The Weekend Farmer Dad Who Got Outsmarted by His Toddlers
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
Welcome to Esquire's Journal Project. This month, we're featuring the real lives of fathers, pops, sugar daddies, busy zaddys, and more. We're asking all sorts of fathers to give their unfiltered accounts of what it's like to lead a family in the strangest of times. Here are their stories.
Today, we take a peek into the weekend life of a top ad agency CEO, who also happens to be a farmer. On one weekend, he takes his kids to his 10-hectare farm in Tarlac, where the toddlers find appreciation for the simpler things, but also unexpectedly teach their dad about life’s most important lessons.
I wake up to tend to the vegetable garden and rice field. I pick ampalaya from the garden, carefully selecting the best ones for my family’s breakfast.
Liora (my two-year-old) and Riego (my three-year-old) wake up.
I come back to the house with freshly picked ampalaya. I prepare it for breakfast. It’s a simple countryside recipe.
Liora and Riego excitedly bit on the ampalaya. “Charap!” says Riego, finishing the whole fruit.
I realize ampalaya is actually a delicious fruit, especially when no one tells you it is not. One of my biggest joys as a father is how I don’t have to force my children to like the good stuff.
It was a packed day. I have just finished with meetings on Zoom, a little annoyed because the meetings did not proceed quite as planned.
I take my eyes off my computer and notice Riego, my three-year-old, is watching DinoTrucks on Netflix, unsupervised.
“Rigeo, happy ako na behave ka,” I tell him. “Pero hindi ako ganoon ka-happy na nanoood ka lang ng TV.”
“Ako happy,” he replies.
And that hit me.
I should not take out my stress on my family, and when it’s past 6 p.m., I should stop working and my kid should be allowed to watch DinoTrucks.
It’s a wild morning with the toddlers. We have been play fighting, pretending to be different kinds of superheroes. Palakasan kami ng superheroes.
Riego: Rawrrr! Ako Piderman!
Dad: Rawrrr! Ako Batman!
Liora: Rawrrr! Ako Superman!
It kept escalating.
Dad: “Rawrrr! Ako Optimus Prime!”
Riego: “Rawrrr! Ako Dinosaur!”
Dad: “Rawrrr! Ako T-Rex!”
Thinking about what could possibly kill a T-Rex, my Liora shouts.
“Rawrrr! Ako King Kong!”
It was my turn. I had to bring out the big guns. Nevermind that they are toddlers. I shamelessly spit out the most powerful kaiju in fictional existence.
“Rawrrr! Ako Godzilla!”
A pause. It was Riego’s turn. He was thinking of who or what could beat Godzilla.
And then, “AKO MAMA!” yells Riego.
First lesson learned: Mama is the best and no one can beat Mama.
Second lesson learned: Never say “Rawrrr! Ako Papa!”