There was a viral video of the Breeze detergent experiment showing mothers’ reactions upon seeing their children all dirty and muddy after school. As expected, most of the moms were shocked, surprised, maybe even annoyed as they asked questions that seemed to assume the worst about their children’s behavior: “What did you do (this time)? / Where did you play again?’ or said statements like ‘I don’t like you dirty’, or ‘You will wash your dirty shirt yourself’.
Then, the moms had a change of heart when the school played a congratulatory video presenting their kids as ‘Student of the Day’. The hidden cameras showed their kids helping an old man (school gardener) bring some plants and pots to a nearby location after the wheelbarrow he was pushing on a muddy side of the school’s garden broke and tipped over.
When interviewed, some of the moms revealed they were concerned about public opinion — that they feel hurt when they are blamed for their kid’s dirty shirts; or conversely, that they are happy when they feel they brought up their children well. Well-behaved might mean clean or neat to most moms.
The experiment showed two traits – that adults tend to be tough on or judgmental about their children outside the “norm” (in this case, neatness) while on the other hand, children can carry out acts of kindness without minding consequences to themselves (in this case, getting dirty).
Watching the Breeze experiment made me teary-eyed as I recalled my encounter in 2010 telling my daughter Tricia to already get a job after her graduation and take advantage of her being the sole Ateneo Art awardee in photography of her batch. I was being judgmental by assuming she was being lazy until I understood that she was already working-from-home with a job as a blogger as I was unaware of her being one of the pioneers in this career called blogging.
Back then, when Tricia told me she got invited to an all-expense paid, 5-star trip for two to the U.S to attend the New York Fashion Week in 2011, I was totally unbelieving. My reaction then was why would anybody want to invite a 22-year old fresh graduate to this event as I was oblivious of her being a popular fashion blogger. It was then that I checked her blog for the first time that fateful day in early 2011. I later learned that she was the only blogger not just from the Philippines but also living in Asia who was invited to the event. When she posted pictures such as her name pasted at the back of her reserved chair in a front row seat of this international event – I started to realize how I needed to see things in a different light, especially with my own children.
Raising kids in a way we parents believe is the standard and thus, is the one proper way, is a tough task, especially with the changing times where we are constantly measured by achievements based on society’s expectations. When my eldest twins, Chase and Juju, along with only daughter Tricia, were growing up, I was struggling as an entrepreneur in my first decade and as a young father, who was intense and competitive. I still feel some brokenness in knowing I cannot bring back time as an absentee dad, as my family had to put up with my absence and presence alike. Credit goes to my wife Chiqui for holding everything together for all of us and for insisting that it is happiness that will complete and sustain us, beyond our achievements which are now seen as fulfillment of potentials.
Chase and Juju are working independently with other companies and I am proud they are doing what they want to do as a software programmer and as an art project manager respectively. I am fortunate I was able to spend more time with my youngest son Calel who is now working with me in the family business, giving us more opportunities to bond and to share even more experiences and learnings in both business and life.
My most interesting job now is being ‘business adviser’ of Tricia, as I had to learn her world and deconstruct the business so I could see how I can be of value to her and her clients. Perhaps, my volunteering as her manager is my way of making up for my indifference in previous years, and I am much more open to reverse coaching as she mentored me about social media and how to start my own marketing blog two years ago, sharing with me her high standards and professional ethics in her kind of work. Clearly, she was not being lazy walking around the house when she was starting her career– it was a self-fulfilling prophecy as she now travels around the world upon the invitation of different brands, consistent with the name of her blog ‘Tricia Will Go Places.’
Like the moms showed in the Breeze video, I am happy Tricia and her brothers are doing well despite my absence when they were still young, or despite my then lack of understanding of what would make them grow and be happy. I am blessed that they have given me another chance to be a good dad to them. I am even prouder that Tricia has done many philanthropic acts blogging about Operation Smile (where she is a brand ambassador) as well as donating a very substantial part of her 2015 revenues to groups like Yellow Boat of Hope, Markprof Foundation, Gifts and Graces Foundation, Kythe (for kids with cancer), Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Gawad Kalinga home for the homeless, Charity First scholarships, Oblate Sisters of The Most Holy Redeemer, Invest to Donate Foundation, National Kidney and Transplant Institute as well as Chinnovation for Social Change despite her young age (I know, I am her manager, she would be too humble to even talk about this but I would like to point this out to encourage other young people as well.)
Can something seemingly bad bring out something good? Congratulations to Breeze for this courageous effort to launch this crusade – of seeing things differently, of seeing things in a better light. Chiqui is right – to raise good adults or good Filipinos, the highest praise parents should give their children is when they have done acts of kindness to others, not just when they get good grades, not just when they win awards and competition, or not just to praise them for their beauty or looks. When our children do something good for others, let them know that’s what matters most.
And I thank God for allowing our children to teach us to be better parents with their pure acts of being kind.