Would you spy on your child?

I read somewhere on the Internet,read story here   that the US busybody government had bugged the German Chancellor’s mobile phone for over ten years without being detected. As usual, this set me off, I marveled at how easy it was for them to have been able to do that and get away with it for that long without being detected, who did they think they were to have done it and also wondered if as a parent I would and if I should, spy on my child or better still if my concern over my children and watching over them could be regarded as spying or just carrying out my God given responsibility towards them.
Growing up in the early 70s in Nigeria, life was far less complicated than what obtains now. The use of Internet in homes was almost non existent. Communication was physical and face to face or via letter writing (what we had then was “pen pals” )and not via some sophisticated gadgets like telephone or through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tagged, Pinterest, Yahoomail, Gmail, Hotmail etc.
Never the less, some parents including mine, would still spy on their children despite the fact that there was almost “nothing” to spy on. Apart from the fact that there was no privacy for children at that time as we have it now, the tools of communication we had then was diary keeping for our own use, letter writing, local and international (remember airmail, per avion ?) and some of us had telephone or rather our parents had telephone, land line powered by almighty NITEL.
If we got a letter, usually our parents would get the first access to them and we would be called to come and read it to them and even sometimes to the whole family. This makes me remember my very first love letter that I got at the age of 11 or thereabouts, after it had been “intercepted” and digested by my parents, I was told to read it which I did, red faced from embarrassment, I had to do a lot of convincing to the effect that the letter was unsolicited and that I did not see it coming. We also later found out that it was from one of my male cousins. Apparently there had been a bet among all the male cousins that they would see who I would “fall for” first among about five of them. Anyway, I was finally vindicated.
Our telephone had an extension in my Dad’s room and the main line was in the living room. Anytime any of us children had a call, we had to pick it in the living room and we would usually reply in monosyllables like “yes”, “no”, chuckle or giggle and “bye-bye”. We were allowed to pick calls depending on Dad’s mood. If he was in a good enough mood you were lucky because you would be able to pick your call, if he was in one of those moods or you where not in his good books at that particular time ( which was very often), he would either slam the phone after putting the caller through a serious interview session or he would tell the caller never to call that line ever again and slam the phone that is, even if the caller himself had not dropped the phone in fright after hearing my Dad’s voice.Now if he was in a benevolent mood, or if you had been making some suspicious moves and he felt he had enough grounds to suspect that you were up to something untoward at that particular moment he would pretend to be in a good mood and allow you pick the call in the living room and go to his room on the pretext of getting some stuff or the other, then he would pick the extension. If this happens, what would I do? I would simply tell the caller that there was something wrong with the connection and that I was going to check if the extension was properly placed, at which he would quickly drop it and come out, this could happen up to two or three times during one telephone conversation. In Dad’s bid to perfect his surveillance act, he bought a padlock which he would use to lock the phone

so that no calls were made while he was out so as not to miss any action but he could not stop us from receiving calls while he was out. We children, also perfected the skill of “tapping” and although tedious and time consuming, we would tap all the numbers that made up the telephone number one by one till the last number and the call would scale through at last and we would talk as much as we wanted. After some time however Dad started locking the phone, padlock and all in his room before going out. And there was nothing we could do except force the door open and nobody, not even the bravest amongst us could dare that or maybe we thought a telephone call was not worth the wahala that would ensue.
Back to the subject under discussion, would you spy on your child? My thirteen and eleven year old have laptops because they are in secondary school, they use the Internet on almost a daily basis for their school assignments, the thirteen year old has an iPad and a phone as well. The phone is however used the way a ” social drinker” takes alcohol, occasionally, during mid term breaks and longer holidays to keep in touch with her friends from School or anytime we have a separate outing. The novice that I am, I do not know how I did I’d but I was able to synch her iPad to mine so that whatever she writes on her ipad, I get a copy on my own iPad. I also set up their email accounts on my own iPad, have them put in their passwords and so get a copy of each new mail they get.
I am sure you are wondering if they don’t resent this, so far no, and this is because I did not go behind their back to do it, I carried them along by informing them and and letting them know it was for their own good and I also worked at the impression that we both did it “together”. I also let them know that they can read my emails as well if they so wish (as if they would want to read my boring emails), and they have my iPad password. In continuation of my parenting duty and responsibility I passworded safari browser on my 13 year old’s iPad and downloaded a safer browser from the Apps store. The 11 year old’s laptop was also made safer by downloading google “safe search kids” browser for her use instead of the regular browsers. From time to time I also go through their browsing history, if your child’s browsing history is erased, it is a danger signal and enough reason for further actions from you.
You might want to share, do you “spy”? if so how have you been able to “spy” without “spying” or without getting caught?
In the next post, we will examine ways we can “spy” on our children without “spying”

image 1 source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24690055

image 2 source:http://www.etsy.com/listing/110625066/vintage-1960s-gray-rotary-phone-with


Who says Stella Oduah does not need a bullet proof car?

Who says Stella Oduah does not need a bulletproof car? “That means to say you no dey for igbobi hospitalNigeria be that, that means to say you no dey for Africa be that”…. reminds me of one of the songs of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A visit to The National Hospital Igbobi made me realize that yes, Stella Oduah and every top government personnel in Nigeria needs a bullet-proof car. Did you ask me why? Well you just need to make an attempt at accessing any social service in Nigeria, then you will understand what I mean. Those in position of authority in this country know(but whether they want to admit it or not is a different thing) that people cannot continue to be subjected to so much suffering and not want to revolt,it is the day of the revolt that they do not know, but all the same, they want to be prepared and hence take all necessary precautions.
If my own experience is anything to go by, this is what you would be expected to part with for an appointment at a government hospital in Naija.
1.Time and loads of it, for an appointment of 7am, expect to be seen by the doctor at about 12pm, because red tape and ceremonies(such as waiting for your “tally number”) take about 2 to 3 hours, so be prepared to spend the whole day, do not make any other plans for your appointment day.
2. Entourage/escort; you need a minimum of a two member gang entourage if you must see the doctor, one for assistance, like push your wheelchair, for example(the wheelchairs by the way were donated by different religious organisations, at least so says the inscription on them) and the other to help secure your space in the unending queue.

3. Privacy, privacy ke? what is privacy? there are on the average two to three tables in a consulting room, so expect to undress if need be, and unburden your heart to the doctor with all the other patients and members of their entourage listening and watching, and your only hope and consolation would be that their problem is more serious than yours.
4. Money, you need plenty of this in order to be able to wade through the river of independent contractors set up by default through government inadequacy; a list of fees you expect to pay goes like so:
a. Registration fee N1,500
b. consultation fees N 500
c. Compulsory blood test; starts from N1700
d. X-ray, minimum of N14,000. depending on the doctors assessment of your status. if the doctors assessment is that you cannot afford digital, you will be referred for analogue instead of digital and the former is cheaper.
e. Medicines/drugs depending on your ailment(you will be advised by the nurses not to get your medicines from other sources apart from the shops on the hospital premises because according to them, they cannot guarantee the the efficacy and quality despite the NAFDAC registration on them.
f. Use of toilet; N30 per visit, you might think this is cheap, but by the time you calculate how many times a restless and bored child for example would visit the toilet within 5 hours or more,(the time you are likely to spend for an appointment), you would see that it piles up.Parents’ way out of the situation was lead their children onto the lawn to ease themselves right there in the public.
6.Emergency services? you are on your own if you should need that, a boy who was brought in with a fracture which had resulted in a swollen leg was made to sit down and groan in pain for hours in the queue, the reason? he had to wait for his turn, in fact he would have been given an appointment for a later date because the admission counter had closed when he was brought in, he was told that he was just lucky to have been told to wait and see the doctor.
7.Unforeseen circumstances; now you have to be prepared for that, we could not keep our appointment until a third attempt because(1) doctors were on strike, and (2)doctors were having a meeting, and the list goes on.
8. A combination of patience, meekness and long-suffering. Expect your child to be smacked, threatened,shouted down etc during your visit, from the lab assistant to the doctor,a doctor told my child(an eight year old) that he would skip her and move on to the next patient if she would “not cooperate” and I knew he meant it.
However things are not really as gloomy as they seem, if you come armed with your sense of humour and a spirit of thankfulness, you might come back in a good mood and a victorious one for that matter if you eventually succeed in seeing the doctor despite the prevailing situation. There was the usual market place setting like we have in every public place in Naija, the “officiating” midwife called on a patient to lead us in prayer, there was evangelism, sharing of tracts, there was hawking of snacks and refreshments by “Dr bele” (by the way, bele means stomach), a guy that had so perfected the act that you could not help but laugh, there was the Yoruba style of greeting “e e karo o, e ku ojumo o, e ku ipade o”, I even thought I heard “e ku hospital o”.
You see where parenting led me? I even had to help some “new friends” listen out for their names and keep an eye on their seats.My first visit to Igbobi but I can bet will definitely not be the last, we have been referred for further x-ray and given another appointment in three weeks time.
On my drive home, the Ijebu woman in me woke up and I made a mental calculation of how much was being  made daily at the hospital on consultation fees alone. There were about 5 out-patient departments,and on the average 100 patients per department which makes 500 patients who come in for consultation on a daily basis and each pays N500 that is N500 in 500 places=N250,000 in 24 days per month makes N6,000,000. A very conservative estimate.
Now you see why Stella Oduah and ors need bullet-proof cars?http://www.punchng.com/news/n255m-car-scandal-reps-panel-indicts-oduah-ncaa/ When I get hold of Stella Oduah, I will not lynch her or cause her any greavious bodily harm as some people have promised, I will just tweak her ears, I am too gentle to do more than that.


Facial expression as a type of parenting skill

There is a general agreement among sociologists and psychologists that the face, voice, body posture and hand gestures, forecast to outside observers what people will do next. By extension children or rather “well brought up” children are expected to be able to read every of their parents’ facial expression, voice tone, body posture and hand gesture and use such as a guide as to what is expected of them in any given situation.  When we were growing up, most of the communication between us and our parents were non- verbal and woe betide you if you were not able to decipher / decode any of such messages because you would pay dearly for it. In fact our parents did little or no talking to us, except when we are being reprimanded for one wrong doing or the other, all the talking they did was to adults like themselves.

The human face serves many functions, it makes ones behaviour more predictable and understandable to others and thus improves communication, it can be used to supplement verbal communication, it can also communicate information on its own without the use of verbal communication, that is replace verbal communication. Psychologists have classified six facial expressions which correspond to ; happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust and anger. All these are however not the expressions we have in mind when talking about facial expression’s use as a parenting skill. 

People of South West Nigeria, especially the Yoruba people have all types of facial expressions or/ and hand gestures and body postures to fit every single situation or incidence. Lets now proceed to examine some of them and their interpretation

1. Rolling of eyes/ eyeing; used to express disgust, annoyance,and  exasperation.

2. Shrugging of shoulders; means “I don’t care” or “I don’t know or I am not interested”

3. Clapping of hands three times and simultaneously placing each hand over the other starting with the right followed by the left. ” Wonders shall never end ” or ” see me, see trouble” or is simply used to express amazement.

4. Loud clearing of throat; this is used to shut somebody up without making it so obvious and can also be used to express disbelief at someone.

5. Pointing with your nose and raising your upper lip to touch your nose at the same time, known in Yoruba language as “yinmu”, is used to express disbelief, disgust or simply to say; ” I give up”, reminds me of the way majority of  Nigerians feel about government projects and policies, “yinmu” is a very apt expression.

“Yinmu”…. T2 indeed an “omo oju”


6. Keeping very quite all of a sudden and refusing to respond in any way whatsoever and keeping a blank face; used to signify end of a conversation or that a particular topic is a no-go area.

7. Wagging of the right fore finger in a person’s face;  Indicates warning and the wagging will be as severe as the warning is meant to be.

8. Shaking of the head from left to right or vice versa, note that this is different from nodding(nodding is an up and down movement) signifies the hopelessness of a case. It could also mean an emphatic no.

9. Laughing loudly all of a sudden and also declaring that you are indeed laughing as a response to a particular situation, question, news or information( remember Obasanjo ” I they laugh o”, the reply that he gave when he was told that Atiku would be succeeding him as President of Nigeria) this “mouth gesture” is used to express derision or the ridiculousness of a situation or of some particular news.

Obasanjo; “I dey laugh o”


10. Raising up and shaking two clenched fists at the same time. This expresses praise, applause and kudos.

11. Twisting and interlocking the two hands together and intertwining the ten fingers. This signifies appeal or request , petition, imploring.

12. Putting of the right fore finger in the left cheek and proceeding to make a loud noise three times. Signifies swearing that what was said is indeed true. 

13. Biting the tip of your fore finger or the angle of a curved fore finger; Expresses regret.

14. Glaring hard at someone; Shows displeasure and annoyance

15. Using the tip of  a curved fore finger to tap the side of your forehead. Means the person(s) being addressed need their heads examined.

16. Tapping of the middle finger and thumb across the head three times. This means that something will happen only over your dead body. This hand gesture has however acquired one more meaning especially at this “Pentecostal times” to mean “back to sender”

18. Opening your hand wide with the palm showing and all fingers separated at somebody is Yoruba’s way of saying “f**k you” or “to h*ll with you”. Note that it is not parents that use this particular hand gesture on their children, but it is expected that a child should recognise an insult if he sees one and promptly report to elders.

19.  Add your own.

The Yoruba classify children into two when it comes to the topic under discussion; “omo oju”, a child that understands facial expression, and “omo oro”,a child that understands only verbal expression, the former is generally preferred to the latter and is also considered to be better brought up and better behaved.

A child that can  decode all these expressions accurately and promptly follow by taking appropriate action is on her way to a blissful childhood. 

How many of these gestures are you familiar with?