Sunday, May 8, 2011

Vito and the concepts of courage and innocence

Yesterday, the missus and I decided to bring our boys to this Subic Freeport hotel with a heated swimming pool.

We arrived there a few minutes before 5:00 p.m., as the sun was just about to sink behind Redondo Peninsula. Immediately, Vito and Manu waded in the kiddie pool, joining a dozen or so kids. I perched myself on a marble turtle beside the pool, as the missus had her camera ready.

Manu got preoccupied with submersing himself under the water, and “keeping score” by always asking me how many seconds he had been staying at the bottom. The water slide caught Vito’s interest on the other. Now, between the two, we always thought that Manu was the more physically daring, i.e., he’s into football, dancing and enjoys biking and roller-skating. Vito is more interested with painting and reading, and appears cool with sports. Manu likes to wrestle with me while Vito is the proverbial big brother ready to pounce on me whenever his younger brother cries for help. Otherwise, he’s not interested.

So I was surprised when, without any prodding, Vito joined the queue of a few kids taking their turn to use the slide. I just hollered at him to be careful. Without even throwing a glance at me, Vito took his turn and slid. Again and again. On the other hand, Manu tried it once but did not like it.

On one of his turns, as Vito rose following his fall to the water from the slide, his head bumped its edge. He appeared hurt and I asked him if he was ok. He shrugged it off and went on his merry ways for 2 hours, until lights of changing hues appeared from the pool’s bottom.

Now, I’m sharing this because while our boys were enjoying the pool and the slide, I couldn’t help but notice another dad talking to his son, who was on the verge of crying. The son could be as old as Vito, and as the dad was speaking rather loud, I could hear what they were talking about: he was egging his son to slide down the pool, saying that it was one way for him to learn how to be brave.

The dad was getting mad at the boy who continued to refuse. He did not stop even when the boy was already crying. Perhaps because of the incessant nagging, the boy finally relented, with the dad waiting for him at the end of the slide. And so he finally made it.

It did not stop there though as the dad wanted him to do it again and again, pointing at Vito and saying, “Look at the kid, he keeps on doing it.” So there went another battle of wits and another round of crying. I think the boy only slid twice or thrice until we left the hotel.

I’m not trying to be judgmental here just as I realize that parents, particularly the fathers, have different styles and manners of raising their kids, especially their sons. I’m only thinking that, perhaps concerned with the future and the concept of self-worth of their sons, we may be missing the point of being here and now, and the simple joys of being innocent kids unburdened by adult expectations.

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