Sunday, September 19, 2004

Letting Go

Do you know how a child feels when he let go of a balloon that he loves so much? Or how it feels when you set a bird free, after you took care of it in its cage for so many years? Or of letting your fish swim in the ocean, after it has swam in your aquarium for so long? That’s how I felt when I left my son this morning in school, to join his classmates and teachers to go on a field trip. Of course, you might say that the metaphor isn’t right, because balloons, fishes and birds don’t come back. But my son will surely go home after the trip. Nonetheless, the feeling of fear and anxiety doesn’t differ… perhaps more intense.

Actually, this feeling isn’t really new to me. I felt the same way the first day that I left my boy in school. I was able to survive that, what would make a difference now? I don’t know, but as I was walking away this morning, frequently looking back, I can’t help but worry. Looking at him, so young, small and fragile, after all, he is only eight years old, in the company of absolute strangers, well at least to me. The irony of it all is that my son doesn’t show any sign of fear or anxiety. He looks so happy talking to his friends, mixing, blending, and loosing himself in the crowd, without even looking to check if I’m still there. Maybe that’s what I fear, to realize that my son can already take care of himself.

Ralph Emerson gave me my first taste of fatherhood. Everything that I know about being a father, I owe it all to him. Nobody taught me better than my son, as I walk through life with him, I learn new things everyday. It’s like seeing it all for the first time, through the eyes of a child. And now, he is teaching me again another new thing, that of letting go… too soon. Just when I thought that I was ready for anything that life can give me, now this. I wasn’t prepared for this, I don’t think I ever will be. Again, it’s too soon.

Like they always say, being a father is a tough job. You got to work hard, to be able to provide your children all their needs. You got to be tough, to be able to discipline them. You have to teach them to be good and God-fearing citizens. You have to guide them so that they won’t go in the wrong direction. You have to be tough, in times of trouble for them to feel secure. And you got to be good, to serve as a role model for them. Well, guess what? Those were the easy parts. You have to be tough, to be able to let go. To be distant when you’re not needed to be around. To accept the fact that your child has grown up.

Perhaps, the father needs the son more that the son needs the father. For through the son, the father develops a sense of confidence and a feeling of security. For through the son, the father has someone who sincerely looks up to him, through the son, the father has enough motivation that can push him through the hardest of times. And only through the son, the father can be.

Now that my son has a taste of freedom, he may like it. He may develop self-confidence, he may discover that he can take care of himself. When that happens, does that mean that I’m through? Am I done being a father? See? I told you. Nothing can make a father more secure than a child that he can be a father to.

You can teach your child lots of things. He may easily grasp some things, while he may have difficulty learning other things. But I think the hardest thing to teach is independence. Because for a child to be independent, you got to let him be independent. That means, no breathing over his shoulders, no checking every five or ten minutes and no looking back when you walk away. It means, you got to let go. Loosen your grip, cut that imaginary string, break those invisible bounderies. You got to let go. It means you also have to be independent from your child. Trust that you have taught him enough, that you have established enough foundation that could carry your child through. Move back and let go.

As I am filled with anxiety and worries about my son going on field trip, I am also excited in meeting him tonight. Back home from field trip, his first field trip. Seeing through his eyes, all the things that he has seen, and I’ll listen to him patiently as he tells me, perhaps with enthusiasm, all the places that he has been, all the things that they did, and everything that he learned today… without me.

September 15, 2000
4:27 PM


Anonymous said...

that really touched me.
i can't imagine myself letting go of my son when time comes, but you made me realize that i have to...
i just hope i could.
nice thought...

Roy said...


thanks for reading my blog and posting a comment.

letting go has never been really easy.

thank again.


Share this post