On our way home, we were brought to a stop by the red light. It was as well a cue for an alarming exploit. Apparently their version of the Christmas rush, children come rushing towards halted cars wishing even for a few loose change in exchange for a Christmas carol. They weren’t playing nor experiencing normal childhood. Innocently, they were meagerly working.
At that moment, I told my 6-year old daughter the importance of valuing her education… More than the likely stability of a compensating job, it was more of the related realization of the subsequent generations.
Then, I remembered that one time I was ‘jobless’.
Like normal children usually do, my cousins together with my brother and I used to play a lot during our youth. We ran in circles, scampered up and down the stairs, climbed and carved our names on the guava tree. Our Grandmother’s house was anything but serene. Getting to be bothersome was the least of our worries until we hear a familiar berating voice that caught not just our attention but also the unlucky one among us; “Jobless ka nga ubing!” (You jobless kid!) It was that of our strict Grandfather. We never really thought about what it meant but such manifestation was more than enough to mellow us down and console our moping “jobless” cousin.
This has nothing to do with my stand on child labor. I respect at the same time pity these youngsters but nonetheless have earned my admiration. It’s just that with regard to what my Grandfather’s famous line, it was a misconception of an expression particularly when used referring to us then. Having a job was not a responsibility much less an option for we were kids having fun, which seemingly was the only thing that mattered. Of course we were also attending school though we did not excel it was educational. Somehow, we feared our Grandfather’s uptight disposition and we never understood him; so much goes for comprehension. No one can actually blame us for we never really felt close to him in the first place.
So many years have passed since denouncing my Grandfather in between sobs after getting heavy spanking while hearing him lashed at me his “immortal bywords”. Memories of my late Grandfather will remain, thanks to his pet phrase. During family gatherings it never fails to infuse laughter by the mere mention of such line. The big difference now is that it’s no longer beyond our intellectual capacity.
I understand it now yet it has a piercing effect. I’m no longer a kid. As a matter of fact, I already have two of my own. Being a father, I have come to value the importance of a job or securing an income at least. Gone are the days when as a bachelor, I worked for myself; I hardly had earnings. Now every centavo counts. “Choices” is not a luxury anymore, position being associated with prestige is unfair, and salary, as long as it’s fair will do. Personal dreams and ambitions can play supporting roles behind family’s future.
During that time I was in search of a job, frustration was the biggest obstacle specially after exuding with so much confidence, rejection pursues and time adds to the pressure. Then the nagging circumstances compel you further: your everyday needs, diapers, medicine/vitamins and so on and so forth. This can go on and on until you’re drained. What makes it worse is that the same goes with your pending applications. “Telling you “We’ll call you” but they never do” is the most common and just one of the many objections of applicants against potential employers. Complain or there’s just really something wrong with the system, it won’t matter anymore; maintain your composure and keep on (job) hunting.
I don’t want my children that while during their youth, instead of having to figure out what game to play will be forced to work because I can’t provide enough for my family. Under the circumstances, I don’t want to sound like my Grandfather, much more; I don’t want my children to hear the same inappropriate expression. As for me, I wonder what my Grandfather would be saying to me if he were alive. Quite frankly, I don’t know, for “Jobless ka nga ubing” would be an understatement.