sponge and they must be engaged, exposed to the world so they can absorb it and make it their own. One time, I casually asked her about a situation I heard regarding a school friend she has in her classroom. Without hesitation she told me his name, Santiago, her 10-year-old, 8 feet tall, kindergarten classmate. I will make sure I check on her version to validate some facts. Being so brutally honest like her mother, telling the truth and tells me that Mami already knew about Santiago and I was like, “oh really”, interesting detail. Again, worth to investigate further. I told her I definitely would have to meet this Santiago as well as his parents. I ask her when I can meet Santiago or his parents and she said, “ Sure Papi, maybe after school but I don’t know his parents because I don’t talk to strangers”. I’m like give me a break she is only five. I cannot start to think of the things she will say or do in less than 10 short years. Her conversations amazes me and I love it because it is honest, funny and yes, unexpected.

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Conversations with my daughter: imagination

I picked up my daughter at grandma’s house one beautiful afternoon. Strapped in her car seat, Karymar asked for pen and paper to write or draw as she always do on our short way home. She is very good at drawing, keeping good form with shapes, lines and words. In my car there are lots of Karymar’s master pieces which I cherish very much and are reluctant to throw away. This time she drew a tiny snail on one side of the paper, which she called Leo, the snail, and on the other side of the paper, she drew a rock. She then tells me that the rock is a meteorite from space and that its name is rocky- the meteorite. I was stunned to hear this, let alone hearing the word meteorite from the mouth of a 4 ½ year old, so I asked her where she learned all this. She said that she learned it from Barney, the purple dinosaur. I listened in awe how she described rocky, the meteorite and how it traveled from space to the earth.  I nodded appreciatively while sending blessings to dear purple Barney that despite I don’t particularly like the famous kid’s TV character, evidently taught my daughter something that she remembered and related very well.  I appreciated the value of such programs that educate the children with positive, learning material. We pretended to have a conversation with rocky and I asked rocky where he came from and what “he” is doing on earth. Rocky told me he arrived to earth from space and was going to spend a month on earth going to the beach and theme parks. He traveled alone, but found his friend, Leo the snail and will be spending time playing with him.  I was amazed by my daughter’s imagination and the logic behind her story. We had so much fun talking with Leo and rocky that suddenly I realize we have arrived home.  The little spontaneous conversations we sometimes take for granted, caught up on the mundane, are the most precious and rewarding. I am grateful for these moments when I am reminded of what is really important and my daughter is pretty good at doing just that.