Takeaways from the AJHS Grade 9 Father-Son Bonding Weekend
31 Mar 2023 | Andre Yap
Author’s Note: This is one dad's musing. I neither pretend or presume to speak for others, nor do I write this as any kind of comprehensive retelling, not even of the best parts of the experience. This is just one dad's musing, of what stood out to me.
Although if you read to the end, you’ll see it actually mutates into a… non-musing.
Where do you seek the most growth in your father-son relationship?
That's how Anthony Pangilinan kicked off our Friday, March 24 session, by crowdsourcing this little big question to the Ateneo fathers and sons in “Zoomlandia.” The online poll instantly flashed real time drama as results poured on to our screens, from zero to more than 400 responses in under 120 seconds. Even our award-winning host was impressed.
The drama was only for second place though. The undisputed top gun of our father-son wishlist was (no drumrolls needed): we want more quality time with each other. Almost half of us said so.
And so, as I ponder our father-and-son weekend, I'm in awe of the poetry of what actually happened: if it's quality time we wanted, quality time is indeed what we got.
The result of which is that my definition of "quality time" has evolved some. Let me count the ways...
Quality Time doesn't have to be long, but it is best when sustained. Subtle difference, but big impact.
For example, on Friday, Cyril and I shared only a little over 1.5 hours together, hanging out on the couch, enjoying Pangilinan Time (he was quite the showman). Quality time could have ended there, but instead we woke to a Saturday morning spent in various corners of Ateneo High (it will always be AHS to me), huddled in the covered courts, crawling on all fours in the football fields, video-synching interviews in classrooms and corridors, telling love stories in the caf, and finally heading back to the covered courts, hugging and touchy-feeling in the guise of Brazilian self-defense. Though it was a flurry of activities and meaningful conversations, the point I wish to emphasize is that Cyril and I shared space and activities over a sustained time.
But wait, there's more. The day after, Sunday, I sat down over breakfast with Cyril. And as we reviewed the post-event envelope, the one with all the homework, we promised to fill in our blanks for each other, as follows...
I wish we could __________ together.
I appreciate you most of all for __________.
My wish for you is __________.
The most amazing thing I learned about you is_____.
I promise you that ______.
I filled up my blanks on the hour-ride to the golf course; Cyril did his before his allowed video game time. More Quality Time, working separately yet together.
Thus, Quality Time still did not end even as the weekend expired. It extended into our Monday evening routine. As the family dispersed a little past eight after dinner, prayers and hanging-out, Cyril and I went one-on-one and made good on our promise to share our filled-in blanks. It was a heartfelt exchange, not in the OA sense, but in the deep meaningful “insighting” that showed how we had grown over the weekend. By Monday evening, we were more like two close friends than father-son. Thank you, Quality Time.
So that's my aha. We sustained Quality Time in fits and spurts all through Friday to Monday. Physically, we were on and off together, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, we had this shared thread that kept us connected. We dove into the same experiences, wrestled with the same questions, and pondered the same insights. To be candid, we also smart-assed about the same nonsense as well. For better and for worse, we shared Quality Time.
All of which makes me realize that Quality Time doesn't just happen because you want it, because it topped a 400-person poll, or because self-help books and gurus said this or that. Quality Time happens when we are intentional about making it happen, when we program it into our days, and when we stay committed through twists and turns as the journey unfolds.
Cyril summed it best, echoing a wisdom I have often reiterated to him - insight I had gained from business that he now saw played out over a weekend of Quality Time. "Dad, as good as the weekend was, F&S doesn't really work as just a once-a-year rah-rah…" One-off inspirations don’t change the world, regular practice that builds habits do. It's exactly like sports: there's no one-time or annual fix; practice makes perfect, exercise builds muscle and strength, commitment that becomes habit that becomes culture – these are what make Michael Jordans and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts. It’s 99% perspiration, as Einstein said. Greatness requires constancy and don’t we all want to be great fathers and sons?
And so I will end these musings with another lesson that I want Cyril to take to heart - and practice! When you have an aha moment, make sure it doesn’t just stay in your head or heart. Inspiration is cheap; action and habits change the world. Therefore, in light of all the above musings about Quality Time, all this shall now become officially a non-musing. A movement is born. As the Jesuits say, contemplatives in action!
I will do this to honor my son's insights not just in words but more so in deeds. And also as a way to supplement the annual Father & Son experiences that have been shared with us. I have resolved to start the Father & Son QT (pronounced “cutie”) Club. The Quality Time Club. Don’t ask me what exactly the QT Club will do; I don’t know yet, but we can figure it out at our next inaugural meeting. The QT Club is open to all fathers and sons, let's figure it out together.
Giant thanks to Fr. Bert, our PUSH team, the CPRs, and the F&S facilitators from Camp Explore/Conscious Alchemy. Here’s to Magis, AMDG and QT!
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