My son Nicolas is leaving home, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve spent more than 19 years with this kid, teenager, man. But the time has come for him to pack up for college, and I’m dreading how much I will miss him.

He’s ready to take this next step in life. He’s always known that he would go to college far away from our home in Miami. (In my case, I lived with my parents in Mexico until I was 24, though that was a different time and place.)

©Jorge Ramos


In addition to studying, Nicolas will be one of the kickers on his university’s football team. He earned this opportunity all on his own, with outstanding determination and willpower. As a child, he would come with me to my soccer matches every Saturday morning. He’d wait impatiently for halftime so that he could jump onto the field and kick the ball around with my friends (he kicked really well). Once he reached high school, he mixed his Latino heritage and his American upbringing and swapped the round ball for an oval one.

When we talk, Nicolas and I switch languages seamlessly. I speak Spanish; he answers in English. Still, he can converse fluently with his Spanish-speaking grandparents, thanks to the efforts of his teacher Maria del Carmen Naranjo, who introduced him to the marvels of Latin American literature in her class. 

I grew up reading books and newspapers on paper, while Nico grew up reading them on a screen. He has developed a tremendous curiosity about history and has a trained taste for good food. He respects football players and chefs — the doers, not the talkers.

When Nico was growing up, I tried to join him at play as much as I could. My father hardly played with me — though, again, those were different times. I’ve learned that half the job of being a dad is simply being present. The other half is sharing experiences with your kids that they can learn from and look back at fondly. That’s why I have traveled far and wide with Nicolas and his sister, Paola.

Nicolas is a great travel companion. As a child, I would take him with me on many reporting jobs, from Brazil to Bangkok, from Rome to Johannesburg. He doesn’t mind waking up in one country, having lunch in another and going to bed in a third. My intention was to teach him to keep his eyes wide open to places and experiences abroad. I also taught him to travel light — our rule when we fly is that we only take carry-on luggage. If it doesn’t fit in the carry-on, it stays.