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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Bonding in building

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Father’s Day was celebrated last weekend. I remember a chance conversation I had with a little boy named Seb, while waiting for a meeting to resume two years ago. He is the son of Paolo Periquet (Pao), founder of Magis Construction; and educator/commercial model Alexis Abello Periquet (Alexis). In those few minutes, I remember admiring a smart, insightful boy who was equally warm and gentle. He is now seven years old and just finished first grade. I thought it would be great to trace how strong bonds build a boy.

In my recent conversation with Seb, I asked him what makes him most proud of his dad. He said, “He taught me a lot of things. He’s so generous—like yesterday, he gave me a book about one of my most favorite topics, mysteries. Also, he gave me this giant Star Wars toy.” When asked what lessons he has learned from his dad that he would like to pass to his own children, he replied, “He taught me so much—about history, about the world around me, and I think about life, how life goes. Like when you’re a kid, you have friends; and when you get older, things start to change and you learn something new from each person….”

I was most struck when I asked him: What does your dad remind you of most often? His answer? “Get better every day. Before you go to bed, you thank God and after that you do well.”

These words made me curious about how Pao is as a father. Pao said: “I see a father as a guide. Pretty much like Yoda to Luke. He’s the hero of his story, and I’m the 900-year-old battle-tested teacher that hopefully imparts a useful thing or two. Being a ‘guide’ came naturally for me, but I can’t take credit for it. I married a marvelous person. I have wonderful parents and a great family. I’m surrounded by an incredible group of friends, too.”

Pao shared that one of the things he is most proud of Seb is his empathy, like how he always voluntarily holds his lolo’s hand, or how he checked-up on his lola when she was ill.

I admire how Alexis arranges what Seb calls his “hardworking day.” Seb happily described his day of doing chores, helping his mom cook, playing the piano, reading, spelling, studying math, and his “side chores” of “planting the garden.” It is also great that in the face of the issue of lack of social interaction among kids in this pandemic, Alexis arranges regular Zoom playdates with friends, weekly visits with a small group of family members, and phone conversations with Seb’s grandparents from Bacolod.

What also struck me when I visited their place then was his Playmobil collection. And as I would often hear Pao talk about Seb’s toy collections, it made me conclude how block play was a great source of father-and-son bonding for Pao and Seb.

“I grew up with Playmobil. It’s a great toy line—a figure comes with a generic face and a standard body. Their parts and accessories are interchangeable so a child can make his own heroes and villains, adventures and stories…. They’re so durable that I passed down my set from the 1970s,” shared Pao.

According to Pao, Seb started off with the Playmobil animals when he was a year old. Then he graduated to the knights and history lines when he was three. Pao saw how Playmobil directed Seb’s curiosity. “When he had the animal sets, he wanted to learn more about them,” said Pao.

Pao added that Seb’s knights sets sparked his interest in history, particularly the medieval and Roman era. It got him into reading books about castles, warfare and the famous personalities of those periods. Travel also became more worthwhile because he enjoyed touring historical sites and museums as much as he did going to toy stores and zoos.

Seb shared to me that his latest interest is in the series Novelmore, where there are two sides of water and fire. Pao shared: “He came to the office once, saying he was going to apply for a job with Playmobil. He had drafted a letter, saying he had ideas for them. He must’ve been four, but he was quite resolute.”

Lego was also something that Seb had an early start with. He had Duplo blocks that he used to build towers, then later on building sets and vehicles, like the fire engine in the Lego City series. Pao appreciates that Lego gives a sense of accomplishment after a child completes an instructed build, then it can become anything the imagination wants it to become. It allowed Seb to freely build structures and got him interested in architecture.

For me, I believe finding this common interest in building blocks is a perfect example on how play sets one of the many great stages for happy family learning and bonding. It is not just the toy, but the time spent playing with our kids. In as much as we want to impart all the values and teachings to our kids, I think play has been my best way to communicate with my own children, as is the case with Pao, Alexis and Seb.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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