The Acolyte and the Pet

By Amy Santos

April 2021

She was only three years old when Emily started acting like a devoted acolyte to her mother. The young child watched her mother carefully and was alert to follow her as she moved around to do her household chores. She was quick to guess, right or wrong, what her mother was looking for while cooking or cleaning the house. Emily would run to get what she thought was the right object. Her mother would thank her, gently pinching her small chin, whether in approval or not of what she handed to her. For her good intention, the very young acolyte was rewarded with toy clay pots and stove and toy broom from Antipolo, which also lessened interventions in adult housework.

Emily had a happy childhood at home and in school. But she found her school life quite different in her sixth grade in the elementary school. Her teacher was ignoring her and her raised hand to answer the former’s questions. Emily knew that her teacher had a favorite, Imelda. She did not care about this. She was only sad because their instructor-adviser did not recognize her raised hand, a blow on her effort during the night in reading and outlining her lesson for the next day because she could not carry heavy books from home to class and back. Neither students’ lockers nor big bags with rollers were in vogue that time.

Those were the days when it seemed that there were no bad persons or snatchers roaming around, and it was safe for both the young and the old to walk on any street. It was the time for a sixth grader belonging to a middle- class family to be given independence to walk with a classmate some 150 meters to the school. Emily enjoyed the walk to the school with her small schoolbag. However, on the way back home, the bag felt so heavy as if stooping herself because she felt bad when again she was not called to recite in her class. She kept to herself about her teacher’s attitude towards her. Nevertheless, she continued studying her lessons before going to school, hoping that one day the teacher would be nice to her.

One Saturday morning, while Emily’s mother was cleaning the room of his brother, a college student, and the self-appointed acolyte was dusting the bookshelf, a book suddenly fell from it. Emily sat down on the floor and opened that book, an English grammar book. She cut by the middle of it and found sentence diagramming, her very first time to see such a lesson in English subject. It fascinated her that there was a better way of showing the functions of the eight parts of speech. She immediately returned the book to the shelf when her mother called her for lunch.

Emily was back to school the following Monday. To her surprise, the teacher was asking the class to diagram the sentence that she had just written on the board. Of course, no one among them could immediately run to the board to oblige to her because it was not previously discussed. It seemed too good to be true but it did happen that his brother’s English book popped out of the bookshelf to prepare her for this opportune time. When the teacher asked again who could diagram it on the board, Emily raised her hand. Maybe, the teacher had realized that she had not taught this to her six grade class but to her high school or college students, that she paused for a while, but upon seeing one hand raised and it was Emily’s, maybe she thought, “Let me see this persistent girl”. But the confident young girl diagrammed the sentence with all the words in their proper positions. “Perfect!” commented the amazed teacher. From then the mentor-learner relationship between Emily and her teacher had improved a lot, until finally, Emily felt that she had already become her teacher’s pet. She got the high marks that she deserved and was included in all the school programs and activities with important roles. For Emily, all these were answered prayers.

Literally, Emily may not be a true acolyte, one soaked in the words of God as he assisted in religious services. But the love and care that her family showered upon her, the attention of former teachers, and the friendship of classmates exposed her to Christian values and practices. Like a true acolyte, she was a quiet but alert observer. Her silent battle without hurting her opponent, her teacher, was both a moral virtue and a Christian act.

So, it pays to be an acolyte, (no matter what the word denotes or connotes, or what righteous work is involved) to be a teacher’s pet.