The happiest day in my life was marrying my wife 4 years ago. The second happiest day, without a doubt, was the day that my son was born.
For the past two years, I have been dad to a crazy, curious and happy little boy. He loves planets, the solar system, dinosaurs, playing with clay, cheering for the Spurs, cheering against the Bulls (because he finds my pained face hilarious), and doing absolutely nothing with mom and dad.
I’ve seen him grow from a little peanut into an almost-3 foot bundle of energy. My wife and I have been incredibly blessed. The terrible twos that everyone talks about, hasn’t really happened thus far. Sure, he’s been acting out from time to time and testing his freedom, but otherwise he’s been the best two year old a dad can ask for.
Just a few minutes ago, we dropped off my wife, who is maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding, in the Tagaytay hotel where the ceremony and reception will be held. We decided to rent a condo via Airbnb, so that we wouldn’t have to brave the traffic going South, and so that she could perform her MOH duties.
On the way back to the condo where we were staying was a little playground. My son loves swings and slides, so he rushed over to the playground set, anticipating the chance to go on the slide and swing.
I watched him climb up the little treehouse-like set, his little legs fueling him higher and higher. When he got there, a little boy was already on the playground set. He kept eyeing my son, who made his way up excitedly to play.
Slowly but surely, I began to see what was on his mind.
Everywhere my son went, he ran towards. His intention was clear: he wanted to do everything my son did, and he wanted to do it first. My little guy went for the steering wheel, that kid pushed him aside so he could do it. My two year old sat down on the slide, and the kid pushed him aside so he could slide first.
I watched this in horror, and my fists clenched. My jaw tightened. I obviously wasn’t going to do anything to the bully, but I had some choice words I wanted to aim at his parents.
If you’re wondering what the parents were doing, all they could do was muster up a meek “no anak, that’s bad.” They didn’t even sternly reprimand him. It was almost like they were used to this kind of behavior that it didn’t surprise them anymore.
But it surprised my son. After each instance, he looked at him, probably wondering what he did to deserve that kind of treatment. But not once did he push back. Not once did he shout or throw a punch. Instead, he just stood there.
Slowly his lower lip began to quiver, a picture of confusion, frustration and sadness. Immediately I lifted him, carried him out of there.
Once we were a few meters away, he burst into tears. I had to do everything I could to keep from doing the same.
When we got back into the condo we rented, I held him tightly until he calmed down. Then we said a prayer. We prayed for the little boy, that he would learn not to bully others. We thanked the Lord that Mateo did not fight, bite or punch. That at two years he old, he chose to respond with peace.
After a few minutes of silence, I told him how proud I was to be his dad. That even though the world throws bad things his way, he still chooses not to retaliate with anger and violence. I told him that even though bad things happen, there is always a better way.
I hope that he will remember this even as he grows up. But as his father, I know it’s my duty to remind him. The world around us is surrounded by bullies, whether in our home, school, society, or even in government. But I am learning that there are circumstances that are out of our control. But the things that we can actually control, we need to make it count.
I know this has nothing to do with basketball, with the PBA, or anything you usually see with my name attached to it. But the title of our blog is From The Stands. And in this situation, I literally had to watch this transpire from the stands.
May this be a reminder to all of us, in the eyes of a two year old, the world can be a much better place if we respond with love instead of hate. Peace, instead of violence.
I’ll end this piece here. My son wants to play basketball.