Broadly speaking, Leon grew up with me as the central parent figure. After growing up with his gran for the first 3 years, the following years after that (when he, his bro and I moved out to be ehem... independent) it was all me... and a whole village.
My bestfriend couldn't believe he was turning ten. "10 years old! But he's only 3!" And she fondly remembered how I would bring Leon to the office everyday and everybody else pitched in to take care of him. (I worked at women's non-govt org so everybody understood how it was to be alone and raise kids.)
Since we lived near the office, the office would pick us up if we had an out-of-town planning session, and we would be be there early in the morning, waiting. Leon was in his jammies, his arms around me like a koala bear; and me huffing and puffing to carry him. My friend remembers that out-of-town trip clearly. The boss laid out a mattress for then 3 yr-old leon, and he was sprawled there all day at our planning session, playing with quietly with action figures and coloring to his heart's content.
People used to call him "Pepe" then. A twist on the word "pipi" meaning dumb. The kid never talked to anyone, except to me.
Yeah, and he can't shut up now. The other week or 2, he announced he was done brushing his teeth by exclaiming "Spirit reaction confirmed!" with some arm movements. I winced in the background, wondering where all his dialogue came from.
When I had meetings out of the office, whoever was there would alternate inviting him to eat lunch since usually I had his meal prepared. But when there were surprise meetings and I had to leave unprepared, my co-workers would buy him lunch, and I would just repay them when I got back.
Or one time, he was already in kindergarten, I suddenly had a meeting, and my bestfriend picked him up from school and brought him to the office.
Such was life then.
Fast forward a few years later... I guess everybody's efforts were not worthless. This kid is a happy one, always makes friends everywhere we go (i guess the kids like him back), covertly manipulative and you don't notice because all you know is he is an ever-smiling boy. Smarts-wise, he's okay in the classroom, but much better in other brain activities like chess or strategizing or even -gasp!- googling for stuff. (yeah, that takes more brains than you'd admit.)
Yup, he seems okay. So far...
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