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A friend once told me, "The best thing about being with other people's children is that when you're done having fun with them, you can give them back."
I had laughed very hard at that. This was because that had been said at a time Ikem had stayed up late at night, refusing to sleep and preferring to watch Barney, instead. Of course, super mummy had to stay up with him, while grumbling about the fact that I needed to get some much-deserved rest.
While that had been said as a joke, after I had thought about it, I realized it was something to take very seriously.

Growing up, in Nigeria, the extended family system worked just fine. There were grandparents, aunties, uncles and neighbours even who watched out for other people's children. Those that had them were lucky. This was because, even when the parents were not there, a child would still be under the watchful eye of a responsible adult. Children were said to belong to the entire community and not just to the parents.
However, even then, however a child turned out, good or bad, was thought to be as a result of his immediate family's efforts. It wasn't strange to hear that someone came from a good family..
That's all in a distant past, though. Now, everyone minds their own business. Sadly, aunties, uncles and grandparents are, in most cases, not in the picture except as distant relatives. Living in a changed society in which it is hard to trust anyone makes it difficult for a neighbour to look out for a child not his own. Parents, now have the sole responsibility of making sure their children turn out alright.

As I watch my children play now, I realize that it is a huge responsibility, I have, to be a teacher to them. I am determined that, no matter what it costs me,  many years from now, no one would look at them and shake their heads in horror or pity at what they have become. 
I understand, perfectly, that a good teacher is one who would practice what she preaches. So, I decided to write this down as a reminder to myself and to them (when they are old enough to read) just how seriously I take this parenting business.

I truly don't see the point in using swear words. I speak two languages, very fluently and I've discovered that there are plenty words to describe exactly how I feel in each situation, without resorting to foul language. It's a decision I made a long time ago and one I'm determined to stick to.
Just before Nwando turned two, she started school. She loved going, after she got over the fact that mummy wasn't going to be there. The first time she used foul language, I was shocked and kind of heartbroken because I could see that the world was already determined to have a piece of her.
She had looked at me very intently when she did that. She had heard that from a classmate, didn't understand the meaning (I bet, the child she heard it from didn't too) but, knew it was something bad. She looked at me when she said that, like she wanted to be sure she could say it. I knew she was testing waters. I hadn't driven out of her school so, I turned to where she sat at the back and gently admonished her. When we got home, I found out from her that she had heard that from a classmate and the next day, I spoke to her teacher about it. It happened a second time. The third time she said something bad, she used a word a lot worse than the previous times.

I requested and got audience with the head mistress. I explained to her that I didn't blame the child Nwando had heard that from. At three, that boy had no understanding of what he had called Nwando. He was a child and was not responsible for himself. Sadly, he could have picked that word from his own parents or from the television or from anywhere and anybody he had unsupervised access to, really.
At the end of that meeting, it was clear what my expectations were. I didn't want my child picking up certain patterns of speech from school. The head mistress promised to speak to the parents of the child and also to ask the teachers to make a concerted effort in ensuring that the children didn't use bad language.

Some weeks ago, I heard Nwando ask Ikem, "What the h*ll did you do that for?" I was about asking her where she had learnt that from, when I realized it was from me!
I had said that to her in a fit of anger some days before then. I can't even remember what she had done at the time. But, she, had definitely, heard that from me. I was ashamed to remember that and instead of scolding her, I told her I had been wrong to say that and that she should never speak in that manner again.
I realized, then, that these words are out there, floating about, just begging to be used. I certainly know a lot of them, whether I've ever used them or not. I knew that it was only a matter of time, before they started creeping into my vocabulary, if I let them.
If I, the keeper of the gate, do not protect my children from this evil, who would? A consistent and excellent foundation at home would help most children confidently say 'no' to any kind of evil outside the home.

This morning, while getting Nwando to eat her breakfast, I threatened her with the information that if she didn't eat quickly, she would miss school and miss her field trip. That got her eating like a chicky mama :) I was smiling to myself at that victory when I realized that I had been lying to her!
No way would I have let her go to school late.
No way would I have let her miss the field trip.
All it would have cost would have been the inconvenience of fixing her a bowl of cereal, instead. That's fast food in Nwando's books.
I have always emphasized, to her, the need not to tell lies, no matter what. It's very easy to get caught up in living a lie that reality becomes blurred. It's also easy to be manipulated to tell a lie, by other people and for whatever reasons, if you are not determined to always speak the truth at all times.
A lie would always be discovered to be one and when that happens, you lose some measure of credibility... No matter why you had told that lie.
So, the next time Nwando's eating her breakfast slowly, I guess I'm stuck with telling her to hurry up so she's not late for school. And, when that does not work, be patient with her AND control the irritation I'm bound to feel from spiraling into anger or better still, bring out her cereal bowl.
Yeah, smart mummy, the third option is the best bet.

When, seventeen-month old, Ikemsinachi is re-arranging heavy furniture or pushing the highchair with Nwando in it, I see a little bit of the man he would be. As his name implies, his strength is definitely from God. I would teach him never to abuse that strength. I would teach him that his strength should never instill fear in others. Rather, his character should make them respect and love him. A show of strength would never work as a corrective measure for someone who would be strong.
If I spank him all the time he's naughty or inflict bodily pain of any sort on him, I would only be teaching him ways to do the same to others. I would turn him into a bully and a time may come when he considers himself untouchable.
I would, instead, speak to him, no matter how many times I have to till he understands right and wrong. That way, when he can no longer be physically intimidated into submission, words and acts of kindness would still reach him.
I would teach him never to hurt anyone with his strength. God gave it to him for a purpose and he will change the world positively with it.

I would teach my daughter that an ability to think and speak quickly is not an excuse to be rude. She will learn that not only sticks and stones inflict pain. Words hurt deeper than those ever can. Nwando would learn not to trust everyone with her story just because she can tell it beautifully.
I always tell her never to change. I will teach her that the good in her far outweighs anything the world has to offer.

More importantly, I would teach them to love. With that, they can't go wrong. I will teach them that even though not everyone appreciates their shine, they should never grow dim. I will teach them to be in tune with their emotions, without having to be sappy about it. I would bequeath to them, the gift of family that my mother and her mother before her gave me.

If, I am successful in teaching my children all of these and more (and I know that I would be by the grace of the Almighty), I would leave this world, old and gray, happy with knowledge that I have a raised a generation of men and women who came from a good family.
I would know that I did not fail as a mother or as a teacher.


  1. Ngoo2kii8:48 pm

    Nne e! Eye opener and reminder of the task at hand...God will surely help us be gud teachers to our children!! Way to go Ola!!!

  2. Beautiful write up. A̶̲̥̅ g☺☺d reminder ☺f our duties as parents and †ђξ malleable and trusting lives God has given us τ̅☺ raise.

  3. Ola good job, keep up the good work. The beauty of it all is that its in black and white as reminder. This is what God wants from us as parents and teachers. Responsible and God fearing adult to care for vulnable children. Teach a child the way to go when his young and he will not depart from it as adult. Ola you were taught correctly by your own parents, you will pass down to your children and them to their own children. And a merry go round we have here. So help us God. Amen. Thank you sis.

  4. Thanks, Ng, Onyi and Jbabe.
    May God help us all become great teachers :)

  5. salamat saibu11:48 pm

    thanks for sharing this with us because i really learnt from it

  6. Great piece Ola! We all definitely need the Grace of God to get by. Keep up the good work.

  7. sugar4:16 pm

    Hurray!!!! I cn comment nw

  8. Sala and Chiney, thank you :)
    Sugar, Yay!!! I see you!!!!

  9. Am proud of you, you are greatly occupying your space and blessing others too

  10. Thanks, Roseline :)

  11. Anonymous11:58 am

    Good write up and tanx for the reminder,d chase for daily bread is gradually taking its toll on families,bit with God being our helper ans strength,we
    ll get it ryt.Well done gal...keep dem rolling.

  12. Anon 11:58; AMEN! We just have to get it right so that when we do eat that daily bread, it would be with relish ;)
    Thank you.

  13. Anonymous7:02 am

    My husband sent me the link to your blog last night and I haven't been able to do anything else but try to catch with all the insightful posts. As a wife and mother this is the very blog men!!
    Well done. But I have to disagree with you just a little, I don't think the right use of spanking as a corrective tool of last resort will teach a child to become a bully. I don't knoww about you but I and almost all d people of my age I know were spanked, now I may not spank my children d way my mom spanked me but even the bible says spare the rod and spoil d child

  14. Thanks so much on your lovely compliments. I appreciate them.
    On the spanking issue, I said that when you spank a child ALL the time, you pass on the message that power should ALWAYS be expressed physically.
    I spank both my children on their bottoms or a smack on the offender's hand. However, spanking should never be the first line of correction. That's only a lazy parent's way of getting children in line. When you can no longer hit the child, what happens then?

  15. Anonymous7:31 am

    So we are on the same page then (wink)
    I'm off to continue my catch up
    while I still have some me time. Have a blessed day dear

    My name is Jackie

  16. Jackie; Yeah, we're most definitely on the same page, dear ;);)
    Enjoy your catch up and have a wonderful-beyond-words day :)

  17. Great tips. Nwando and Ikem are lucky to have you as their mom. Keep raising them well.

  18. Samuel; Thanks a lot!
    Your comment came at the right time... I needed to read this again and get reminded that I am the keeper of the gate ;)

  19. Nice! Can I share this on fb and other places?

    1. Thanks, Maureen. Yeah, you most definitely can. There are share buttons underneath the article, just before the comments.


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