teaching Fina “letting go”

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A few months ago, Chong Go Sunim presented me with the idea (challenge) of teaching Fina “letting go,” an important theme throughout Seon Master Daehaeng’s teachings.

I think my mouth said something like, “Yeah, good idea,” but my mind was going, “Yeah, right! I’m not even good at letting go!” But in the end, that’s half the point. The best way to teach a baby to let go is to do it yourself and let the baby pick up on that.

After trying several times, when Fina would grab something, to try to emit a sense of, “I don’t want that…” I wasn’t sure how far I was getting. Then one day Fina spotted a big, stuffed Pororo (her favorite Korean character) doll in the toy section and squeezed it tight her arms, swinging back and forth, excitedly shouting, “Pololo! Pololo! Pololo!” (She learned Pororo’s name about two months before she learned to say “Papa”, even if she couldn’t quite get the r’s).

At first, I thought, “Well, we haven’t bought her too many toys, she’ll really enjoy this one”, then I saw the $70 price tag and almost choked. I had a feeling that mentally mimicking “let it go” wasn’t going to cut this one, and was in no mood for a baby-breakdown, then I thought of something different.

Fina was getting used to saying “Hi” when we say people we knew, but she was even better at saying “Bye!” so I tried it. I encouraged her to give the doll a kiss on the cheek, then waved to it and said, “Byyye~”

Just like that, Fina waved with one little hand, said bye to Pororo and carefully put him back on the pile of other Pororos.

Woo hoo! I’d never bothered keeping score with Fina, it would’ve been too humiliating! but score 1 for Papa anyway!

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