WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: The Kid

My mother-in-love tells me his handle is Kid. Before she did, I just knew him as Judge Cañete. First name is Roberto, according to a relay text sent by his helpful daughter Gay. Kid sounds fitting. You see, I turned him sixty years younger sometime last month.

Saturdays, and regular law classes are held at Dotterweich Hall where, incidentally, the Psychology Laboratory is. One Saturday last month, my Child Psychology class was doing experiments there for our midterm exam.

The actual conduct of child experiments is often the time that students find out how tricky it is to work with kids. True enough, one of our young subjects was so overwhelmed by the stress of getting interviewed while being asked to perform certain tasks with so many strangers looking at her. She burst out in tears and had to be excused from the rest of the exercises. So there she was crying and clinging to her sister all the way to the restroom. I was going to check up on her when I bumped into The Kid. The Kid asked why the girl was crying.

I explained that we were conducting child experiments at the Psychology Lab. The Kid wanted to know if it involved child abuse. So I took him down to the lab to see what we were doing. I hoped to convince him that everything was above board.

I guess The Kid had fun after all. I know we did. We ran the exercises with him as the subject. He was very interested in what we hoped to accomplish. Sometimes, the best way to teach is to show how it's done. My students got to see me model again how to run the simulations. The Kid played along and was a worthy subject.

On the way out, The Kid tells me that everything about Child Psychology could be collapsed in a two-word sentence. He said he learned this when he was 12 years old and listening to his father conversing with friends about the trials of raising children. He heard his father say that children only needed parents to do one thing: Love them.

What The Kid heard at 12 was something he brought with him for life. It speaks of the fact that he found no contradiction in what his father said and how he treated The Kid and his siblings. It made sense to The Kid. And so, without hesitation he used this formula on children – even those to be found in his classroom, he said. I thanked him for passing it on to me.

He told me how a book in psychology saved him in his youth. He said older boys bullied him so much that it was enough to give any person an inferiority complex for life. But that book taught him things to appreciate in himself. This book, he confessed in a stage whisper, he stole from an Army library in the 1950s.

"So, it was an American book?" I asked as we loitered in the hallway. He said yes.

"Good for you," I said. "They stole our country so you stole their book."

"Oh, but it's still stealing," he said in mild rebuke as I walked him back to the stairs.

I couldn't resist inviting him to my book launch which would have been a few days away. He's my kind of people after all, although I don't think he knew my name. I was just someone he would talk to on occasion, and we kind of have gone too far in light bantering to go back to the formal introduction part that we missed earlier. So I just handed him the invitation and like the judge that he was, he meticulously perused the physical evidence, reading the words out loud.

I was totally unprepared when The Kid got so excited over my name. He was literally babbling on the stairs, to the amusement of two of his students who came to fetch him for class. He said he reads Gail Ilagan and had been meaning to write her an email because he sees sense in what she writes.

What do you say to that?

I said I understand that intentions sometimes don't translate to action.

He did not hear me. He was too busy saying he loves what Gail Ilagan writes and that he reads her. He reads her very well.

“Hey, Judge," I said, "I love you, too."

Love them. Love them all.  

(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected] email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)

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