In My Own Little World

My mother was a full-time English professor in Nursing at the University of Santo Tomas when I was little. She had classes all week, so she was always at work most of the time. I once had a nanny, but when she left to return to her hometown, my mother was compelled to take me to school with her when no one was available to look after me at home. However, my grandparents only lived next door, so whenever they were around, Mom left me to their care.

During the summer, my cousins from Bulacan spend their school break at our grandparents’ in Manila. All three of them were older than I am, so one of their job was to babysit me on days when no one else could. We did not agree much on a lot of things because I was their only girl cousin, but when it came to Japanese cartoons such as Voltes V and Ultraman, we were like the best of friends.

One afternoon, my mother talked my cousin (who was old enough to know the difference between addition and subtraction, multiplication and division) into keeping an eye on me while she was at work. He agreed, provided he gets to watch the TV while doing so. In hindsight, had Mom known what was going to happen in the first 15 minutes of babysitting me, she would have not entrusted me to my cousin’s custody.

I was only a little over three years when—as if by instinct—I got my hands on a pair of scissors, a table mirror, and a mug. While my babysitter was engrossed with the day’s episode of Voltes V, I was busy being a hairdresser in my own little world. My muse? None other than myself.

My parents had kept my hair short with full bangs since God-knows-when. Regular visits to a professional hairstylist were unnecessary because either Mom or Dad trimmed my hair every few millimeters or so.

I grabbed a fistful of hair just above my bangs, looked at the mirror, and began cutting away. I cropped my hair in a way experts would to add dimensions to one’s hairstyle.

Snip, snip.

Santacruzan, May 1991

I wanted to keep my mess at a minimum, so I made sure that all the hair I cut went straight to my Mr. Yum mug, the same cup I used for my morning dose of hot chocolate. Pretty neat, huh? I was admiring my piece of work in the mirror when all of a sudden, I heard my mother shrieked, and I burst out of my reverie. Mom becoming hysterical was an understatement. My cousin perhaps wished the ground would swallow him whole right then and there.

Judging by my mother’s outburst, my masterpiece was a total disaster. She took me to her hairdresser that same day, praying to all the saints she knew for a miracle on whatever’s left of my hair. Truth is, there was not much to recover from what I had done, thus the stylist ended up chopping off the rest of the uneven damage. My mother was most worried about the upcoming Santacruzan that weekend where I will be joining. Like most participants, I was dolled up in my princess-like dress, but sporting a pixie hairstyle did not make me flinch at all. I thought I was still pretty. I think most of the judges did, too, because I went home that night with a “little darling” trophy.

This time of the month takes me back to that part of my childhood when naïveté was at its best. I liked being a kid, and I’m thankful that my parents allowed me to enjoy my tender age; that it was okay to fail miserably, but still have the heart to laugh about it. Sure, I was teased by most of my cousins for eventually becoming “one of the boys” because of my hair, but I did not mind. It was part of my childhood. My baby photos will validate how enjoyable my youth had been.

Whoever said that craziness comes with age has never tried to cut his own hair under the supervision of his cousin five years his senior.

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