We spoke about “Magis,” the school motto that means doing more. We spoke of making cards that say, “I love you” for their mother, even when there was no special occasion. We spoke of opening doors and pulling chairs for ladies. We spoke of giving up seats (to people in need) in a crowded bus, or moving to the back when an elderly aunt would ride the van with them. We spoke of helping their teachers when they were carrying a heavy load. We spoke of putting away trash, even if it wasn’t their own. We spoke of many examples of how a gentleman is expected to act, and of how their father specifically expects them to move and behave in the world they live in.
My sons have been told that they have much to be grateful for. They have a home, the love of their parents and extended family (grandparents, aunts, and uncles), food and water, and friends. We also paraphrased a line from the Spiderman movie: “to whom much is given, much is expected.” This expectation hangs over them, as we remind them everyday.
Sometimes, I feel that I push too much. That they might crumble under the weight of these expectations. Sometimes, they say, “but daddy, it’s too hard!” And after a mini-tantrum, they go and do it anyway.
If there is one thing that I am particularly proud of in these boys, it is this: they persevere. Once they make up their minds to finish a task, they keep on. They struggle and fail sometimes, but they continue trying. And they are praised for the effort, not the result. Even before test results come out, when they did their best, they are honored and commended. And yes, they have excellent grades — it is not because of talent, but practiced diligence.
In church last Sunday, after Communion, the priest announced a second collection. This was for the catechists, the volunteer teachers who go to various public schools to talk about Jesus to children who would like to listen and learn.
My son looked around. He motioned to me, “Can I give?”
“Yes, you may,” I replied.
He went to his mother to ask for money (my sons don’t yet have regular allowance). Then he went out of his seat to go to the lady collecting the funds. And he ran all the way back with a happy smile on his face.
I waited for a moment. Then at a time when both seemed ready to receive another lesson, I revisited the talk on Magis.
I spoke with his younger brother. I made sure that kuya (elder brother) was at hearing distance. I spoke of kuya’s generosity and initiative to share. “That is what practicing Magis means!” I exclaimed.
My younger son was in awe of his kuya. My kuya just beamed.