Of robust replies and open letters

Parenting? It is not easy especially at these modern times. We have to strike a balance between contradiction, which is the fundamental truth of parenting, we want our children to trust and yet to question. If they trust too much, we become worried and wonder how they will cope in this world of deceit and if they question too much nko? Another wahala, we will become exasperated and wonder the kind of child they are. On my parenting journey, I  find myself in situations where robust replies are required, apologies to Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo however, unlike Fatoyinbo, I cannot leave my constituents hanging, I cannot afford that luxury so I would usually do my best to supply the answer that I think fit, in line with the situation at hand. Lets listen to one of such conversations;

My eight year old, (we will call her T3): Mum?

Me: Yes? ( absentmindedly)

T3: I thought you said Mr Razak just had a baby?

Pregnant man?

Me: Yes, and so la la what? (becoming curious, thinking Ki ló tun de o? Can’t the electrician have a baby any more)

T3: ( getting bolder) I did not see him when he was pregnant.

See me see trouble, everybody present burst into laughter including the electrician, Mr Razak. Insanity is indeed hereditary, I mean, you get it from  your children. I had to quickly come up with a robust reply ;

Me: It was Mr Razak’s wife that had the baby not Mr Razak

T3: Then how come the baby now belongs to Mr Razak?

Me: ( Trying to keep a straight face) When a man and a woman are married, it is the woman that will have the baby for the man, and the baby will be for the two of them

T3: (Still confused) Why mummy?

Me: Because that is how God made it.

T3: So Daddy has never been pregnant?

Me: Nope.(heaving a sign of relief thinking the coast was finally clear )

T3: You are the one that has been giving babies to Daddy?

Me: Yes.

T3: So if it is a woman that gives babies, can she give the babies to whoever she wants, like if she does n’t want to give their daddy anymore, can she give them to somebody else?

Me: Nope, she can’t

Eight: But why?

I know how her mind works, so I know she must have started having ideas about the possibility of changing Daddies if  situation demand such..

So parents, especially fathers, to rule out the possibility of receiving an “open letter” from your children like the one Obasanjo just received from Iyabo, it is up to you. If you know how to shoot without missing which has resulted in that child, you should have all or some of what  it takes to be a good parent, if not a great one.

Iyabo’s letter to her father has shown us that a father occupying the most envied position in the country, ie the position of number one citizen of the country is not enough, a child riding effortlessly to the National Assembly  as a member because of who their father is, is not enough either. Yorubas it is that say, the fowl has perched on the rope, the fowl is not comfortable but neither is the rope, Iyabo

Iyabo and her Father.

might have become a cursed child, but has it made Obasanjo happier? So when we are done with abusing and raining curses on Iyabo and using big grammar to describe her action, and letting us know how she has gone against God’ s spelt out instruction( the only one with a promise) ;” honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long on the surface of the earth” Exodus 20:12, we should pick out lessons from the saga and apply them to our own situation and circumstances, no matter how good our relationship with our children might be there will always be room for improvement. The brouhaha that has resulted from Iyabo’s letter  made me  realize that there are more parents that deserve such letters but are lucky because their children have refrained from giving them because  of the honour your father and your mother instruction.The time to start making amends however is now. Nobody is indispensable but we can make ourselves valuable.


Consumerism……”Panti” and “Ripoff”

More and more, kids are being bombarded with messages to consume, millions of money is spent to get children to nag their parents to buy more stuff. Children’s programs are filled with adverts to the extent that more time is spent on adverts than on the program being shown. No aspect of family life is left unaffected, there are gadgets to help in virtually all aspects of family life and activities, and these gadgets also claim to save time in the process. The gap between what we need and what we want is ever widening, we don’t seem to ever be able to catch up.

As with other things in Nigeria, consumerism is in mega proportions, and events such as children birthday parties have been abused and twisted out of forms. A well known school has had to limit children’s birthday celebrations to sharing just the birthday cake and reading a book together and in some schools outright ban has been placed on children’s birthday celebrations in the school premises, after some parents  of primary school students developed the habit of organising birthday lunch to be served by a well known and very expensive Chinese restaurant right in the school premises just to mark their child’s birthday. What in modern times  is termed “goody bag” or “party pack”

goody bag/party pack

has become a  “weapon of mass destruction” that is used to destroy our children’s innocence and happy childhood. Birthday anniversaries that should be looked forward to, have become a source of anguish,  fear and depression, for parents and children alike, the competition has  become very fierce and ridiculous at the same time. It is only in Nigeria that a one year old’s birthday anniversary will have up to 500 guests in attendance.

Under aged children are dressed in adult clothing,wear adult hairstyles and are armed with the latest and most sophisticated communication gadgets like mobile phones, tablets etc.There are  gadgets that are supposed to help children study, help them memorise, apps to keep them company for example,’talking Tom’ and ‘talking Angela’, ( by the way talking Angela almost replaced me in my daughters life within a period of just a week when she was on midterm break, now you understand why I am very jealous and wary of it). There are game consoles that not only lead to addiction but also erode the child’s interpersonal skills like having normal conversation with people in real life.
You are a parent and find yourself trying to bring up a good child under these circumstances, no doubt you will be met with serious resistance by your child and society. What can you do?
1. Set a  good example. Start with yourself. Be sure that you can afford and sustain your life style. If you love to keep up with your neighbours, always chasing after the latest craze  the latest fashion or fads, whether you  can afford it or not, then you need to have your head self examined.
2. Do a self evaluation. Go home, take a second look and evaluate what you have, in a gentle manner carry your child along. Do you really need replacements for those things you already have?
3. Before you buy anything, make a window shopping trip, think thrice , go home think again, then have a second trip, if you are convinced you still need it, then and only then should you go ahead.
4. Consider cheaper alternatives, if you really must buy and it will serve the same purpose, please go for that.
5. This point is based on the premise that you are friends with your child, over time, jokingly but lovingly help her to deflate her “cravings”  for stuffs. The  term that we use in my family is “PANTI” panti means rubbish or something that is not only useless but will end up taking up much needed space. My children have been trained to admire the coolest of gadgets and walk away without any longing because they are sure it is “Panti” . Before, they used to say “mummy will say it is panti, but now they themselves can identify panti without any outside help, and are so sure and convinced within themselves to the extent that they will say it is “Panti”, without prefixing it with “mummy will say”.
6. You can also have a “heart to heart” talk with your child,  any time a particular item wants to come in between you and her. Ask her if she honestly thinks your family can not afford whatever is the bone of contention at that particular time, the answer will most likely be in the affirmative (i e we can afford it) follow the first question with the second, that why does she think we will not be buying, it will now dawn on her that it is a “rip off”, (this is another term of ours), this means although, it might have some value, it is unnecessarily too expensive.  A good example is the foreign trips schools organise in Nigeria ; these trips cost an arm and a leg. The cost that is usually charged for a child is equivalent to the cost for a family of four on the same type of trip. My children understand that such trips are ripoffs so they do not  hunger for them. 
7. Finally think along the long term line, will this particular purchase make any noticeable difference in your life in the long term?
Now to my question; How are you coping with consumerism?  

Nelson Mandela by Sincelor

If only more African leaders were like him”

Juju Films

Nelson Mandela by Sincelor  by Jujufilms
Nelson Mandela by Sincelor , a photo by Jujufilms on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Artist Sincelor paints this mural as a tribute to Nelson Mandela at the Kamer House Mandela Day event in Fidjrosse, Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

Shot by Maasta.


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