Chessa and Her Secret Talisman

Navigating the corridors and playground of grade school is tough enough. Being the new kid in the block and a transplant from another continent is even tougher. Chessa found herself in such a predicament that school year of 1992.

I came over to the US in 1990 when Chessa was entering first grade. She then followed January 1992 in the middle of second grade. I wanted to ease her gradually into her new environment so I let her wait out the rest of school year instead of finishing out second grade here. I figured that it might be too much of a shock to throw her smack in the middle of the year. I was going to take my chances and have her take qualifying exams for third grade at a nearby Catholic school. As I expected, she passed the exams with ease.

Her transition from school life in the Philippines to the one here seemed uneventful. I was not worried about her making friends because she was a pretty happy-go-lucky kid who never had problems blending in and who also knew how to keep herself occupied. If I was apprehensive about anything, it was her English. Although Chessa was a smart kid whose reading and writing skills were above par, I was afraid that she might be a little intimidated by the rest who had the distinct advantage of having spoken English all their lives. I need not have worried. Chessa breezed through her lessons without a hitch. I was surprised then when one day I casually asked her about school and got a dejected response.

“I am doing okay with my schoolwork but I have no friends.”

Her unexpected answer threw me off. I did not expect my cheerful little girl to have any problems making friends. I asked if people were mean to her.

“No. It’s not that. It’s just that people have their own groups already. I don’t belong to any group, so I have nobody to talk to during recess.”

This revelation was devastating to me. The image of my little girl in the corner being left out of the fun and games made this mother’s heart twist in agony. I just held her close to me and tried to comfort her, murmuring soothing words while racking my brain, trying to find a solution.

Later that night, I tossed and turned, unable to take my mind off her pained expression. As a mother, you share your kids’ hopes, cherish their dreams and feel their pain. You would bear their crosses if you could. You want to shield them from all disasters, natural or man- made. Yet some lessons they have to learn for themselves. Some battles they have to fight on their own. All you can do is watch from the sidelines and pray.

The next day as I was getting ready to take Chessa to school, I saw this stuffed toy in the corner of her bed. It was just a cheap little thing, the kind you get at carnivals on your first win. The little white bear had a lost look to it, like it was unsure if it was welcome or wanted. I looked again at the little bear and got an idea.

“Babe, I can’t always be there with you, but remember my love goes with you always. If I could, I’d always be with you so you’ll never want for someone to talk to and play with. Since I can’t , this little bear will have to do. ” With that, I stuffed the little bear in her pocket. “Whenever you feel lonely, take the little bear out secretly and pretend it’s me. Talk to it and play with it until you feel better. Someday things will work out, I promise.” I then sent her off to school with the bear in her pocket, a kiss on her forehead and a prayer in my heart.

I anxiously awaited her return that day. When I picked her up from school, I checked the crowd for that familiar face. I was greeted with a welcome surprise. My little girl could barely contain the smile on her face as she waved goodbye to a bunch of girls. When we got home, she excitedly told me about her day.

“I was sitting alone in the corner again, as usual, when I remembered what you told me. I took out the bear and started to play with it. I imagined it was you and pretty soon, I did not feel lonely anymore. Next thing you know, a girl approached me and asked if she could play with my bear. I offered it to her and we were playing with it. Pretty soon, a whole bunch of girls were playing with me and the bear. I had so much fun, Mom.”

The smile on her face said it all. It worked! The little bear had acted as a talisman for her, a good luck charm that warded off evil and attracted good vibes. Things were definitely looking up.

In the days that followed, Chessa’s world was agog with whispered secrets and girlie giggles as well as invitations to parties and sleepovers. We both couldn’t be happier.

One day, I went to her room and found the little bear on her bed. She had forgotten to take it with her to school. I hurriedly picked it up, dreading bad news.

“Chess, you forgot your bear,” I worriedly told her as I stepped out of the car to greet her at the end of the day.

She just gave me a big grin. Then in response to my still anxious face, she threw her arms around me and whispered “I don’t need it anymore, Mom. I have friends now. Best of all, I have you!” Then she followed this with a big sloppy kiss.

Wisdom from the mouth of babes! At that point I realized what my little girl already knew in her heart. The little bear was just a key to unlock doors. My daughter regained her strength and confidence not from the bear but from her mother’s unflinching and unconditional love. Chessa’s secret talisman turned out to be none other than ME!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. balot freires
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 23:11:44

    love it!!!!! love every line…i always remind Danica to be always kind and welcoming to new kids when she was in grade school. My experience was the other way around, she’d come home from school every start of schoolyear and would joyfully tell me that her new classmate is her BFF already..so cute for such a short time…

    Reply

  2. Czy Girl
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 03:21:27

    Very nice, Czy Girl! Another obra magnifica!

    Reply

  3. emmblu
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 14:43:35

    Thanks, Czy Girl and Balot. I can just imagine Danica being the ambassador of peace with her sweet face and even sweeter disposition! Maayo gyud pagka-train sa inahan.

    Reply

  4. emmblu
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 14:50:02

    Ditto sad diay with my sister’s daughter, Anjeli, who is a real beauty inside and out. (Balot, Czy girl is me and my sister’s pet name for each other.)

    Reply

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