There is something about saying "¡Anda" that reminds me of my parents. As a child, there was a certain freedom to hearing that word. It often meant I was free to roam, free to be with my friends. It also was an encouragement. If I asked my mother if I should do something or attend an event, she would say, "¡Anda!" and I knew I shouldn't hesitate or hold back. I remember talking about colleges with my parents and being concerned about our budgetary limitations. My parents said we could apply where ever we wanted and then we'd figure it out. "¡Anda!' was the meaning I heard behind their words
Two years out of college, when I mentioned to my mother that I might quit my job and move to Bolivia, my parents' birthplace, in eight weeks because the timing was right, she said, "¡Anda!" No hesitation, no doubt, no comments about finding a job there or how I would manage. She knew I would figure it out and I did.
My mom and dad were very strict in some ways. Our table manners were endlessly corrected, as was our Spanish grammar. We knew to stand up when adults walked into a room and that we had to clean our plates without complaint. Yet, there was something easy and comforting about the ways they let us go. I knew my mom and dad loved us, but they also wanted us to be independent and do things on our own. "¡Anda!" infused me with a curiosity to try things out and do something different. Don't stay home! Don't sit on the couch! Just go!
I realize, especially as I write this, how much I am like my parents. I too am strict with the kids about manners and trying all kinds of food. I too want them to be independent. I see my job as a parent to prepare them for their future. Monkey certainly doesn't have me around all day at school to help him make decisions, and they kids won't have me by their side in college and afterwards. They need to go off and make their own mistakes and find their own successes, so why not start now?
When Monkey sees his buddies, I'm sometimes bummed he won't be holding my hand as we walk home, but I'm happy he can interact with the boys and balance following their lead with his own preferences and safety while I watch from a short distance. Monkey and Munchkin's needs and burdens will shift with time, but for now, as I take that heavy backpack from his hands, I can at least release him from those weights for a little while. ¡Anda!