Ai-ai, the eldest was taught to cook rice, Aireen the second was tasked to sweep the floor and Baby, the youngest was assigned to empty the bedpan every morning. Aside from their jobs, they were also scheduled to wash the dishes.
In the beginning, the kids took pride of their new responsibilities and tried to outdo each other at the tasks assigned to them, particularly washing the dishes (they were to learn a few days later that washing dishes is not that pleasant and has been an immortal bone of contention between siblings in almost all families worldwide).
As expected, the excitement eventually wore off. The dishes used during breakfast would remain unwashed til a little before lunchtime and prodding the kids to follow their schedules proved to be energy-taxing. Dishes will only be washed after much grumbling, mumbling and feet shuffling.
Every day, the quantity of my sister’s plates and glasses started to dwindle as each girl took her turn in “accidentally” breaking a plate or glass, and each time each girl would claim that the plate or glass was slippery.
After noticing that the girls are always in a hurry every time they wash dishes, hence the ‘breaking’ incidents,
my sister finally decided to issue an ultimatum that the next time anybody breaks anything while washing dishes is going to get a good spanking.
The girls didn’t take her seriously at first but when she demonstrated that she meant what she said, the ‘breaking incidents’ eventually reduced. The three girls got each a share of spanking but after a week, my sister didn’t have to pick up shards of broken glass from the floor or sink anymore. Each girl tried to be extra careful.
It became ingrained in the girls’ minds that whoever breaks any plate or glass will be spanked and that worked successfully.
One day my father came on a three-day visit to my sister’s house in Tagum. Having practically grown up spoiled by their grandpa, the girls rarely left him alone. They pressed around him and quarelled who gets to sleep beside him or sit next to him at mealtimes.
While having dinner on the last night of his visit, my father accidentally dropped a glass on the floor during a meal. A deathly silence followed the shattering of glass as three sets of eyes automatically turned to my sister.
The girls were naturally expecting that my sister will give their grandpa a good spanking for the broken glass.
“You’ll have to be spanked for breaking a glass, Yong,(the kids call their grandpa ‘Oyong’ instead of Lolo),” the youngest daughter spoke up after a long stretch of silence.
My sister stood up to pick the pieces of broken glass but Baby stood up too. She then proceeded to the corner where the broom being used to spank them was placed and solemnly handed it to her mother.
My sister was at a loss for words. She had a hard time explaining that what happened was an accident and their grandpa did not break the glass because he was fuming about washing dishes.
Although the girls didn’t immediately see the difference, they were relieved that their granpa was spared from spanking.*