HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2016 – 12:00am
Precious and few are the moments I get to spend time with my kids these days. They are all grown up now, living abroad and have lives of their own.
That is why last Thursday night was a special occasion. I had dinner with two of them, Ala and Mio, in Sydney where they now reside. Together with Kaylee, Mio’s girlfriend, we had dinner in Newtown, one of Sydney’s suburbs, at a delightful pizza place.
When our kids are young, we parents tend to worry too much. We are often on the lookout for their safety, their health, and their moral and ethical upbringing. We tend to be protective. We are always looking out for them like they are helpless creatures that won’t survive without our guidance. We are in a constant state of vigilance, concern and anticipation of anything that may happen. We are constantly thinking of what is good for them, giving them opportunities, supporting and leading them to the right direction.
Often, I find myself contemplating awful scenarios, and if I was asked to give up my arm, or even my life for any of them, I know I would gladly do so without hesitation.
But no matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect parents. We will make mistakes. All we can do is give our children all the love we can give. And our kids, even if they are heavily influenced by us, will come into their own in this world And that is how it should be.
It was a great feeling to be with Ala and Mio. We talked about a lot of things — their lives, mine, our relatives and friends, what the future will bring. and some what-could-have-beens. We also laughed. All this as we devoured our delicious pizza.
I remembered my mom. When I was 27 years old, like Mio is now, she would quietly enjoy watching her kids interacting, smiling with pride in the midst of our conversation. I felt like my mom last night. I sat there watching my kids unfold and express themselves and delighting in how wonderful they are. They had intelligent opinions. They were passionate. They were eloquent. They took pride in their work and their achievements. What I noticed is that they are quite comfortable being who they are. And best of all, they have grown into loving adults. And they get along.
After the dinner, we went to a bookstore that was still open. It was a secondhand bookstore that had an interesting collection of books, CDs and old vinyl records. I was amazed to know that Ala has read a lot of the classics as she pointed them out while we examined the shelves.
As I watched Ala and Mio go through shelf upon shelf of old and new books, I was beaming with joy and pride at my son and daughter. I was also happy to see that they are readers, a rarity now among millennials who like very short reads that are mostly summarized, having neither the time nor patience for real reading. Ala and Mio, and even Erica, who is in Paris, all like books.
As I looked at them, all I felt was gratitude and pride. I felt a deep sense of family bonding, even if my wife Lydia and Erica were not with us. To this father, seeing that they have gone a long way in creating their own lives that in turn nurture them and the people they love is a great achievement. I affirmed to myself that Lydia and I had raised them quite well. The sleepless nights, the hard, tedious daily work of raising them were all worth it. The hours spent reading to them, teaching them their ABCs and 123s and engaging them on many levels, the times when we had to dispense tough love for their own good — these things have all paid off.
As we walked back to the car on a cold wintry night, I had my arm around Ala. When we dropped her at her place, we said our goodbyes. I whispered, “I love you, anak. Ingat.”
I leaned back in the car. Mio had his music on. We sang along with his girlfriend all the way home. What a great Dad Moment.