Tag Archives: kids

Growing up too fast

growing up too fast

The other day when I was coming from church I saw this notice on our court’s gate; that all ladies from our court were supposed to meet later in the evening. I was tired already because of waking up early and the fact that lately I barely have enough time for anything other than school work (that’s the reason I seem so scarce on this vast blogosphere). For a few seconds I wondered why they would precisely ask for ladies to meet, given that normally all meetings are attended by both men and women.

In my rush to get home however, I forgot all about the notice.Later, at dusk, I realized I needed airtime so I grabbed a hoodie and left for the shop. The instant I stepped out I saw a group of women gathered from a far and that’s when it hit me; the meeting!

Confused, I went up the few steps and back to the house to regroup. I figured it was already too late to attend the meeting and since I needed the airtime urgently, I couldn’t just pass by them without stopping by, even if only to say hi. My big sister advised me to go find out what they were discussing, so I grabbed my phone, which I hadn’t cared to carry previously and left.

While I was going down the steps, I saw them start to walk away and immediately I knew the meeting had ended. Luckily, I bumped into mom, who had just come from the meeting. Boy was I relieved! I didn’t know she was there.

I said hi to the two women I know, and went ahead to help mom with the shopping bags. When I was going back to the house I heard the women discussing one of the issues they had discussed at the meeting and since they’re older than me, I left them to it as mom caught up with them. From what I gathered, it was about a Pastor’s daughter and from the tone of their voice, she had done something appalling.

I do not know any pastor in our court (I barely know my neighbours) nor do I know his daughter, so the discussion felt somewhat ‘alien’ to me. About fifteen minutes later mom walked into the house and curiously, we told her to share with us what had been discussed at the meeting.

“It was about how young kids are behaving. Nowadays, because they can easily access the web they download very X-rated stuff and now their parents are starting to find out. Our next door neighbour’s son for instance. He has a girlfriend. The other day his dad found out and when asked about it he just told his dad they hug.”

My jaw hit the ground when I heard that. The kid is around four years old, so I wondered what he could possibly be doing with a girlfriend.

“Mom, what is sex?” The young boy had asked innocently. The woman was shocked, to say the least.

What, in my opinion, parents fail to realize is that thanks to technology, nowadays babies – the operative word being ‘babies’ – know more than we would imagine on this taboo subject. Now what I keep repeating is, we can choose to bury our heads in the sand and pretend these kids are as naïve as they come on all matters sex, or we can grab that stubborn bull by the horn and tell them the age–appropriate issues pertaining to the matter.

Failure to do that will see children gathering all the wrong information from all the wrong sources and unfortunately, as it is turning out lately, they will grow into irresponsible young adults; my neighbours, who I mentioned in a previous post, for instance. Word had it that the two siblings had been engaging in sex, with each other.

Who’s to blame for such moral decay in the society? A society, where even four year olds – babies who have barely left the cradle – are only too eager to know about sex. It’s a fact; there’s very little we could do to erase all the information found online about sex, or even barring children from getting access to it; but I believe we can determine what sticks in their mind as ‘the truth’; and this can only be achieved by parents having healthy conversations with their children from as early as possible.

The unavoidable truth is kids are growing up too fast, and evading this topic will only have them get their infantile minds corrupted by other kids/adults. I don’t know much about kids really, but I’m of the opinion parents can start off by trying to gauge how much/little their kids know about it. From there they can set the record straight, if need be…and the earlier, the better.

Fatherless

fatherless

One of my nieces, now aged four, is asking about her dad’s whereabouts. She was asking her grandmother, my aunt, “Do I have a dad?”

Her grandmother replied, “Yes, he came to see you when you were slightly younger. Don’t you remember?”

Obstinately she asked, “That far back? I don’t remember him.” I understand her. She’s only four; how much could she possibly remember from her past?

A few months after she was born I met her dad. He’d accompanied me and her mom to the clinic for her monthly post-natal check-up. At the time he seemed like just a teenager, and judging by the daughter’s queries, I’m assuming he’s joined the league of absentee dads.

My niece is currently in kindergarten. She’s starting to ask questions that all kids in her situation are bound to ask at some point. Sometimes single parents hope their kids will skip that phase because it poses many challenges in terms of what answers should be given and it’s difficult to ascertain if the answers given are age-appropriate. With my niece for instance, how does one begin to tell her that her parents conceived her when they were themselves very young so it would have been almost impossible for them to end up together then?

When I saw the guy who was said to have fathered her, I couldn’t believe it. He was so young; one could tell he wasn’t fully grown yet. I didn’t ask, but I presumed he was still in his teens. I commended him at the time for standing by his baby mama because many guys his age would just have ‘hit and run’. I don’t know when he started drifting away but nowadays it turns out he’s a complete no-show.

Now the girl is at that stage where she’s starting to realize that children should have a father and a mother and unfortunately her dad’s missing in the picture. Plus there’s that awful possibility that sometimes kids make fun of each other and she might not be an exception to the ridicule. Those little people could be nasty at times… but we love them still. One could hope that their kids wouldn’t have to ask those questions, but how does someone hope for such when in school one of the primary things children learn is about the family.

When I was still a small child, in my first year of primary school, I remember being asked by my teacher to draw and name the members of my family. I had an amazing time drawing and colouring them. With that in mind, I find myself lost when I try to think what a child in my niece’s situation would do. She would probably draw herself, her mom, her grandmother and her nanny; because those are the people she’s grown around. And I’m assuming there would atleast be one of her classmates who, in her innocence, would ask, “Where is your dad?”

I empathize with my niece; she’s only four. At what age will her mother or grandmother feel confident she’s old enough to learn the truth? And until that time comes, what is she supposed to tell other kids her age? Those kids who don’t understand that sometimes it’s impossible to have both parents around. How will she handle the vicious remarks other kids utter sometimes? I don’t know really if it’s possible to tell children not to worry or give much thought to such brutality, all I know is that for them, before it gets better, it will get worse.

 

Kids have never failed to imitate.

Kids have never failed to imitate

Kids might not be so good at following instructions, but they have- for ages- been good at copy pasting what they hear or see. The other day, some kids were discussing one of their friends’ houses that they had recently visited, and one asked, “Have you been to their house? It’s so empty; you could play football in it”. Now any adult will tell you that not even the darkest kid will independently conceive such a statement in their minds; and if they did, it would mostly be based on something they had previously overheard.

One might try to argue that nowadays kids are so ‘digital’; they seem to know everything, thanks to technology.  That to some extent would be correct, but of importance here is the fact that when a baby is growing up, one of the major factors that shape them into who/what they grow into would be the environment they’re brought up in. The age of the kids on focus here would also be of massive importance; based on my sheer knowledge, none of them was above six.

With that in mind, how would one expect a kid to grow up if s/he often hears his parents/grownups around  him criticizing other people, what they have and what not…? To some, this concept might seem alien, but not to me. I’ve been un/lucky enough (depending on how you choose to look at it) to be caught in an extremely uncomfortable moment where I, or my family rather, was the topic of such a distasteful conversation…

A few years ago, my family was to meet up with my extended (paternal) kin at one of my uncles’ place since we all lived in different parts of the city so we could travel together to the countryside to visit my paternal grandma. At the time there was some sought of tension between my mom and her in-laws; the beef runs way back, before I was even conceived but I don’t wanna delve into that at the moment. It’s for that precise reason that my mom had opted to sit out of any family get-togethers, to avoid any altercations that could inflict more wounds on the already existing ones.

My dad, the gentleman he is (when he wants to be…) couldn’t leave mom alone; he also chose to remain behind, to keep her company when my sisters and I were gone. Ergo, we made arrangements to have our uncle (the host) pick us up because we were not so familiar with the place; we had only been there once before.

My uncle, whom we’re not so close with, came to pick us up. He was alone. He came into our house, which he’d never been into before, to help us carry our luggage. In case you’re wondering, we have a very strained relationship with our paternal relatives. I’ve mentioned that in some previous posts. In my own understanding, I have over time attributed it to the fact that dad married mom against his family’s wishes; apparently dad’s family is affluent, whereas mom’s family isn’t so endowed.

In all honesty I thought that kind of prejudice only happens in telenovelas: rich hunk falls head over heels in love with a beautiful girl from a very humble background; his family objects vehemently, branding the innocent girl a social climber, and subsequently they all conspire to make the girl’s life a living nightmare…Smh!

A few minutes later we were on the road, headed to my uncle’s. On the way we stopped at a mall, where his wife had been shopping, to pick her up. Under different circumstances, we would have jumped at the idea of meeting our aunt especially after such a long time, but at that moment it only meant we would have a pretty hellish ride.

As we had envisaged, the ride was quite unpleasant; and it had nothing to do with the car’s upholstery or bumpy roads. It was all my aunt’s doing. See, in a nutshell, she’s very outspoken and if you ask me, she doesn’t really give a rat’s ass whose toes she steps on. I remember her asking my uncle in hushed murmurs, how our house looked. That didn’t catch me off guard because I knew she was capable of that and more but I was disappointed because I thought she would have the decency to ask that discretely, preferably in our absence. Then again, maybe she thought we didn’t hear.

“It’s big,” my uncle replied reluctantly. I bet he too felt uneasy about his wife’s indiscretion.

Hungry for information, she went ahead to ask- in her own words- what the house was ‘filled’ with since it was really big. The blatant derision in her voice irked me. At that time, I didn’t know how to react; I was torn between bursting into a fit of laughter at such barbarism, and cutting in the conversation just to express my outrage; but I knew better. I don’t recall my uncle answering her; I guessed he didn’t want to partake in such unmitigated savagery. I respected him for that.

Now in reference to James A. Baldwin’s quote, I try to imagine what would have happened had my sisters and I been at an impressionable age? If we weren’t the ones on the receiving end. We would have possibly repeated my aunt’s scathing words later, when mingling with other kids, just like my neighbours’ kids had.

In my opinion, if you want to know how people refer to others behind closed doors, just listen to their kids or see how they act while in the midst of other kids… They’ve never failed to imitate. My take here may be deemed uninformed, but if my cousins (my aunt’s children) are anything to go by, then I know I’m right…