Who would believe I’d spend Php2,174.50 just for parking?

Well, I just did!

We were in Lipa City earlier.  My aunt has been texting us in the past two days that we should come for lunch as today is the city’s fiesta.  So we went.  But alas, it had to be a short visit, as I have forgotten to take Jude’s eye drops at home, and he really needs those for his ongoing eye treatment.  Nothing serious, but we need to be vigilant in following the doctor’s prescription as those are Jude’s eyes we’re talking about.

So, much as we’d also like to extend the visit to our friends’ house, we immediately headed home after lunch.  But I requested that we swing by BDO for a few minutes to get some cash.  Our best bet was the one at Robinson’s so we could avoid the killer traffic at the city proper.  The plan was that I’d be dropped off at the mall entrance and they’d park just near the entrance and wait for me there.  It being a Sunday, and the city’s fiesta at that, the parking was full, so Jojo drove around ’til he found a spot in front of National Bookstore.  Naturally, the kids wanted to go inside.  I was thinking, oh, they may be running low on origami papers and maybe they want to buy some.  So while I was at the ATM, they were left inside the store.

Joining them after a few minutes, I found Xia in front of the Classics shelf.  Uh-oh… Shakespeare again!  Then Jude came out of nowhere and then he was pulling me to another shelf, showing me a book of the Philippines and telling me how good it is.  I looked at the price and almost fainted.  It’s Php1,185.00. Oh, no!  How do I discourage him from getting this one?  Maybe a less expensive version is lying around somewhere?  So I frantically looked for one and found something for Php635.00.  But he wouldn’t have it. He wants that particular one.  Think!  Oh, maybe if I tell him that we have to use the money he’s been saving to go to Enchanted Kingdom, he’ll forget about this.

So I did.

“Ok lang po.  Mas gusto ko ang book.

While we were haggling over the book, Bea tugged at me and said, “Mommy, doon lang ako sa kabila.”  And I said, okay.  So off she went, while I continued to show Jude some books that are far less expensive.

He was getting impatient and was looking like he was about to cry.

“Mommy, ang kailangan mo lang, isang one thousand, isang one hundred, isang fifty, isang twenty, isang ten at isang five.”

Clearly, I was losing the battle.  So I took out the plastic card case that I’m using to keep his money and let him pull out the bills needed.  He stopped at twenty, as that’s the lowest denomination he has.

Paano ‘yan?  Wala ka nang ten.”

Tatlong five na lang, Mommy.”

Okay!  We’re buying this one.

Here comes Bea, with the book of Japan.  Price?  Php1,039.00.  Aaaargh!

“Are you sure you want this?  Are you sure you’ll read this?  It’s expensive!”

She just stared at me, with those about-to-cry eyes, then picked up another book.  “Ito na lang po.”

It was Basic Japanese.  And I remembered that we bought the Japanese Pronunciation book when we went to the book fair last year.  She finished that in one sitting!  And she practices the words with Jude.  So she must really be into this.  And Xia has been writing haiku.

Okay, let me see if I can do something about this.

I went to the cashier and inquired.  Could it be that this book may be up for a discounted price?

Oh, please, please, please!  Let it be on sale!  I’ve learned from being at National Bookstore so often, that there are items that are already identified with a permanent markdown, only they have not taken to changing the tags.  So when there is a book that we really want, we sort of ask first.  Or ask when the next sale event will be, for most of the books we buy are actually the not-so-popular ones.

And alas, it was!  For 50%.  Bea’s in luck!  My wallet is not.

Okay now, what about Xia?  I can’t be buying these two their books and deprive Xia of her Shakespeare. Earlier, I was telling her that those classics can be actually downloaded free from Amazon.  She just needs to install the Kindle reader in her PC.  But her dad butted in.  “Marge, she can’t bring the PC around.”  And we have not given her the liberty, yet, of bringing the laptop outside of the house.

Now here comes Jojo.  With three Shakespeare books.  Oh, no!

“They’re on sale, Marge.  From Php209.00, they’re on sale at Php100.00.”

Need I say more?

And so that was to be the most expensive parking ticket one can get in a free parking space.

I have to admit, though, that while I am here ranting about how much I had to spend on books outside of the family budget, deep inside, my heart is rejoicing that my kids have learned to love books early on.  I can’t remember a time that they ever asked for toys.  Except maybe at the height of Jude’s interest in cars, which was immediately overtaken by his interest in flags and geography.  But even then, Jude would even say no when we offer to buy him some more cars for his collection.  He was very discriminating when buying cars, as he was not just after the car per se.  He was looking for style, for functionalities, for a story that comes with it.

So now, as I am writing this post, Xia is already deep in the world of Othello.  And Bea is patiently waiting for me to cover her books so she can start reading.  It’s just like her to be obsessed about covering the books first, so they will be protected.  And Jude?  He’s already on a tour around Manila.

And as I’ve always said before, if a thief ever comes into our home, the only thing of value he can find are the books.  These are our treasures, as these are our way of giving our kids the window to the world.