“Mommy, I really, really want this,” Jamaine said. Her eyes looked earnest, almost pleading. I felt that she meant it.
We were at the department store’s shoe section picking a pair to wear with her purple dress for the Memorial.
I spotted white ballet flats with a ribbon strap that looked perfect to me. Jamaine saw (actually it was her dad who found it and showed it to her) a pair of white sandals with three ribbons on top.
I insisted on the ballet flats. They were made of soft material and they looked comfortable to wear and to walk in. “These look really nice. They would go perfectly with your dress,” I said.
The sandals, on the other hand, had low wedge soles and looked uncomfortable to wear. At least to me. “But these look really nice too, Mom,” Jamaine said.
Confident that I could eventually win her over to my side, I still ordered a pair of the ballet flats in her size. She tried the sandals and the flats one after the other.
Then I put one flat on her left foot and one sandal on her right foot. I hoped she would compare them and realize that I was right. The white ballet flats were the right choice. They were what I would choose if I were her.
“Mom, I really, really like this one,” Jamaine said, pointing to the sandals. She said she didn’t want her toes to be covered.
I sat on the padded bench with two pairs of shoes before me, feeling partly annoyed, partly defeated.
An early memory flashed before my eyes. Rewind twenty-something years ago.
Mama, Papa and I were in a watch store somewhere in Manila. They were buying me my first ever timepiece.
I fell in love with a watch that had rubber pink straps. “It’s my favorite color,” I said trying to justify my choice.
Mama chose a watch with black straps. A practical choice that goes well with anything. “This won’t get dirty easily,” she said. It was what she would choose if she were me.
We discussed options inside the watch store: Mama was trying to convince me that the black watch was the best choice and I was trying to convince her that the pink watch was what I really, really wanted.
Finally, Papa intervened and told me I can choose whatever watch I want. I was the one who was going to wear it after all.
I went home happily wearing my pink watch. I knew I made the right choice.
I sighed. I gave up. And I let go.
I decided Jamaine could have the sandals if she wanted to. She was the one who was going to wear them after all.
“So this is how it feels,” I thought to myself. That moment will come when you just have to learn to let go and let your child make her own decisions. Yes, even if she’s only five years old.
I still took comfort in the fact that Kalia was happy with the shoes I chose for her. I know it won’t be long when she too would insist on making her own choices.
On the day of the Memorial, it only took half an hour before Jamaine started fidgeting in her white sandals.
“My small toe is squished,” she said.
She felt so uncomfortable, she took off her sandals and put her bare feet up on the chair for the rest of the ceremony.
“Well, next time, let’s choose a more comfortable pair,” I said reassuringly.
Wonder what happened to my pink watch?
True enough, my watch turned from pink to dirty pink in just a matter of days. I realized that the black watch was indeed the better choice. I learned that, in certain matters, it’s wise to listen to your mother.
While I don’t expect Jamaine to make the same realization now, I want to let her feel that I am allowing her to make her decisions no matter how small. Of course, I am also here to teach her how to make the right ones.
I respect her choices. And whether they turn out to be right or wrong, I would always be here to support her. Always.