July 16, 2007

Santa Gabriella

There are times when I feel like I’m raising a saint.

When she was one, Gianna would cringe at the thought of anyone unfamiliar touching her. Distant grandparents, uncles and aunts would offer their hand for the requisite mano po, but the little girl would turn away, ignoring the extended hand. With priests, though, it’s another matter entirely. At the end of the mass, she’d have to go up front to “bless father.” And then she’d have to go up the altar to touch Mama Mary’s vestments. Once, the nanny forgot to go through the after-mass ritual. It was the biggest mistake ever: the little girl’s yells rang from here to kingdom come.

When she turned two, she refused to have a party. She asked for a big Santo Niño instead.

In “choych,” she’s a little picture of piety. She doesn’t step on the pew, she kneels when all the others kneel, she "nods" the sign of peace and she extends her arms for the “Our Father.”

At home, her pretend plays usually revolve around the mass. And Maria. The other night, to entertain Lolo, she took his cane for a mic and started singing. First, it was “how dya sola caga like Mayia?” [How do you solve a problem like Maria?] Then, for some reason, she kneeled, stood up and wailed: “Espiyitu. Wala na simbahan na katol likô.” It took awhile before we realized that she was doing the Tagalog version of the Apostle’s Creed: the part that professed faith in the Holy Spirit and the holy Catholic church (banal na simbahang Katoliko). There, too, are times, when she goes around the house carrying a book in front of her and singing the Bicol version of "Lord have mercy."

And then there's her fascination for nuns. Call it an extension of her fascination with The Sound of Music: it thrills her no end to see "mothers," in person or otherwise.

Just when I'm convinced that I might be the mother of a saint, bam, Gianna swipes at her cousin Sam. Then throws a mean tantrum. Despite our "no hitting, no pinching, no scratching" policy at home, the kid makes it clear that she is no saint.

So much for Santa Gabriella Onna.

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