We were about to cross the street and, instinctively, I grabbed his hand.
I looked left, right and left again, (just like our parents thought us), as I stood poised to cross the road where mad drivers were honking angrily at Keke Napep riders to get off their lane.
The okada riders too were popping out of nowhere to startle pedestrians off the road.
That was when I realised that he is 19 now.
I heard his amused laughter and I sensed he recognized that my reaching out and grabbing his hand came from old and instinctive habit.
His hands felt big in mine as his fingers curled up to hold mine in a firm grip as we skirted across the busy street.
He still held my hand and led me through the narrow path on the other side of the road and didn’t let go until we came to an open place where we could walk side by side.
He is the child, and I am the mother, but life is changing and re-arranging the order of things.
I used to be the one that led him; I used to be the one whose hold was firm and who wouldn’t let go especially when we walked on the street.
I would be pulling him behind me because his little legs couldn’t match up with my longer strides.
No longer are my hands the bigger hands; no longer are my strides the longer ones that used to make him hurry after me.
Instead, I am the one asking him to slow down for me to catch up.
He left home one year ago and has been living by himself all these while and I am staring middle-age in the face.
Sometimes, I do worry.
Oh, not about me. About him, my nieces, nephews, kids of friends, family…
Are they caving in to peer pressure to smoke that joint?
What if it isn’t even a drag on the joint?
What if it’s meth, or ecstasy or some drug that kids get hooked on at first drag?
And how well are our boys handling sex-hungry girls who won’t leave their room even at odd hours?
Like Portiphar’s wife, will these girls get tired and lead them into trouble?
Ha, God forbid!
Will they make the right choices?
Will they know when to turn to the right?
And will they recognize the paths we have mapped out for them to tread?
Life is a journey and the paths we choose will take us some place – good or bad.
There are road signs; there are blinkers, scotch lights that beckon; and there are even amber alerts that line the road of life, warning us on the paths we have chosen.
Will these kids see the signs?
But we will never know until our children are faced with life issues that will determine whether they will turn to the right or to the left.
I always tell my children – Don’t get into trouble but if you do, call me. Let me be the first to know!
Crossing that road reminded me of another lesson in life.
As parents and care givers, guardians and adults in the lives of children in our charge, we can’t let go even after crossing the roads, because long after we let go of their hands, we would still be holding them firmly in the grip of our hearts.
We anticipate their calls; we look out for their mails, messages, chats, anything that connects us back to them.
That is why we follow them on social media and irritate them with our corny comments.
We get angry when they don’t call back or reply messages and we begin to imagine all kinds of scenarios.
Like someone said, our concern isn’t that they will fall. Our concern is that they don’t stay down.