A very happy Father’s Day to all especially when you win in a world cup cricket game against the most interesting rivalry of your mother country for long.
Yesterday my 16-year old son took one of his friends (a girl from the same school but not his GF) for paddle boarding in the gulf close by to our neighborhood. He is usually not an outdoor type of person, and whenever he participates in an outdoor activity, he assumes that he is going to make me very proud. As a father, I would rather see him engaged in outdoor activities than his usual indoor pursuits like playing with the computer or the mobile phone.
My mother, who is visiting from India, was seeing this happening in front of her eyes. You can imagine the look of surprise on her face to see a young boy and girl, in swimming costumes, going off to the ocean by themselves without adult supervision, and disappearing.
It was a beautiful Florida sunshine day, and my daughter was at home, spending time with our friend’s 14-year old son who had come over. Aabhas (my son) left home without asking these two to join him. I felt it would be a good idea for all of them to together and have fun; so I suggested the same to Aabhas. He answered, “Dad, I have planned this with D (the girl).”
Suddenly this little child of mine sounded all grown-up, and I got the sense that he is obviously looking to spend some quality time with this girl. Anyway, Aabhas and his friend spent a few hours in the water and came back to safety harbor marina. To ally our concerns, they kept us informed about their whereabouts. I met them at the marina asked them if they wanted to eat something. Typically, the answer is yes, we are hungry. But this time they said no we are okay, and we are going back into the water. Aabhas asked me if I could pick them up in an hour from the park nearby because they might be tired after an hour of paddle boarding.
I had these two other kids and my mom with me all that time and we were at the marina spending time quality ourselves, but I was always worried about these two young adults who were in the water. I knew they are good kids, but there were the usual ‘what-if’ scenarios going on in my mind as a father.
After few minutes Aabhas called his mom telling her that they had gone far into the water and when they were trying to come back to shore, they had hurt themselves while climbing over those little rocks or barnacles near the beach. His friend had a deeper cut on her leg. They were not scared, but we were really concerned after getting that phone call. My wife went to the seashore side and brought them back home.
We called the girl’s mother who came to pick her up; she was worried that her daughter might have to go to the ER. It became a little chaotic at home, but these young kids were like nothing happened. They were like young birds who had had an adventure.
Aabhas was still trying to calm me, saying, “Dad, you wanted me to go outdoor activity, and I did. Aren’t you proud of me?” I was like, “Yes, I am, but I was also worried that you went too far in your adventure. What if something more dangerous could have happened. You had no life jackets.”
I could see little fear in his eyes at that time, but it went away after a few minutes. He was still feeling good that he did accomplish something bigger that day, and that one adventure gave him a lot of confidence.
To be honest, I was angry. But when I thought about the situation, it reminded me of something similar that occurred when I was 16-17 years of age. A friend and I had gone trekking and decided to climb a mountain called Galta near our home, and that too the steep side of it. My dad came to know about our daring excursion through someone who saw us climbing the mountain. My parents were terrified, and on our return, I received a severe scolding, along with a few slaps on the cheek. It was a popular punishment meted out to kids back home in India; I got my share too.
When I thought about this incident, it gave me a strange sense of relief, realizing that history was repeating itself. The only difference is that I realized my response needed to be different from the one I got. So, I just said to my son, “Great adventure and high-five dude!”
Teaching kids to fly is the easy part, it’s the letting go that ruffles my overprotective fatherly feathers.
Happy Father’s Day all!
Made in India, Serving Humanity, Living in Safety Harbor Florida, USA. Healthcare Entrepreneur. Author ”A Philanthropist Without Money” Driven by an inherent desire for knowledge and creative thinking, I harnessed my “Mid Life” energies to becoming a student again, challenging myself to take an executive course in ‘Global Healthcare Innovation’ from Harvard Business School and a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida. Not satisfied with personal success alone, now I’m on a mission to help other aspiring entrepreneurs through mentoring, nurturing, raising funding, and connecting people with more possibilities.