His name means little child. He came to us with four other siblings, at the age of four. He was tiny and sickly. Until now we are careful of his food intake due to his asthma and skin allergies. He grows a bit slower than the rest; at the age of eight, he is still underweight. The boy has so much energy, too. After bathing, for example, he is out playing again, running around, and his hair is damp from sweat, not from the shower. He is our boy Niño (said Ninyo).
Learning is difficult for the boy. He repeated the first grade two times. He is now in the second grade but can only write his name; he is unable to read. He told me: “Papa Butch, you know, I learn the alphabet but quickly I forget them”. He looked bothered by it for a second, but quickly he run away and happily rolled on the ground.
The child’s difficulty is understandable. He was from a large family, where food was divided among a dozen children, he, the 9th child. Back home food was not enough for all, and sometimes the children could not eat regularly on time. The family environment was not very happy and with a lot of problems before. That was the main reason for the child’s rescue.
During this summer vacation, Niño and his siblings visited their family and they stayed there for a couple of days. It was Niño’s first visit after the separation. He was very excited, and counted the number of sleeping nights until the “vacation” day. His older brother made lines on the paper and Niño had to strike one each night, and upon the last line, he said, “Yehey, it is already my last night”.
After the vacation the mother brought the children back to Batang Pinangga, and said, “if this boy (referring to Niño) stays a lot longer I would die”. We know she was just saying her difficulty to care for this super active boy. Niño laughed and ran quick to the playground, rolling and tumbling, like missing out the fun for a long time. For this boy, when it comes to having fun, the sky is the limit.
We don’t mind. With Niño, there is always something to do. One day our social worker, Mama Bing, saw Niño running in the rain, or more like swimming in the mud. She quickly went to him, saying to go indoors else he gets cold. Our boy did not hear: “Oh my, Niño, look at you…”, and Niño asked her, “What did I do, Mama?”
Yes we have to be in the world of Niño to understand him. It is not easy, for there are other children to care for. Learning in school maybe has to wait a
little longer. We too shall wait for him to grow up a little. After all he is just eight years old.