Pygmalion, revisited

It’s exactly 11:36 PM tonight, 11th of September and I am still wide awake. I have no work tomorrow because of Eid al-Adha. With a bad movie playing on the background, I have some white noise to block out the rain outside. I also took this photo with my laptop camera for no apparent reason.

My "Hello 9/11" face

My “Hello 9/11” face

Anyway, it was a very eventful week. I got a great news before Friday ended. I will be flying to Thailand this October for about half a month. My friend, Becca, was unfortunately unable to come to the course and I had to go, instead of the supposed November schedule. I was the fourth person on the list and I was suddenly asked to jump in. Just imagine, about exactly a year ago, I was in Guam for work-related travel and a year after, here I am again. There are certainly things I have to be thankful for, considering I had this soliloquy more than four years ago and another one a year after. But I would like to go back to the latter one, as it is more pertinent to what has been bothering me lately. The Pygmalion effect has come into consciousness once again.

This weekend exhibited how much of a failure I think I was. I have lots of regrets, as I hoped I could have done more with my nephew’s schooling. He did not fare that well on a couple of things and it has affected him more than anyone else. When I had written about Pygmalion effect, I forgot to mention its corollary the golem effect.

They are actually quite simple; these two opposing self-fulfilling prophecies. You encourage someone that they are good, and they believe it. Do the opposite, and you are on hot water. I can frankly say that I haven’t done anything similar to the golem effect, but neither did I do something about the Pygmalion one, which was just as bad. But the bothering part, most especially, was how words uttered directly at a kid can affect how he views himself.

I would never encourage calling a kid as stupid or anything similar to that nor talk to them with an unfavorable tone of voice. Even with non-school related things, they will believe it. I believed so, too, when I was younger. I just hope adults could be more careful about this, no matter how angry we are at a situation. These kids will remember them until they grow old. I remembered the same things even from an incident that occurred way back in 1993 and another one in 1996. I remember these things vividly that I could recount the succeeding events as they had unfolded.

After all that has been said and done, I just realized that I am a father to my nephew and niece, and I should start acting like one. I feel so guilty focusing on my personal development that I forgot to give enough time to help on these kids academics. More than helping them go to school, I should more allot time to help them out with their homework. I might be here in Makati but I am always a phone call away. It is not too late, though, and I am positive that we can foster a new academic relationship moving forward. Hearing my nephew say he’d like to attend UP for college someday made me realize how big of a role I have to make his dream come true.

But for now, I just hope adults have more patience and let kids be kids. A little encouragement for everyone will help a lot. They are only young once and they must remember us to be the most supportive people more than anyone else. In the heat of an argument, we can say things we’d later regret. But not verbalizing the regret will not do anyone any good. Until two weeks ago, I believed what Dumbledore on choosing between what is easy and what is right. However, after I have read ‘Wonder‘, Mr Tushman also made sense: we must always choose being kind more than being right.


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