LETTERS SENT TO MY SON
It’s unbelievable that someone at the age of 2 and half- like my son- could get 16 letters compared with 2 my Mom sent me when I was at NLS Bao Loc. I sent them to him with only one purpose: to encourage him to be a good boy as well as to show how much I would care for him.
As I got a sponsor-ship of a 6-month holiday in Sydney Australia, I also got a great chance to get to know how a father could influence his young son in such a long distance. I wondered myself how influenced my schoolmates were when they got their parents’ letters. When I left home for Australia- Oct, 1992, he was just a little boy and he could not speak at all. A month passed smoothly in there with me but with him and his Mom at home as I could imagine. The farther the young son is from his Dad, the harder for his Mom to educate him. To reply my wife’s first letter, I spent a short time writing but for the second one it took me much longer time to do so. And as time went by, one day, she wrote:
“Like many others, our son doesn’t care to eat. I have to lie to him that you will come back sooner if he eats well. On the contrary, if he doesn’t eat enough, you will never return home. To my surprise, he has been eating so well and has gained some weight. What a good lie it is!”
I found that it would be reasonable to spend more time writing him personally. I kept doing it as once she wrote me that worked so efficiently. Anytime I replied my wife’s letter, I carefully wrote him a separate one stating what I wanted him to do. I often reminded him of the time I was at school far from home, of 2 letters I got from my Mom, of what she asked me and I put myself near him. As a small boy wishing his father to be back as soon as possible, he tried to eat as much as he could and he made all of us very pleased. Though my brother in Australia had made an unbelievable change, he had not made my Mom as happy as what my son did. After about a month, he could say something on the phone. Tears quickly fell on my face as fears silently rose inside me. He could speak. He could understand better and he would be different. He would be able to help change the family. He would also become the point of us of our attempts to make ourselves happier than we had ever been.
In December, my wife wrote me a letter telling something that shocked me. She informed that in the recent C level test, Dr. Hung and Miss Loan passed. I suddenly compared myself with who made it at home, how much English I got there and how much they had done at home. I emotionally thought of my son’s growth and others’. Whose would be better. Dr. Hung’s son must be proud to tell his classmates the good news and his whole school considered it his father’s gift for him even though he had never thought of. What I could get for my son may not be as much as what someone else could but certainly more meaningful. By naming him Luong Nhat Anh, I mean his first position English language study. By working hard, I wanted to get some money. By studying English, I tried to improve it and by writing him, I had to warn him a few things which would be something like studying better and living a better life.
My very first letter I wrote to him was about how important it would be for him to eat.
First of all, I wrote: “Eating is just the first step for everyone to take. Everyone should go on. Every young boy should play, go to bed and eat more each day as time goes by. Last year, you ate pasted potato, drank milk. Now you eat rice and drink water.”
Secondly, I often added: “Be obedient as you have no ideas what is wrong or right around you in this wide world. Can you realize what is true and what is false on the T.V? Take your Mom’s advice. Do what you are told to do. Don’t do anything that they warn you not to. Say ‘good night’ to you grand Ma and your Mom before going to bed. Say “thank you” when you get help or gifts. Say “Sorry” when you make mistakes. We’ll let you free till you grow up and we’ll tell you why you have to do so.”
Thirdly, I especially impressed him by telling him that his cousin - Dong, 9, was using his first computer and wanting to become a computer programmer. So I created a question for him: What do you want to be? What do you want to have for your life? Dong is enjoying playing games, reading because he hopes to create something similar. What are you enjoying doing so what do you hope to create later in your life? I am here enjoying hearing you are growing well and becoming a good boy.”
Fourthly, I had one thing to worry about and I let him know in a sentence : “When I was your age, I had no ideas what I would do to make my life better. Now as things have changed, I am working hard here to help make ends meet. I am studying early here to teach better at home for 4 of us. As you are growing up, you’d better keep in mind what to do and how to do it.”
Finally, of course, I told him anytime I wrote that I loved him and would go back to be with him. What I got was his waiting for me for hours before my arrival time at Tan Son Nhat air-port and his acceptance to sleep alone. Could any Viet Namese fathers do the same? Could any VietNamese boys do that to show his love to his Dad?
Was my writing worth it? I think it was.