Tag Archives: respect

Lost in Translation

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My daughter was playing with plastic eggs left over from Easter when she decided that she wanted the egg that was on the top  shelf.

I was napping when she asked me to get it.

“I am going to get the egg later“, I said.

Like a typical four-year old (this happened last year), she had to have the one egg that was out of reach.  It did not matter that she had 2-dozen other plastic eggs in front of her.

Real eggs that we decorated

She begged.  She cried.  She pleaded.

I was still trying to nap.  I begged!  I cried!  I pleaded!

At this point, my feisty little girl started stomping her feet.  It was now a full-blown tantrum.  She was now screaming and demanding that I get her toy–NOW!

I am a preschool teacher so I am no stranger to  meltdowns and tantrums.  I have been told that I am very patient with my students.  I don’t get annoyed, and I am usually calm and composed.

But, when my own children start to make unreasonable demands —like getting a toy when there are other toys to play with—I go bananas.  More bananas than usual now because a nap, that I seldom take, was interrupted.

So I said, “No!”

She got deliriously mad.  She was now stomping both her feet, screaming at me, and telling me to get up and do what she is asking me to do.

Oh, I did get up!  And I sent her to her room.  But not before I said something that sounded eerily similar to what my mom would have said…

Aba, aba, aba!  Huwag mo akong kakausapin ng ganyan.  Umakyat ka sa taas!

(Very loosely translated to:  Hey, hey, hey!  You do not talk to me in that manner!  Go upstairs!)

My kids know that being sent upstairs is not a punishment.  That part of the house is good for helping them calm down and regroup, though when the words came out of my mouth, being sent upstairs seemed like a punishment.

I called her on her behavior because to me, talking that way was being disrespectful.

Sometimes, when children are caught up with emotions that are spiraling out of control, they need to be taken out of the situation.  The room where I sent her has toys, books, and a soft bed —things that could pacify her during this meltdown.


Reading can always calm her down

Later that night as she was helping me with dinner, and all traces of that ugly argument forgotten (or so I thought), she asked me in her sweetest voice,

“Mom, what does aba, aba, aba, mean?  (She clearly understood the rest of my Tagalog command.)

 It caught me by surprise,  “It means, I don’t like what you are doing.”

“Ohhhhhhh.  Next time just say, I don’t like what you are doing… because I don’t understand what aba, aba, aba means. Okay?”

To which I retorted,

Aba, aba, aba!  Now you know.  So don’t do it again!



aba: Word: aba!
English Definition: (intj.) an exclamation of surprise, wonder, or disgust; emphatic denial.
Examples: Aba! Bakit ngayon mo lang sinabi? (Hey, how come you only said it now?)


Any wisecracks you’ve heard from kids?  Share them in the comment section, please.

A Filipino Family

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I call all my older brothers and sisters ate (older sister) and kuya (older brother).  My parents really did not have any opinion about this, but we had an older au pair from Lipa who strongly believed that younger siblings should call older siblings ate and kuya out of respect.  We only needed her services for a short time, but I really listened to her.

I don’t think my parents cared with labels, or they would not have waited for the au pair to teach me to call my siblings ate and kuya. It seemed to me that what was more important to them was the love and respect that each of their children had for each other, regardless of birth order!  In our own household, we use something similar to ate and kuya.  My daughter calls her older brother ahia (Fookien for older brother).  My son calls his younger sister shobe (Fookien for younger sister).

Beyond the labels, I aspire for my children to grow up respecting and caring for each other and the family.  To start, we divide household chores equally between the two—folding laundry, putting away dishes, putting away toys, tidying up their bedroom, and a whole lot more.  It would be very easy to give in to the younger one’s request to let ahia do it because he is bigger, but we don’t.  Sometimes it would be simpler if the grown-ups did everything, but we don’t.  To me, being responsible for certain things in the house shows that each person respects and cares for the family.  In my opinion that show of respect is more heartfelt than simply calling someone kuya and ate.

I have to admit though that it is cute to hear my children call each other ahi (short for ahia) and shobes (short for shobe).  Especially if the tone used is exasperation bordering on rage. Like, “Ahiiiiyaaaaa, let me play with your green army soldiers!”

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