Friday, June 7, 2013

A girl's dilemma



I write this soon after learning that Sophie, 13 and an incoming eighth grader, has made it safely home. She came from school for a whole-day meeting of the student council in preparation for Monday’s first day of classes. She is senator. But this is only the senator’s second time to commute on her own, via bus.

I am relieved, big time, to know she is safe.
No, Sophie does not usually hug the seats.

The school is not so near. In fact, it’s in another city, one not even adjacent to our own.  On a good day, a bus ride can take 15-20 minutes. But to get there from the school, one has to walk to Edsa, go up the foot bridge and cross to the other side of the highway. The streets are a free-for-all.

I told a friend recently that raising girls is a bit harder. On one hand you want to protect them, shield them from every harm and make sure no unsavory elements get near them.

But they are growing up, and becoming smart, and learning to find their place in the world. So with the urge to jump in every time and protect them, a mom has to balance letting them go, allowing them to find their way. This is how we empower our children. Actually, this is the essence of parenthood – enabling them to do things on their own, rendering ourselves dispensable.

Sometimes I feel like Nemo’s father at the beginning of the film when he simply refuses to let Nemo live because of his fears something bad may happen to him. 

Last week, my elder daughter Bea turned 19. She is going to be a senior in college and has recently gotten a job writing copy for events. She had been talking about climbing a mountain for a while now, but I guess this year the opportunity just presented itself. Her mountaineer friends organized a hike for her high-altitude birthday celebration.
Bea at Mt. Pico de Loro

It took a while before I said yes. I know Bea as a slightly clumsy, giggly girl whom I cannot quite picture doing physical exertions amid the forces of nature.

But she was an adult, and she had earned the right to prove me wrong. Prove me wrong she did.

My girls are tough. It even looks like they could be tougher than I am. And so I must give them the chance to show me – actually, more, themselves – that.


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