My replacement

My replacement likes to suck her fingers.

By Anthony O. Alcantara

Strange thoughts sometimes get into my head. It’s shocking when that happens, especially since usually there’s nothing in it. It was around 3am and I was awoken by sounds that my 7-month-old baby Ariadne made as she slept.

I usually check on her several times during the night, just to make sure she’s not sleeping on her stomach. I’ve read somewhere that SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is correlated to sleeping on the stomach.

So I’m very scared of SIDS. If I could only put glue on my baby’s back so she sticks to the bed, I would. But then we don’t have glue in the house, and I thought that using the grayish substance in my skull as glue would just increase the IQ of the bed, and make matters worse for me.

When I checked Aria’s sleeping position, I was relieved to find her sleeping on her side. I continued to look at her and make sure she’s breathing.

Then suddenly the thought of my mortality hit me.

I’m staring at my replacement here on earth! Just about a year ago I never gave much thought to having children. And now I’m staring at a small and hyperactive baby girl who will soon take my place in this world when I’m gone.

So what do I do?

I quickly think of ways to prepare my replacement so that she’ll be a much better version of me. I must teach her good values and impart to her whatever wisdom my three functioning neurons can come up with. Perhaps I’ll collect some hackneyed phrases like, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Or maybe phrases like “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” That can certainly help if my baby decides to be a cook. Perhaps I’ll include quotes from Seth Godin too. I will teach her how to be a purple cow, a grass-fed purple cow with dreams of becoming remarkable.

I will also include quotes in the Bible. Quotes like “There is a time to reap, a time to sow, a time to rest,” or something like that. Can’t remember the exact words. Or maybe “Be fruitful and multiply….,” though that will have to wait until she gets her Ph.D.

Perhaps I should also include some quotes of my own: “Hard work is not always valuable. It is only valuable when you apply it to what you love or what is important to you.” All these quotes and wise sayings I will compile for her.

I think she should also learn to love martial arts. I’m an enthusiast and practitioner of a few disciplines.

She will learn Aikido, Taekwondo, Pekiti Tirsia Kali, Jujitsu, Judo, Kung Fu. She will learn the one-inch punch and then she’ll innovate and come up with her one-centimeter punch. She will patent it, create a new martial arts discipline, build dojos, create a line of clothing and accessories for her students, and perhaps create a movie out of all this. She will then retire rich and happy.

Of course she will also learn music. I never went beyond playing the first few bars of Chopsticks on the piano, though I can play the guitar well. So Ariadne will learn to play Rachmaninoff with her toes.

She will also cultivate that rare ability called perfect pitch, which is the ability to identify or reproduce a certain note without any external reference. She will be able to identify the notes sung by that rooster I sometimes hear in early morning, or the key of Rebecca Black’s neuron-zapping song “Friday.” My wife has perfect pitch. So I guess that’s her job.

Then my baby will learn to sing like her mother, who’s a coloratura. With her high-pitched shrieks, Ariadne is well on her way.

I will also teach her to love books as I do. So far she likes to eat them. I’m delighted. Ariadne also likes to turn the pages of a book with her feet. There was also a time when I gave her a brochure from SM Hypermarket. Within minutes, she tore its pages to pieces with her hands and feet. She loved the sound it made.

Then I will encourage her to become a great writer. I will tell her to write about intellectual stuff and use language that is more refined and educated. I will encourage her to read the Economist, and perhaps all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Then I will ask her to join Mensa, the high IQ organization, so she can learn that it takes more than IQ  to succeed in life. I will also encourage her to get into Harvard or any Ivy League school so that she will realize that all people basically have the same capacity for genius and stupidity no matter what school they come from.

I will also teach Aria to be generous. Nothing in this world gets accomplished without the big hearts of people. She doesn’t have to be as rich as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Henry Sy.

This is certainly exhausting. There are lots of plans and lots of dreams. But I guess parents can only do so much.

In the end I get inspiration from my idol Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”

That’s what I intend to do.

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