By Alex M. Eduque
“Paglaki ko, gusto ko maging…” the student replies enthusiastically as the teacher asks, “Ano ang gusto mo maging?” While the answers vary, this is a typical role play dialogue that goes on in pre-schools – not only in the Philippines, but around the world I’m almost certain – most especially during the community helpers’ unit whre children get a glimpse on the occupations that exist out there. And while a multitude of answers sprout – some more surprising than others – they are all valid. I remember observing a class not so long ago, and what a humbling experience it was. As a culmination discussion from a week long immersion (with visits from different members of the community with different jobs), the teacher opened the class asking each student what they wanted to be. And while the likes of future policemen, firefighters, teachers, doctors, pilots, and nurses were in my midst, one of the students answered rather differently. He exclaimed, “Teacher, gusto ko maging mabuting tao.”
It was then that it struck me. This was the child who would blaze ahead of the rest. He was clearly unafraid of being different and speaking his mind. This was the one who may lag behind initially because others won’t quite view him as the same as they, but who will in fact make a name for himself because of his courageous spirit. Right there in my midst was a child who unexpectedly reminded me of how underrated kindness truly is, but that it still exists – and we encounter it when we least expect it. Here was a child who exhibited promise like no other – while he answered the teacher’s question quite literally, and not within the expected context, it was still a most valid answer. In fact, it probably was the most refreshing one. And while it was unexpected, he definitely could not be faulted for it.
As adults, we never stop learning from children. Their spontaneity, their charm, their sense of naiveté is refreshing and energizing amidst a world that can sometimes run us down to a runt. As adults, we sometimes still constrain our perspective of things and our opinions, oftentimes not thinking outside the box enough. We sometimes still tend to take things at face value and blow things out of proportion, not opening our eyes into what the root of it all actually is. We sometimes tend to overcomplicate things, when the answer is actually so simple. Complexity tends to fill us with a notion of being smarter as we form all sorts of mazes to create thought processes to address what can really be a simple problem. When in reality, the smartest people can sometimes be those with the most mundane of answers. Because in the end, at a time of crisis, there is no room to enjoy the journey and all the things in-between. What matters to most is that one arrived at Point Z from Point A, rather than how one got there.
I remember leaving that classroom asking myself what I wanted to become. There I was, reflecting on my yesteryears and my yesterdreams of wanting to be a cashier at one point, a teacher at another, a flight attendant and a princess. And I remember thinking to myself how futile all my answers were compared to that one kid who only really dreams of becoming a good person. Come to think of it, and at the end of every day, we all really work on self-betterment. And what we really want to become tomorrow is a better version of our best selves today.