When I was little, I got reprimanded every time I got a wound.
Yep, a wound.
“Wag kang tatakbo. Madadapa ka!” was my mother’s frequent warning.
(Don’t run. You’ll trip!)
I will not forget the day I scraped BOTH my knees because I ran to meet my step dad despite the no running rule.
I cried hard not only because of the Agua Oxygenada (Hydrogen Peroxide), but also because I was being scolded.
“Di ba sabi ko, wag tatakbo? Hindi ka nakikinig. O, ayan, tingnan mo. Pangit na. Ang laki ng peklat niyan,” my mom frustratedly said.
(Didn’t I tell you not to run? You weren’t listening. Look what happened. It’s ugly. That will surely scar.)
I guess she wanted me to be a model. Or at least stand a chance in the pageant world.
Not all, but many moms have this dream.
We want our kids to be flawless; to look pretty, to look well taken cared off. We want them to have the edge, to be fairer, to be taller (hello Cherifer) to have the advantage, to be admired, to be the next magazine cover.
Nothing wrong with that of course. But since kids don’t really understand why flawlessness matters or should matter, I started wondering if we are actually sending our children the right message.
In my case, I became overly cautious. I was bad in Habulan or Agawan Base. Lol. I was scared to run fast and I feared coming home with a wound.
And as I grew older, I carried on with this.
I would put sebo de macho on my scars and pray that they disappear!
And then when Mia was born, I couldn’t stand seeing scratches on her face (I always covered her hands with mittens even though the doctors advised not to), a single insect bite on her leg was enough to make me feel gloomy all day, and you would hear me shout, “No running!” majority of the time.
Do you find yourself saying the same words?
My awakening moment only came when Mia casually asked WHY.
“Why, Mommy?” She repeated when I didn’t respond.
Yeah, WHY? I asked myself as well. Why am I stopping her if there are no clear dangers around?
“I’m scared you’ll trip and hurt yourself,” I finally said.
But she playfully answered, “No, I won’t!”
And she ran as fast as she could, leaving me on edge.
She was right. She didn’t trip at all.
She was gleaming as she went against the wind.
She looked so happy and free.
I should be cheering instead…
And so after that, I started teaching myself to be brave.
We have to be brave.
There’s always the danger of falling down, breaking a bone, spraining an ankle, or bumping their heads.
But we can’t keep them.
Our kids need to get wounds and fall so they’ll learn it’s all part of the game. So they’ll learn to be strong and resilient. So they’ll know how to run better and how to navigate their way around bigger kids.
They need to tumble so they’ll learn to just brush the dust off, get up, and run again.
I always thought that the ones who climbed trees had a better childhood. The ones who played on the streets and who went home dirty are the ones who had more fun.
So I’m learning not to stop her. Not to set limits on how fast or how far she can go. Because I am not building the next superstar, I am building a child.
The child who is free to play. The child who is free to run.
All I can do is pray (hard!) to keep her from disfiguring accidents and irreparable injuries. That she will only get bruises and scrapes just enough to teach her about pain. Just enough to build strength of character.
I know it’s difficult to watch from afar and it’s very tempting to shelter them at all times.
But if you think about it, we can’t shield them entirely from harm anyway.
There were many instances when Mia fell and hurt herself even though I was just right there.
There have been instances when I was in the same room but she still fell from the crib, hit her head on a window, and bumped her cheeks onthe edge of a side table. I wasn’t quick enough to catch or save her.
No matter how careful we are, accidents do happen.
I’m scared as you are but sometimes we just have to cheer and let go.
So go ahead and run. Run, Mia, run.