Last Sunday was my nephew Paul’s thirteenth birthday. He was the very first grandkid and nephew in my family. Without even knowing it, Ranel Paul, on July 2, 1993, ushered in a new kind of joy to our family. His every move was photographed, every little action spun into stories that were retold endlessly.
And then Time winked. Now that cute baby suddenly speaks in a low voice and talks no-end about basketball, video games, and, yes, girls (three topics on which I have almost-zero knowledge). Puberty has waved its magic wand and now Paul fusses more about his hair, spends more time with friends, and worries he might not grow taller than his uncle’s six feet.
Paul was polite yet warm when I talked to him Sunday. I told him how I couldn’t believe that he’s already a teenager! We chatted about high school and how he is warming up to it. (It turns out his home room adviser is Mrs. Juezan, one of my favorite math teachers, who also taught all three of my siblings before me.) He went on to describe the events of his special day—the gimmick with his barkada, the time with family… It struck me how I missed him, how I missed home. Before we said our goodbyes, I told him that I was praying for him. He ended with, “’Love you, Tito”—and somehow I felt it. “Love you, too, Poloy.”
Paul is a very perceptive and introspective boy. Once when he was nine, he asked me about the meaning of the word “paranoid”. Without a second’s pause, I answered, “Paranoid? That’s your Grandpa!” His eyes twinkled and he let out a little laugh. Honestly, I just didn’t know of a better way of explaining the word’s meaning to him at that time. But then again, maybe my little retort did more than any dictionary could to define the word for his young, curious mind. Now, as a certified teenager, Paul just might add “daddy” to expand the word’s definition.
“So how does it feel to be the father of a teenager?” I quizzed my 37-year-old brother over the phone. Ever eloquent and witty, the minister replied nonchalantly, “Now I know why some animals eat their young.” Hahaha! With that good humor and lightheartedness, I get the feeling that raising a teenager won’t be so traumatic for my dear brother. And I doubt Paul—a good boy, really—will end up on any menu either.
Happy Birthday, Polsky! The Lord make His face to shine upon you…