Bye at the Window

It’s autumn here in our part of the world and the leaves are changing colors. We see them everyday as we peek through our windows. In fact, we can watch the time go by through our windows and witness not just the changing of the leaves.

When our son was much younger, he would always tell us when we leave to wave goodbye at the window. So as our car would pull out of our driveway, he would be watching at the window and waving goodbye. He would feel bad if we would not wave back at him. It was his some sort of reassurance that everything would be alright. He would do this especially with his mom that it became their tender ritual. So when my wife would leave him even for a very short errand he would say, “Bye at the window, Mom.”

Children seems to have a hard time dealing with being left behind. Remember the first time we let them sleep alone in their bedroom? They would do all kind of delaying tactics so that we would not have to leave them in their room for the night.

Like, “Can you check for spiders on my bed?” “There’s none left, the monster under your bed ate them all.”

Or, “Can I have another drink of water?” “That’s your 5th glass of water, you will pee on the bed.”

I don’t know about you, but our kids did something similar. However we had to be firm in our actions so they would develop that sense of independence.

Maybe you remember when you dropped your kids on their first day of school in kindergarten. Perhaps some of them clung tightly at your skirt or perhaps they wrapped around your leg and would not let go. We have not really experienced dropping our kids in kindergarten since we homeschooled them, but I just wonder what kind of fiasco they could have done.

Our kids are grown up now. Our daughter has been gone for a few years and is almost done with college, while our son is a junior in high school. He still home schools, but he now attends some Advanced Placement classes in a community college nearby. He also drives now, and a couple of months ago his driver’s license was upgraded that he can drive all by himself but still has a restriction that he cannot drive alone after midnight or before five o’clock in the morning.

Few weeks ago, my son humorously told my wife (*in a deeper voice too*), “Bye at the window, Mom.” But this time it was he who was leaving, and my wife was the one waving goodbye at the window.

My wife said that it really felt weird and different this time. She felt so nostalgic as my son was pulling out of our driveway and she waved goodbye at the window for the longest time until the car made a turn at the street corner and disappeared from her sight.

There is definitely a twinge of sadness on these rites of passage. Yet, they must come to pass.

I think we had it wrong all along. It is not our kids, but it is us parents who have a hard time letting go.

(*photo taken by my wife as my son drives away)

Bracing for Snow

There’s no question that snow is beautiful. It blankets everything in white. But shoveling and clearing your driveway, and worse yet, driving on it is something else. It is at the least treacherous, especially during a major snowstorm with more than a few inches of snowfall.

Iowa State Capitol Building (photo courtesy of KCCI)

However if you live in a place that has significant snow accumulation in winter, like here in Iowa, you need to deal with it. Driving in snow is a skill that you need to develop through experience.

Last week, we had consecutive days of heavy snowfall. There was a lot of cancellation in our clinic appointments as patients decided not to come as they deemed the roads were not safe.

I went home early and sure enough as I was driving down the interstate, there were several cars that were abandoned as they had fallen in the ditch. There were several reports of collisions too. Oh the joy of slipping and sliding in winter driving.

When I arrived home, the snow was still falling. With about 4 or 5 inches on the ground already and no sign of letting up, I called my son down. I told him that we were going to drive in snow.

My son got his driver’s permit a few months ago. He cannot drive alone, but only when there’s an adult in the car. Yet he needs to gain experience to drive in snow. He needs to develop the skill. I thought, this was the perfect opportunity for him to do so.

I am far from being the most expert driver or the most skilled in driving in snow. But I have several years of experience in driving in this weather, and my best qualification to teach him is that I am his father. I know what is best for my kids. Plus our car is an all-wheel drive with high ground clearance, built to play in rough terrain.

First we drove around our neighborhood. I let him slam the brake when we were going downhill and let him feel the car sliding. Of course nobody was on the road except us, so we were never in danger. When my son gained some confidence, we went out in the highway to let him experience real driving in snow with cars tailing and passing us.

After almost an hour of driving, we went home.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my daughter who was in college a couple of hours away. She said that she was supposed to go somewhere but snow was starting to fall. I sensed some alarm in her voice and she was not feeling confident in driving in snow. She was asking if she should go or not.

My daughter has been driving for a couple of years, but have not driven in snow by herself. If I could only go to where she was, I would, but she was far away. So I did what I think was best. I advised her to drive slowly and carefully. I told her that sooner or later she would have to drive in snow but she should be fine. Besides the snow was a couple of inches only.

Even though I sounded convincing when I talked to her, in my heart I had some fear. But I know I had to let her fly on her own. I know she needs to build her confidence. I know she needs the experience to be independent.

I was relieved when she texted later that she made it to her destination safely.

As parents, we don’t stop parenting even if our children are grown-up. Their challenges may be different now. It’s not about the big spider on the wall anymore, or about a difficult math equation, or a bully in the playground. But their challenges may be bigger. Would I pass this college course, or would I find a job, or would my salary be enough, or would I find a niche in this world?

I hope I have equipped and prepared my children in facing the snowstorms in life. And I don’t mean just driving in snow.

A Passenger

Would you like to be a driver or a passenger?

Many of us would probably choose to be the driver, for we want to be in control. However, there are certain journeys in life where being a passenger is more delightful.  And just enjoy the ride.

Eight years ago, I was a passenger to my son’s playful dream (see original post here).

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Today, I am really his passenger.

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Even though it can be uneasy, I will savor this passage.

Who knows what’s next on this journey, but I am looking forward to it.

(*photos taken by the passenger)

For Fathers Who Aren’t In Heaven

Sad stories are life’s reality. Several weeks ago I heard one sad story. It was told by a young man, but he did not even relayed it to me. I just overheard it.

We were in a youth camporee, and I went there as a supervising adult (see previous post). There were more than 300 boys and girls from several youth clubs that came to that camping.

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evening worship at the camp

One morning in the boy’s public bathroom, I was in one of the toilet stalls minding my own business. There was no phone signal in the camp, so I cannot surf the web on my smart phone to keep me entertained. I was just watching a small spider spinning his web at one corner of the stall.

(Sorry, this is my second post in a row that discuss something about restrooms. It is not my intention to turn this blog into a toilet talk, but just bear with me, for there’s a good point I want to make here, I promise.)

Then I heard people came to the restroom. I believe there were at least two boys who came in. While brushing their teeth and perhaps washing their faces at the lavatories, they started a conversation.

After some small talk and introducing themselves to each other, like their name and what youth club or place they came from, one boy opened up with a very personal information. I was not being nosy nor eavesdropping, but as the wash basins were just a few feet from the toilet stall I was in, I heard all their conversation.

“I never knew who my father is, for I never met him,” one boy confessed.

He added that he met his real mother when he was eleven years old, but her mother never told him who his real dad is. Then he said that his mother told him that she gave him away for adoption for he was a “blue baby” when he was born. “I was blue as a Smurf,” he quipped. Her mother thought that she cannot take care of him due to his condition, so she gave him away.

As a medical doctor, I know that “blue babies” have an anomaly in their heart or in their circulation causing poorly oxygenated blood to course into their arteries giving the bluish discoloration of their skin. Unless a life saving procedure or surgery is done immediately, they will not survive. Most likely this boy underwent such surgery.

I know this boy is a survivor. Yet he might had the corrective surgery to close a hole in his heart, but the void and longing in his heart for love, especially from a father he never knew, was never filled.

Like a priest inside a confession box, except that I was in a toilet stall, I heard all this heart-breaking confession of a young man without him seeing me. Most likely he didn’t even know I was there listening to his story. He is not aware that the walls, even the very private toilet walls, have ears.

I would like to break out from the stall I was in and give this young man a big hug, but given the situation and place, that may be deemed inappropriate. Perhaps even scandalous.

The thing is I know his first name, his age, where he is from, and what club he is a member of, but I never saw his face. By the time I was done with my business, and came out of the stall, the two boys were gone.

My heart was broken just listening to that sad story. I can just imagine what heartache that boy was feeling. I just hope he finds the love he was looking for even if he has no father. Though one thing for sure, “our Father who art in heaven,” loves him and I pray that he realized that.

This made me thinking, that fathers who aren’t in heaven, me included, have such a great responsibility. We may never change the world singlehandedly, but we are given this distinctive duty and privilege to make a positive impact in the precious lives of our children. And perhaps if all fathers will do that, then the world will change.

For you fathers who may be reading this, or for you young men or even boys who will be fathers some day, I hope we all rise up to this challenge.

Have a happy and meaningful Father’s Day.

Kurot, Pingot, at Tsinelas

Kung ikaw ay nakaranas na makurot, mapingot, at ma-tsinelas noong bata ka, ay sigurado akong alam mo na kung ano ang tatalakayin ng sulating ito. Hindi ko ikinakaila, ngunit hindi ko rin naman ipinagyayabang na naranasan ko ang kurot, pingot, at tsinelas. Siguro nga ay makulit talaga ako noong bata.

Iba’t iba ang pamamaraan ng pagpapalaki at pagdidisiplina ng mga bata. Mayroong mga naniniwala sa palo. Sabi nga ng isang salawikain, “spare the rod, and spoil the child.” Sangayon din sa banal an kasulatan: Siyang naguurong ng kaniyang pamalo ay napopoot sa kaniyang anak: nguni’t siyang umiibig ay nagpaparusang maminsan-minsan (Prov. 13:24).

Mayroon din namang hindi sangayon na paluin ang mga bata. Sa katunayan ay may malaking debate ngayon kung dapat ba o hindi dapat paluin ang bata. Maraming mga pag-aaral at pagsasaliksik sa ngayon ang nagsasabing hindi raw epektibo ang pamamalo sa bata, at marahil ito lamang ay nakakasama sa kanilang pag-unlad.

Kamakailan lamang ay may panukalang batas sa Pilipinas na isinampa at pumasa sa Kamara, ang House Bill 4907, o ang tinaguriang ‘Positive Discipine Act’. Ito ay nagbabawal sa mga marahas na pamamaraan ng pagdidisiplina sa mga bata, kasama na rito ang pamamalo sa tahanan man o eskwelahan. Sa aking pagkakaalam ay hindi pa ito pumapasa ng Senado.

Dito sa Amerika, ay may karapatan pa rin naman ang mga magulang na paluin ang kanilang mga anak. Ngunit may mga limitasyon na iba’t iba sa bawat Estado. Maraming mga magulang dito ang nagdadalawang isip na paluin ang kanilang mga anak dahil maari silang isumbong sa pulisya at sampahan ng pang-aabuso.

Totoo naman talaga na ang pagpalo bilang pagdidisiplina at pagpalo bilang pag-aabuso sa mga bata ay makitid na linya lamang ang pagitan. Marami akong mga naririnig sa balita na may mga batang sadya namang naabuso at sinaktan sa ngalan ng “disiplina.” Ngunit akin pa ring pinapaniwalaan na walang magulang na nasa tamang pag-iisip ang gustong saktan o bugbugin ang kanilang sariling anak.

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Balik tayo sa aking mga naranasan noong ako’y bata pa.

Ang kurot at pingot ay kalimitan mga “spur of the moment” na parusa na aking napala. Pero paminsan -minsan ay winawarningan naman ako ng aking nanay – “Pag-hindi ka umayos ay kurot ang aabutin mo.” Malimit ang kurot ay sa tagiliran o sa singit. Ang pingot, sa aking pagkakaalam ay sa tenga lang. Pinipingot din ba ang ilong? Kung ganoon, sana naging matangos na ako ngayon.

Ang palo naman ay kadalasan planado na sentensiya. Pinapahupa muna ng aking nanay at tatay ang kanilang galit, bago kami padapain at paluin. Karaniwan sang-ayon sa bigat ng kasalanan kung gaano karami ang hampas. Sa puwet o sa hita madalas ang palo. Maari rin naman sa kamay.

Tsinelas ang madalas na pamalo ng mga magulang. Ang gamit ng nanay ko ay pambahay na tsinelas, kaya medyo malambot lang ang hagupit. Kahit pa ba mumurahing tsinelas, o deklaseng  yari sa Marikina, o imported pa na tsinelas, ay wala sigurong tunay na pagkakaiba. Buti na lang at hindi nagsusuot ng bakya ang aking nanay! Masakit kayang mapalo ng bakya?

Kung tatay naman ang mamamalo, ay maaaring sinturon ang gagamitin. Malimit ay leather belt, gaya ng balat ng kalabaw o baka, kaya medyo mataginting ang sakit. Natikman ko rin na masinturon ng aking tatay. Hindi ko na matandaan ang aking kasalanan, pero alam ko lagi kong pinapaiyak ang aking nakababatang kapatid noon, kaya siguro ako nasinturon. Mapalad ka kung hindi nagsusuot ng sinturon ang tatay mo. Pero kung walang sinturon, ay baka naman dos por dos ang ipanghambalos. Lalong mas masakit yata iyon.

Hindi lamang sa bahay, ngunit kahit sa paaralan, ay may mga guro na namamalo bilang pagdidisiplina sa kanilang estudyante. Hindi naman ako napalo noong ako’y nasa paaralan  na, dahil medyo matino na ako noon. Pero napagalitan at naparusahan lang ako ng kaunti nang makipag-away ako noong Grade 2. Nakipagsapakan ako dahil lang sa jolens!

May naging titser din kami na madalas mamalo. Kahoy na ruler ang gamit nitong pamalo. Isang araw, isang makulit kong kaklase ang naglagay ng cardboard sa loob ng kanyang shorts, dahil alam niyang papaluin siya. Lumagutok ang cardboard ng paluin na siya! Lalong nagalit ang aming guro, at sa hita na lang siya hinagupit at naparami pa yata ang palong inabot niya.

Noong Grade 4 naman kami, ang titser namin ay isang matandang dalaga na talaga namang “old school.” Mayroon pa nga siyang maliit na sandbox sa sulok ng aming classroom, na butil ng munggo ang laman. Dito pinapaluhod niya ang mga estudyanteng pasaway. Sa aking pagkakatanda, ay isa lang naman na kaeswela ko ang pinaluhod sa munggo. Kung si Sharon Cuneta ay may pelikula na “Bukas, Luluhod ang mga Tala,” ang aking kaeswela ay starring sa “Bukas, Luluhod ang mga Munggo.”

May mga narinig din akong mga guro na nambabatok. Pero wala naman akong guro na gumagawa nito. Kasi sabi nila nakakabobo raw kapag binabatukan ka, dahil maaring maalog ang utak. Iyon ang sabi-sabi noong bata pa ako. Alam na kaya nila noon ang tungkol sa concussion protocol?

Bilang isang magulang ay namalo rin naman kaming mag-asawa sa aming mga anak. Ngunit napakadalang lang nito at parang tapik lamang, dahil nadadaan naman ang pagdidisiplina sa ibang pamamaraan. Katunayan, mas namamalo ang aking misis kaysa sa akin. Gamit namin ay maliit na tangkay ng halaman (twig). Malambot ito, at tama lang na umigting sa balat kapag pinalo.

Noong maliit pa ang aming mga anak, minsan ay nawala at hindi namin makita kung saan napunta ang aming “pamalo.” Nakita namin ito ilang araw ang lumipas na nakasuksok sa si likod ng pantry. Isang beses din ay nakita namin ang “pamalo” na bali-bali at nasa basurahan. Umamin din naman ‘yung aming bunso na siya ang may kagagawan noon. Katwiran niya, para hindi raw siya mapalo. Matalinong bata!

Para sa akin hindi mahalaga kung ano man ang gamit mong pamalo: maging kamay, tsinelas, sinturon, o tangkay ng puno. Ang mahalaga ay ang kasamang pagmamahal na kaakibat ng iyong pagdidisiplina sa kanila. Sa mga magulang na tulad ko, namamalo man kayo o hindi, ang mas importante pa rin ay ang mapagmahal na relasyon ninyo sa inyong mga anak.

Oo nga’t natsinelas ako ng aking nanay, at nasinturon ng aking tatay. Ngunit hindi ko na matandaan ang sakit ng mga iyon. Dahil ang akin lamang natatandaan ay ang kanilang pagmamalasakit at pagmamahal sa akin at sa aming magkakapatid.

Kung hindi nila ako dinisiplina noon, anong landas kaya ang aking tinahak? At saan kaya ako pupulutin ngayon?

Pinapasalatan ko pa rin ang mga kurot, pingot, at tsinelas.

 

 

Flowers for My Daughter (Reloaded)

Six years ago, I had this post (see original post here):

Flowers for My Daughter

Today is my daughter’s 12th birthday. And this is her first birthday to be away from home and from us, as she is currently with my relatives in California for a short vacation. Besides greeting her over the phone, I also did send her flowers.

It just seems yesterday that my little girl was just playing in the dirt and picking wild flowers and dandelions in our yard. She will collect the dandelions and put them in a cup with water, and then she will give them to mom.

I think it is interesting that she finds beauty in the dandelions while I find them a nuisance weed that needs to be killed at all cost, even if I use enough herbicide to poison a whole town. That just prove that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Now, my little girl is not little anymore as I want to believe. Where did time go?

I know not very long from now, boys will be giving her flowers for her birthday, for Valentine’s, and for no occasion at all. I just want to be the first one to do so. And when that day (that every father dreads) comes, when she will walk down the aisle with a bouquet of flowers in her hands, I hope she remembers who gave her, her first flowers.

If you do the math, then you’ll deduce how old my daughter is now. Time really flies. I still have a hard time believing this too.

In a few months she will be off to college and will be leaving home. There will be one empty room in our home. No one in that room that I would nudge out of bed if she won’t get up even after her two alarm clocks went off. No one to gently remind to hurry up if she’s taking her sweet time in the shower. No one to holler to to get out of her room and come down for dinner. No one in that room that I would say good night to. And no one from that room that would answer back “Good night Dad.” No one to……..

Sorry. Maybe I’m just over reacting. Or maybe I’m a hopeless sentimental fool. Is it full moon?

But even if she’s away and not home anymore, I still can send her flowers, right? Just like before, when she turned 12.

Today, I just did. Even if she’s not away.

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(*photo taken with an iPhone)

 

Over the Hill

A few months ago we got our son a new bike. He is growing so fast that he has outgrown his kiddie bike. He’s undergoing a growth spurt like he’s being stretch, and probably grew a couple of inches this past year. He’ll outgrow a shoe size after only a few months.

And what size is his bike now? It’s a full size bike. Same as mine.

Gone are the days of kid trikes, or training wheels, or youth-size bikes. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was teaching him how to ride, and he won’t let me let go of his bike for fear that he would fall. It also took a lot of convincing before he allowed us to take off the training wheels. Now he’s fearless.

Last weekend, my son and I went out for a bike ride. It was the perfect weather for a ride, not hot, nor too cold, just cool enough to break a sweat under the sun. We rode for about an hour over several miles, through paved roads and dirt roads, and up and down some hills.

We have hybrid bikes – a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Light and fast enough on paved roads, but sturdy enough to handle dirt and trail roads.

Before when we would go for a bike ride, I would have to slow down or even stop especially when we ride uphill. Or I will hear him call, “Dad, wait up!” His small legs just cannot pedal fast enough to keep up.

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But this time, it was quite different. On two occasions, as we rode up a steep hill, it was him who had to slow down or even stop. Why? To wait for his old man. I am eating his dust!

What happened? Certainly the lots have changed.

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I would like to think that it was his bike, which is newer, perhaps lighter, and with more gears than mine, that made the difference, that’s why I cannot keep up with him. But I know it’s more than that.

Or I can use the excuse that I have to stop to take pictures. Or perhaps I just want a slower ride. And maybe stop once in a while to smell the roses. Or sniff his dust?

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My son is certainly ascending. While I may be over the hill, though I refuse to admit it. And I’m not even talking about biking.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)