Sunday, July 19, 2009

Iya, 3rd Born

It is Iya's fourth birthday today.

Up to the time she was 2 to 2 1/2 years old, Iya was a quiet little baby who didn't give us much trouble other than the mandatory diaper change. She gladly, if not quietly, came with us and ate what she was fed...from chicken soup to tomatoes to cheese to carrots. On our trip to Australia and New Zealand, it was not difficult at all to have her as a traveling companion. I observed and often wondered how she would turn out compared to her siblings, whose character and personalities had already begun to take shape and show themselves, more or less.

At 2 years old, Camille, our eldest daughter, was smart and alert, carrying on straight conversations with grown ups and kids alike, surprising people who would engage her in a chat. Lucas, the second, was making up his own words and was endlessly curious, exploring the things around him, earning him an 'explorer's' medal in pre-school for exploring the world outside the classroom...during class hours.

Iya, on the other hand was quiet and observant, happy with the simple joys of kicking around a pile of leaves or leading a little pull toy, not wanting to let it out of its sight and not caring where her steps took her.

Her one assertive decision at that time was that she did not like to drink from a baby bottle. If she had to drink from a vessel at all, it had to be a glass. This did not apply, however, to her preference for her mother's God-given repositories of nutrition and nourishment. She was breastfed until she was just about 2 1/2 years old. Maybe this accounted for her calm disposition..there must be a natural dose of Prozac in mother's milk.

It was also about this time at 2 1/2, that she started to show hints of the person she was growing up to be. She had started to recognize (and prefer) specific video shows, Blue's Clues, Dora the explorer and the movie that created the monster, "Enchanted," the first full length movie she truly focused on, understood and watched...about 2,342 times (and counting). I still wonder if it was, in fact a good decision to buy the DVD of the movie. This shaped the world of Iya. In a trip to HK Disneyland, she would not choose any other gown BUT..Giselle's gown...not Snow white, not, Sleeping Beauty, not Minnie Mouse......the white gown of Giselle...never mind that it was 2 sizes too large for her. And just like the Enchanted DVD, the Enchanted gown paid out in terms of times used, displayed and seen.

She wore the gown at home, while watching the 'Enchanted' DVD, she wore it to school, she wore it to the movies....her Kuya did not want to be seen with her anymore if she insisted on wearing the gown outside the house. She, had, in a word, become 'enchanted' with the movie, the gown, the concept of being a princess, engaging others in dialogues as Giselle, making up her own monologues while playing by herself.

When we took a trip to France and had a chance to stay in a house with a home theatre set up, the main feature, day-in, day-out, was....yes, 'Enchanted.' It didn't help that we were in a place where there were castles and little towns. This reinforced the idea in her that she was really Giselle and she was just humoring us by being Iya, once in a while.

I could never really understand the French obsession with carousels. It seemed everywhere we went, there were carousels. Actually, I wouldn't have noticed except Giselle, I mean, Iya, would never miss one. Whether it was in Paris, under the Eiffel Tower or on market day, in the little town of Lourmalin in Provence. She insisted on riding every big or little carousel she saw. I think I know now that they heard Princess Giselle was coming and they made sure her royal horses were available at her bidding.

At this point also, Iya started to assert herself.....and assert herself in a very, well...assertive way. She would, in our words, "hulk out" if she did not get what she wanted, clenching her fists, grinding her teeth and letting out an extended, gutteral groan...the intense and gradually intensifying expression of her inner rage. Bruce Banner..step aside...Iya's here. It still rears its ugly head today, once in a while. But her gamma rays are now more controlled, now replaced with schizophrenic mood swings I think might be the early onset of infantile dementia.

Between 3 and 4, Iya's interests have veered away (a little) from "Enchanted" (although she still gets enchanted when the Disney Channel happens to be showing it) and have moved on. She has, in turns, become EVA (from Wall-e), Tinker Bell, Supergirl and, today, Ginormica from Monsters Vs Aliens.

She has become talkative and charming, entertaining our house guests with her stories and confidently introducing herself as 'the prettiest' among her siblings. She is prone to mood changes at one point boiling over with frustration and, with a snap of a finger, laughing at something else totally unrelated, as if to escape from the embarassing frustration. Iya, like her siblings, now loves to curl up on my shoulder, randomly giving me a hug, a kiss and a whispered 'I love you,' falling asleep and giving me a sense of fatherhood and family that can only be felt but not fully explained.

Sometimes I wonder if she is the same little girl I brought home from the hospital, small and frail, yellowed from jaundice as I walked her in the morning sun. Is this the same baby who calmly sat in her stroller as we walked in Christchurch and Queenstown?

Or has she somehow been showered with pixie dust, blasted with gamma rays or exposed to an alien meteor that has changed her to a different being...a pixie, a raging mutant, a giant human...grunting, shouting, laughing, jumping, living in a little girl's world of castles and aliens and a real world of parents and siblings, school and playmates...all worlds where she skips along her happy way.

Happy birthday Iya.

(Photo by Dave Fabros)


  1. I smiled, laughed and cried reading your blog today. Iya has indeed changed so much the past year. She reminds me and most of the dela Cruz family of myself when I was her age -- sometimes sweet, at times "monstrous", but loving and lovable all the time : )
    Happy happy 4th birthday Iya. We love you. We look forward to discovering yourself and the world around you in the coming year : )

  2. Roddy! First time I'm reading through your blog today... I never knew you could write so well! ;-) My favorite entry so far is this one--it's really quite beautiful. Happy birthday to Princess Iya!

  3. Very refreshing, inspiring read... and soo... sweet coming from a dad. Reminds me the joys and blessings of parenthood. Am sure Iya together with Camille & Lucas will cherish this :)

  4. I'm glad you invited me to your blog. You have a gift of loving description. Thanks!