Thoughts from dad to son…

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On Temper (2)

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I have been observing you much lately.  Well, I’ve been observing your behavior more specifically.  It seems like you have really begun to learn to express your disappointment, somewhat.  When you are not given what you want, you make a slapping gesture with your hand (even without slapping anything in particular) and you also make a grunt-like sound together with it.  In spite of this, my comfort lies in the fact that whenever you are able to listen during such moments, and I tell you something like, “That’s not nice, okay?”, you answer in the positive and in a more calm disposition as though the disappointment never came.

Obviously, I have no idea whatsoever with what goes on in the mind of a toddler.  How I would love to find out your thought processes and the overwhelming things that you feel even while you discover them.  I can only guess these things through my own observations and through some of the stuff I get to read about raising children your age.  All-in-all, it is a learning experience for me as well.

I guess during moments when you exhibit such behaviors that I may relate to your potential “temper,” I am the one with an even greater learning opportunity.  It is an opportunity for me to learn to understand you better rather than to assume that you have the understanding of any other adult person.  It is an opportunity for me to learn new and better ways to communicate to you without feeling frustrated myself.  It is an opportunity for me to learn to love you in even more ways than I already assume I know how.

I look forward much to the day when we can get the chance to sit down and talk about things like this someday.  I love you, son.

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Too Fast

Two years and three months old now…  I look at pictures of you when you were a few months old and recent pictures, and I’m amazed at how fast you grow.  There’s a part of me that wishes I could go back, if only momentarily, to a time when you were smaller, just so I could once again experience holding you at that stage of your growth.  Not as though I regret anything.  Definitely not!  I don’t know how to explain it son, but as a father, I seem to want to tangibly hoard every single moment of your life so that at any given time, when I want to reminisce, I can do it not just in thought or memory, or through pictures.

But I am fully aware that time only moves forward and the moment that has passed is gone.  I need to remember to maximize my every waking hour with you so that I waste nothing.  I need to drink deep of the times we spend together so that they become part of every fiber of my being.  I have every intention to grow old by living life as best as I can.  And the most wonderful parts of this life that is loaned to me, are you and your mom.

So, don’t just grow up.  Instead, live life and growing up will take care of itself.  I love you, son!

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This was taken when you were around one-and-a-half years old.

Almost Two

We take your growth one day at a time.  You’re turning two years old next month.  It is amazing to me how much you seem to learn in the briefest of moments.  I look at you and I can see so much potential!  I pray that I may have the courage to let you find your own person, and the wisdom to guide you properly.

Son, this is just my personal opinion, but I believe that your generation lacks good men.  And when I say good men, I don’t just mean men who have goodness in them.  Everyone has goodness in them.  But what I mean is so much more than just the innate capacity to do good.  By “good men,” I refer to strength of character that not only draws the admiration of others (simply because without effort, character just shows), but the character to mold a destiny.  Big ideas!  But son, this generation and the very generation you will grow into, will definitely need it.  The world has already lost much of its moral fiber as I write.  By the time you get fired up to make your own mark in history, I can imagine (although I hope otherwise) that… Actually, I can’t imagine how the world would be at that time considering the downward direction it now can’t seem to recover from.

So, be a good man – the kind who will stand up for what is right even when everyone else won’t; the kind who will endure when everyone else has given up; the kind who will stay the course when everyone else has opted for the easy life; the kind who exemplifies sacrifice when everyone else favors convenience; the kind who will be true to his commitments when everyone has turned away from theirs; the kind who will live according to principles and not according to what’s popular; the kind who gives hope where there seems none; the kind who has faith when the world only knows distrust and cynicism; the kind who thinks of others before himself when the world only teaches “I, me and myself.”

Be a man.  But more importantly, be a good man.  Someday, I know you’ll understand what I mean.  I love you, son.

On Temper 1

Son, you can say that temper kind of runs in your blood. Years ago, I was a very temperamental person. I’d like to believe that I’ve changed and I believe I have. But you’ll have to see it for yourself for you to claim it too.

Aside from that, you’ll see temper varieties from within my and your mom’s families. And this is why, from a seemingly logical perspective, you might actually have it by virtue of lineage. Actually, you sometimes seem to exhibit it as early as now (you’re 1 1/2 years old as of this writing) and it is so easy to conclude that you’ll grow up to be a temperamental person. But I will still say, it’s too early to tell.

In my own understanding, temper is a person’s easy tendency towards being angry. It is mostly an emotional experience or situation. Some people would say, emotions are beyond our control. I do not completely agree. I’d go as far as saying, we do not have control over what emotions come to us. But I’ll also say, we have control over what we do with or how we handle our emotions.

Therefore, I would like to tell you as early on as possible, that you do not have to be controlled by your temper or your anger. You have been created to have the power to decide if you’ll let your temper get the better of you or not. You have the ability to be above your anger so that you may still do the right thing in spite of losing your temper.

I can say this with full conviction because I have experienced it first-hand. Like I said, I used to be a very temperamental person. But I have realized that when I allow my temper to take over me, I am always on the losing end of the circumstance. And whenever I lose my temper in any situation, it is often the case that I end up doing or saying something I regret later on. More often than not, what I end up regretting is not worth the anger I invested.

So, as much as you can, try to learn the virtue of patience and understand how it can become part of your character. Understand fully well what things tick you off and by understanding them, you can identify how to address them. Usually, the anger that we exhibit is merely a reflection of our frustrations and disappointments with our own weaknesses, imperfections and faults.

More to be said on this matter but let’s do that another time. Be good, son. This world needs good men.

Grief-laden Memories

I am referring to your aunt, my sister. She passed away three years ago this coming September. Time can really be relative. Three years can be a long time. In this case, it still feels like yesterday.

I still vividly recall the very moment I stepped into the apartment where she and her husband used to stay, the day she died. They got a hospital bed and situated it in the living room so that she wouldn’t need to move about so much. There she was on the bed, your grandfather and grandmother inconsolably crying, one holding her hand to her cheek, the other with his forehead almost touching hers. Your other aunt (Leah) standing by the foot of the bed crying as well. They were the best of friends. Even before I pulled open the door to enter, I could already hear them crying after parking the car and I too began to cry, the pain running deep and inexplicable through my soul. Losing a loved one…

About a month before that day, she called up your aunt Leah, then me. Basically, she told us that considering how things are going with her cancer, anything can happen. Not to say that she was giving up on being completely healed of it but being the practical person that she was, she just wanted to “set expectations” in a way. “I don’t want surprises,” was the basic substance of the phone call. I was driving the car on my way home when she called and I had to pull over after the call because I began to cry immensely. I called your mom (we were not yet married then although it was in that month we got engaged) and just sought comfort.

Son, to this day, whenever I recall that very moment we arrived at their apartment, my heart still feels as though it is being ripped into pieces. We loved your aunt very dearly, and we love her very, very dearly still.

You won’t feel this same grief for losing your aunt (you never met her personally but I’m sure she knows you very well) but I am almost certain that at some point in your life, you’ll understand such grief. As your dad, I hope with all hope that you will never ever have to experience it but I also know that that’s like asking for the impossible. Still, impossible happens. Only God knows.

Grief, though difficult to live with, is an important part of our lives and our being. It reminds us that life was never meant to be fair and that in spite of that truth, life goes on. Thus, we are also reminded that although pain is unavoidable, misery is optional.

I will do whatever I can to protect you from pain and possible grief, as is a father’s instinct I belive, but I cannot guarantee that I will be able to protect you from it completely. But rest assured, through your pain, I will be with you. I love you, son.

A “Better” Life… (?)

I heard a radio commercial by a bank that talks about a supposedly “better” life. First, there is the voice of a man talking about some amount of disbelief with the new house that he has purchased. Then there’s the voice of what seems to be an excited teenage boy talking about how having a new car would impress his crush. Finally, there’s a woman talking about the impressive growth of her business. The ad goes on to mention that their lives are changing for the better (not verbatim).

Although I totally agree that lives do change based on the examples role-played in the ad, I do not necessarily subscribe to the thought that such lives are changing for the better, whether they are changed by such tokens of material success, or if such tokens are merely outcomes. Material wealth or gain does not automatically equate to a better life.

When I heard the radio ad the first time, I didn’t pay much attention to it, although it did occur to me as an afterthought. Having a son like you made me wonder about what the boy in the commercial said, and the value that the seemingly harmless ad communicates. The boy’s crush will finally notice him because he has a new car? Has society really been reduced to this? That may be an overly sweeping statement or perhaps an utterly unfair judgment, but I won’t be surprised if it actually becomes true for most people some day soon.

Son, as early as now, even if you can barely understand much of what your adults at home tell you, let me put on record here that, LIFE IS FAR MORE THAN OUR MATERIAL EXISTENCE. That is to say, OUR LIFE IS NOT MEASURED BY OUR MATERIAL RICHES OR WEALTH. By the time you can decide for yourself, you may find these things that I’ve just typed in all-caps difficult to believe because our society today is so (seemingly) unknowingly enmeshed in materialism. And mind you, it is a condition of our society that is not easy to swim away from. It seems to eat everyone up.

As much as you can son, try to resist. Do not just take everything in as though you are obliged to do so because you are not. Whatever society tells you to be acceptable and “okay,” take it with a grain of salt and decide for yourself. Not everything that is pleasurable is good for the soul. Always remember, we do have a soul to take care of because life is not just in the physical state. And besides, if a boy can only impress his crush with a new car, how shallow is that?

Sadly and fearfully, this is the kind of society and youth culture you’ll be growing up in. May my fear drive me unceasingly to raise you up well so that you will become a man who knows the importance and value of a meaningful life – a life that isn’t priced monetarily but one that finds it worth in a sound conscience and the warmth of the soul. May your life find its true meaning in giving instead of taking and may you be content to know that you don’t need to own everything to live a good life, or a better one for that matter.

Daddy Angst 3

You are sick again.  In the wee hours of the morning, you were running a fever.  We tried to give you some milk since you weren’t able to take in much yesterday but you vomitted what you were able to drink so far.

During these circumstances, I worry a lot.  Sub-thoughts to my worrying is, do I worry too much or is this just about how much worrying any other father would go through?  I have no immediate answers.

The worrying remains.  I feel so helpless not to be able to completely protect you from getting sick.  The cliché is true – I would give anything to have your sickness and everything that goes with it transferred to me so that you’d immediately feel fine.  As a song goes, “I’d give my life for you.”  I feel it’s the least I can do.  Fathers would understand.

It’s your check-up tomorrow.  Aside from the medication that you’re currently taking as advised by your pediatrician, I desperately hope that the root cause of your illness may be addressed so that it doesn’t recur soon, or at all (if that is actually possible).  You see, just about a few weeks ago, you were also sick – cough and cold.

I have to admit, part of my wish for this thing to be resolved is because of my selfishness – so that my worrying would be lifted.  But that whole worrying also circles back to a father’s concern for his son.  This feeling of helplessness is a struggle to deal with.

I am praying for your immediate healing.  We love you dearly and to see you suffer (even just from a cough and cold) is agony.