I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t grunt ‘But…,” nor ask why. I just said yes, and nodded even when I meant no. Recently, my parents said no about me working in Metro Manila. I was devastated. I wouldn’t survive it, they predicted.
In Kindergarten, my teacher told this story after nap time when other kids were still sleepy. She told us that birds make good parents – they build nests for their young, feed them everyday, and protect them from unkind predators. But there’s one thing bird grown-ups don’t do for their young – fly. They don’t teach their chicks how to flap wings or glide in the air. In fact, some bird parents even risk pushing their chicks from the nest so that they will learn how to fly. It’s nature’s way of saying that learning does not always have to be vicarious. All birds learn to fly the hard way.
Now, I’m twenty, a fresh graduate, unemployed. I still live with my parents in our rural home. It came as a shock to me when my parents told me they want me to stay in town. It sure is a good idea. I’d have free meals, a privilege I didn’t have when I used to live in the city as a student in the university. I’d have free rides, board, and lodging. Surely, staying in town is the more practical decision.
I soon found myself thinking of how boring it would be – the usual waking up to the sound of the roosters, or the same neighborhood I greet when I walk out the gate. Soon, I’d be sleeping all day long during weekends and whining about why the town didn’t even have a movie house. My mom would still be washing my clothes and ironing them, for fear I’d burn all my shirts in the ironing board. In the long run, I’d die from feeling bad about not being a responsible adult.
Here’s what I want. I want to burn eggs in the pan, or wilt a few chrysanthemums in the backyard. I want to destroy a shirt in the ironing board. I want to burn one, two, or three, before I truly learn to slide the iron well. I wouldn’t learn to fend for myself if I stay at home. I want to make things right by knowing the wrong. I want to commit mistakes and learn from them, not from somebody older laying down the moral of the story. I want the quiz first, before I learn the concepts.
Being independent is not a joke. In the event of parting with my parents, I’d have to let go of my comfort zone – that lovely home that nurtured me and gave me the best of the world. Nobody’s waking up baby in the morning for ready-made breakfast; he’d have to make one himself. Nobody’s looking out for baby while at play; he’d have to manage his own affairs now. Nobody’s chewing food for baby before he swallows it. You see, baby has to become a man.
It may sound radical, but I think it’s time my parents pushed me out of the nest.
Mark Darryl Caniban is a graduate of Psychology from Ateneo de Davao University.