October 22, 2018

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Dear divorced couples, we are damaging our children – Peju Akande

Dear divorced couples, we are damaging our children – Peju Akande

What’s trending these days is the case of a two years old child who is said to have been defiled by a teacher in one of the prestigious private schools in Lagos. The case is in court and we are all waiting for the verdict.

The take away here is, this kid has been tainted by vicious adult influence;  and there are many tainted kids out there. They may not have been sexually defiled by trusted care givers or relatives, they may not have been physically exploited like the street hawkers; they may just be victims of their parent’s actions.

Last week, I witnessed a show of shame by two sets of warring families on the visiting day of a school here in Lagos.

The first set of family started the war, when the father, obviously separated from the mother of a boy of about 13 years, came early that Sunday afternoon to visit his son. He must have spent about an hour or thereabout with the child when his estranged wife and mother of the boy, came to visit the same child. She had packed a cooler of food and stuffed another bag full of provisions.

The boy became restless upon noticing his mother, who had been waiting several minutes for her turn with him. She had selected a spot under a tree not too far from father and son when it seemed father was reluctant to allow her be with her son.  She soon became impatient.

She called out to her estranged husband to hurry up as the visiting time would soon be over and she wanted her time with the boy.

This got father angry and he began to curse the woman and her son. He accused the boy of being an ungrateful child, one he would abandon should the boy continue to behave like a baby seeking its mother’s breasts.

Mother exploded!

In a flash, the parents had closed the gap that separated them and began clawing at each other’s throats.

The school yard was in disarray as other parents ran to separate them. At this point, their son was in a shambles and was wailing like a wounded dog. He begged his parents to stop the fight, to stop the disgrace. He knew his friends would never stop talking about the incident, he knew they would recount over and over again the number of times his father’s fists connected with his mother’s jaws; he knew he would never be free of the sniggers that would follow him at the sight of his mother’s exposed breasts where his father’s fingers had torn her blouse. He knew his father’s curses would be the new lingo other kids will begin to use for game and he would be their constant prey. He knew he would never forget the commotion his parents caused, not as long as he lived, it would forever be in his mind.

And so he cried.

Soon after, the school’s security and authorities separated the fight and bundled them and their shattered son to the police station close to the school.

Everyone’s heart went to the tortured boy.

Incidentally, that day also witnessed another fight between another couple who again are obviously separated.

Here, mother was the first to visit her kids; a boy and a girl. She was cooped up with the excited kids at the corner of a hostel block and she was about to dish the food she brought for her kids, who like other kids in the school had skipped the school’s lunch knowing mummy and daddy would visit and bring tastier meals.

But no, daddy had just arrived, in tow with grandma, daddy’s mum. They too had come with a cooler of food for the kids and they wanted the kids to come over, leaving mum’s food uneaten.

That’s how the wahala started. The confused kids didn’t know what to do, go to dad and stay or be with mum, who arrived earlier. However, daddy lost his cool. He commanded the kids over to show respect to their grandma and eat the food she’d painstakingly prepared for them.

Mother saw her efforts about to go to waste and so rose from the side to demand the kids be given an opportunity to at least taste her food.

Daddy would have none of that, and before we could blink and say, ‘are you two going to fight like the previous couple?”

Daddy had marched with purposeful strides and emptied mummy’s cooler of rice and chicken on the ground; Mummy was not to be outdone, she rained all kinds of abuse on him telling him he had come to poison her children.

Then mummy marched over to where grandma was and emptied the food grandma had brought on the ground.

Haba Fada!

The poor kids broke down in tears seeing the food they had been salivating over thrown on the ground for dogs.

Just as swiftly as the first couple were bundled off, these two were asked to leave the school’s premises.

And that’s how all the excitement ended for everyone. We all went home, chastised by what we saw and sad seeing the kids tortured because their parents can’t  see eye to eye.

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