It takes time to get better at anything | Inquirer Entertainment

It takes time to get better at anything

By: - Columnist
/ 11:33 PM January 25, 2012

A few days ago, I tweeted that I had become that mom: the one who shuttles her kid to and from activities throughout the week. The one that my own mother was, back in my prepubescent days, when she took me to tapings, recording sessions, dance classes and theater rehearsals. It’s my turn now to take Nicole to art classes, swimming and ballet.

While I’m on my little hiatus, I’m trying as much as possible to spend time with my little girl. Kids grow up too fast—Nicole will turn 6 this May, and I find myself asking where the time has gone. Imagine the mountain of tissue paper I will have consumed by the time she turns 18, or on the day she gets married!



Last Saturday morning, she decided to ride her scooter, which we gave her as a Christmas present. (We were in the United States last December and she wanted to ride her cousin Christopher’s scooter. She wasn’t able to, so when we got back to Manila, we got her a purple and blue Razor with a fuchsia helmet.)


She was sailing on her scooter smoothly up and down our street. Rob and I were beaming with pride at how wonderfully she has learned. And then, just as she was about to start up again, while practically standing still, she fell and scraped her elbow.

She howled in pain, shedding copious tears. Rob and I ran to her side, reassuring her that she would be okay. I hurried her to the bathroom to wash out the wound and put some antibiotic ointment. At that point we told her to lay off the scooter until we got her more protective gear.

Imagine our frustration when, on a shopping trip the very next day, we came up empty-handed. Not one elbow or knee pad in sight at either the mall or smaller bike/skate stores.

One sunny day at swim class, while being instructed to put her head underwater, do a series of kicks, straighten her arms and paddle, my daughter said, very loudly and clearly: “I don’t want!”

However, my trust in the teacher superceded Nicole’s screams of defiance, and as he coaxed her back into the water, I calmly sat and waited until her lesson was done.

As it turned out, she did exactly what she needed to, and had a great time at it. (Getting her out of the water is much more difficult now than putting her in.)

Flashback to my early days in Repertory Philippines: I was with a bunch of little kids rehearsing, while my mother sat in the background.


In a moment of frustration, the director let out a string of high-decibel expletives that would make even a sailor blush. One of the mothers, having had enough, stood up from her seat, took her daughter by the hand, and with a stinging “Come on, hija, let’s go,” marched out of the rehearsal. My mother, in a rare moment of silence and stillness, decided to tough it out and let me stay.

In another flashback, on the first day of my working with the dog that would be Sandy in “Annie,” I got nipped in the face, close to my eye. Yes, there was crying and I did my share of howling, but after getting my wound cleaned, I got back to finish work for the day. Thankfully, a trained dog replaced the one that got me injured. I guess that was my equivalent of putting on protective gear and getting right back out there.

Transcending the fall

It’s a lesson we’re trying to teach Nicole—to stick with something that you’re interested in, once a commitment to learning has been made. As a parent I cannot give in to the temptation to take her out of a class just because she says, “It’s too hard … I can’t do it … I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Whether it be dance or sports, I want Nicole to learn that it takes time to get better at anything. She’ll fall a few more times in the course of all that, but she’ll need to transcend the fall and get right back up again.

(I say this with the experience of skinned knees, blisters, sprained ankles, vocal injuries, bad reviews, even bad fashion choices.)

Oh, Nicole has now also expressed an interest in soccer.


I know this is belated, but congratulations to all the members of the newly formed Philippine Theater Actors Guild. It is an honor to serve as a member of your board of trustees.

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TAGS: Lea Salonga, mothering, Nicole Salonga Chien, Repertory Philippines
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