When people ask how many children there are in my family, I’d easily answer, “three, all boys, I’m the eldest” (where the middle’s a bluff, in case you don’t know yet). Being the eldest, I think my sense of responsibility matured faster. As I’d say, I’m a daughter with the sense of responsibility of a father because growing up in a dysfunctional family, I had to act that way for my mom and for my brothers. I’m not saying that I earned a living for them, but perhaps I strived to be their rock, someone my brothers could look up to when our parents weren’t there. Hence, I studied hard, struggled to get good grades and tried to live up to everyone’s expectations.
I grew up fast. I started working when I was 12 years old because my mom asked for my help after she set up a fruits shop one summer. From then on, I spent 10 consecutive summers working first for my mom, and eventually, for our family business because I thought it was cool to do stuff that adults do. It was later when I realized that I’ve just deprived myself of a childhood I can never rewind.
Ah, childhood. But I didn’t have anything to do back then. I was a boring kiddo.
In retrospect, I must’ve been a little jealous kid seeing my brothers watch racing and play remote-controlled cars with our dad when we were still little. My dad used to be a racer, by the way, and he’s very much into cars. He’s cool, I know. And as children looking up to their dad, we got to like automobiles and racing too probably because we wanted to be like him. We were his biggest fans in the world. I was his loudest cheerleader whenever he bagged trophies.
Sadly, I was never included in their little circle of car enthusiasts. I liked cars way before my brothers came into this world. As a toddler, I liked it when my dad would put me on his lap and allow me to hold the steering wheel as if I was the one driving. At age 9 or 10, I tried to understand the technicals of F1 racing just by watching, memorized the names of the drivers and their teams, and rooted for the same team as my dad. I also familiarized myself with car makes and models. But being sort of excluded, they didn’t know these things and I never complained for their lack of attention. I understood that it wasn’t a girl thing and kept myself away from their thing as much as possible. I understood that I had to be a spectator for most of my childhood and it wasn’t really nice.