I regret wishing for childhood to be over when I was five

The scariest part about growing up is seeing the people who took care of your younger self become older.

7 min readMay 31, 2024
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On the streets of San Jose plaza, I saw an ice cream man selling their infamous "dirty ice cream". Kids of my age flock around him, buying his famous ice cream in town. Feeling excited upon seeing the ice cream man, I looked up to nanay and asked her if we could buy an ice cream too. She said we could, the reason why I am now holding a big cone of three-flavored ice cream in my right hand. On my side was my nanay holding a pink handkerchief wiping away some sweat forming on my forehead, while also fanning the abaniko she was holding on her left hand.

It was a hot afternoon in April.

With a slightly throbbing head, I woke up from my usual afternoon nap because of a phone call. It was from my aunt. An emergency call. With my heart rapidly beating from nervousness, I answered it.

"Wala nang kilala si nanay. Ikaw na lang." (Nanay doesn't remember anyone anymore. Only you.)

I was bewildered, at a loss for words. How did it happen? When only a week ago we were just talking on the phone, asking each other how our day was.

Seeing her face on our phone call, looking at me as if I was a stranger she hadn't met yet in her life, tears started streaming down my face. For the first time in years, I sobbed so hard.

Suddenly, my mind was in rewind. Flashbacks of my childhood years in San Jose with my grandparents started playing in my mind.

On school days, I would wake up to the sound of the morning news on our old television while nanay was busy cooking our breakfast. The aroma of her freshly made coffee drink filling the air inside our little home. And when I’m done eating and taking a bath, my school uniform was already on my bed, as well as a packed snack that was already put inside my bag together with my school ID.

On weekends, I'll wake up to the sight of our backyard already filled with my newly washed laundry hanging on the laundry line she made herself. The morning breeze of the countryside hugged me as I made my way near nanay to watch her doing the laundry.

On rainy days, I would wake up to the smell of freshly made hot chocolate and freshly cooked Ho-mi beef noodle soup while the morning news on our television was playing in the background. A sixteen-year old me would sit on our dining table placed in front of our window, eat the noodle soup nanay made while looking outside the window. The lingering smell of the earth after the rain fills my nose, something I always love smelling. And when the world isn't done yet with crying, I'll listen to the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof while swaying my foot underneath the table. Both hands held the cup of my hot chocolate while I was carefully sipping on it, feeling the warmth spreading on my throat down my stomach. Behind me was nanay busy sipping on her morning coffee while watching the news.

On nights that I couldn't sleep because of a high fever, nanay would stay up late as well while constantly checking if my temperature had already gone back to normal. I'll call her a traditional old lady whenever she will use herbal medicine for my cough. Oregano, lampunaya, sambong, lagundi, and even ginger — these were all the herbal herbs and roots she would often boil in water or squeezed the juice out before making me drink them. Nature is indeed our very own miracle because I'll wake up feeling better than I was before I got sick. My nanay's gentle care and love for me healed me as well. She's my very own miracle.

My childhood, as well as my teenage years, in San Jose were just all my life's mundane days sewn together to create a fun and thrilling easy to read storybook. Those mundane days are what makes remembering my life with nanay something special, something spectacular.

When I look back at those mundane moments, suddenly they become significant moments of my entire life. They were what makes my outlook in life somehow better and positive.

That's why, imagine the pain I felt and how shattered my heart was when I heard the news of my nanay losing her memory due to a heat stroke. (Apparently, she suffered a mild stroke when her blood started clotting in her head due to too much heat affecting the part of her brain that controls her memory).

How painful it is to know that the person you shared most of your life growing up suddenly woke up one day not remembering anything at all? Even more painful is when she remembers only your name and your face in the picture, but when we called each other she could neither say my name nor recognize my face.

In the deepest part of my heart, I long for my childhood with her. I long for those mundane teenage days to come back. If God would bestow me with a superpower, I'll request time travel. I would travel back in time and re-live my life in San Jose. I'll go back to being five again. If I have to fight against Chronos so I can be in control of time, I will do it fiercely even if it means putting my life on the line.

Because what happened to nanay put me in deep thoughts…

When did I grow up?

The memories of my five, even sixteen, year-old self are so vivid. Didn't they just happen yesterday?

I am sure I was just a five year-old kid the other day running back to my nanay’s house while crying because the neighborhood kids made fun of me. I am sure I was just a sixteen year-old teen yesterday going back home from school soaking wet because my classmates and I decided to just walk home without knowing it would rain.

When did I turn into a twenty-one year-old young adult?

When I was five, I was so excited about what I would be like when I am finally in my twenties. When I was sixteen, I was so excited by the idea of finally becoming a young adult in my twenties doing things freely and on my own.

Now that I am in my early twenties, although excited about the next sunrise and what new experience of being a twenty-one year-old woman will unfold in front of me, all I am dreaming of is to go back to being a child in my grandmother's hometown again: walking down the streets of Caminawit with my childhood and teenage friends, laughing together over small things and teasing each other about something funny that happened in school. All while we were eating the ice cream we bought from the ice cream vendor selling his "dirty" ice cream outside our school.

Now I am walking up the street of Quartz alone while reminiscing about the time I was eating a "dirty" ice cream with my nanay at our hometown's plaza, as well as the fun walk back home with my friends while each of us were holding a ten-peso ice cream in cone. Knowing all too well I wouldn't be able to experience it again, my heart sank in pain and sadness.

On the quiet street of the gated hillside community of Citation, I am eating the twenty-five peso ice cream I bought at a store near Moonstone street while thinking of the mundane days of my childhood. It was the last hot sunny day in April, perfect for an ice cream treat.

I never knew growing up could be this painful too. When I was five, I thought growing up was exciting and full of fun because you can finally do whatever you wanted to do. I thought growing up only means finally getting a hold of your freedom.

No one told me growing up means outgrowing your childhood and teenage memories.

No one told me growing up means witnessing your parents, as well as your beloved grandparents, start getting their once black hairs gradually turn into gray and their faces now slowly wrinkling in time.

If I had known, I would have never wished to grow up faster when I was five. If I had known, I would have instead enjoyed the present and cherish the goofy and silly moments.

If I had known I would be outgrowing the mundane moments of my life in San Jose, I would have stayed longer at our dining table and savored the freshly made hot chocolate and noodle soup nanay made for much longer. If I had known, I would have been kinder and gentler to nanay instead of being too naughty and stubborn. If I had known, I would have told her countless times how much I love her and how lucky I am to have her as my grandmother. If only I knew.