March 19, 2019

Help, I am suffering from Nigerian Mother Syndrome! Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Help, I am suffering from Nigerian Mother Syndrome! Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

I am a Nigerian mum through and through.

A part of me tries to deny this but I do not need to go far beneath the surface to see that I am one.

I kid about being a Nigerian mum a lot. I watch all those skits and memes and I tell myself –  “No, I am not that bad o” but truth be told I can relate.

Last Saturday I came face to face with exactly who I have become i.e an ultra-Nigerian mother. I walked down to the little shop close to my church to buy my kids some bottled water. In front of the shop was this 7 or 8 year old boy dancing perfect  shaku shaku. He had his hands stretched out and crossed. He even did that making a call sign shaking his head perfectly in tune to the rhythm of the music blaring from a radio.

I tried folks.

But my body started itching me, beads of sweat broke out on my forehead and my tongue went off.

“I hope you can read your books as well as you are dancing this shaku shaku.”

Instant relief. There, I had said it.

The boy froze and stopped dancing. Balloon was deflated. For absolutely no reason or even business of mine I had to kill all that joy.

  1. Did I give birth to him? No.
  2. Do I know his name? No.
  3. Do I pay his school fees? No.
  4. Do I even know his parents? No.
  5. Heck, I don’t even live in that neighbourhood.

So, why on earth did I stop this boy from dancing?

He could not say anything. His sisters started laughing.

“Have you started your exams?”

Somebody should tackle me to the ground and drag me back to my family. What is all this?

Biodun, let the boy live joor!!!!!! Do people read 24hours? It was even a Saturday! Everyone deserves downtime. And most importantly, you never studied in primary school. So why are you doing this.

I was given my change and I left hurriedly.

But this is not the first time I am doing something this extra.

There was a day my neighbour’s ward passed me without greeting me.

I quickly did a mental review of how my day had been till that point. I was very certain I hadn’t seen her that day. Even if I had, you have to say something when passing people you know each time na…haba.

I stood there bristling. Beads of sweat. Thinking about how disrespectful this young lady had to be to pass a whole complete Nigerian adult with so much as a hello. Mind you folks, a ‘hello’ would have been worse. Like who is your mate that you will greet ‘hello’. Even our mates don’t say ‘hello’ to us.

The girl obviously had gone to buy something outside. I did a debate on how to handle it.

You will not die if she does not greet you, Biodun.

What do you mean? Does this not feel close to dying?

Haba she is a young girl.

Why else was I expecting her to greet. If you are young, you greet older people here.

Let it slide. She may have been preoccupied.

Slide ke? She needs to be properly trained. If I keep quiet, I am not helping her.

Train? Are you feeding her? Are you paying her school fees? Will the world stop rotating if she grows up not greeting everyone?

But it is bad na…I will tell her aunty.

NO! Don’t escalate. You are a Nigerian mother. You know exactly how it will play out.

Ngozi!! Come here. So I hear you cannot greet anybody again. The whole compound is complaining about you (she won’t say it is only you that complained). You are so proud and you behave as if you lack home training. Even the plates I asked you to wash mba. You will be walking and carrying shoulder as if you want to push people inside gutter…

Ok. Ok. Ok. I won’t report her. But I must talk to her.

The girl comes passing by and I say the most typical thing Nigerian mothers say…

“You, you cannot greet again?”

The young lady was startled. She sputtered and did a dip and greeted me.

Suddenly I felt at peace. Like she could turn out Ok after all.

“Ehen, my dear, how are you?”

The audacity of bullying someone to greet you and actually flipping it into ‘pleasantries’.

Well, one thing was achieved. She greets me as loudly as she can even if we see 10 times a day. This is not a bad thing. There is nothing like too much greeting.

Omo dada. Rescued on time.

Have you noticed I have not even mentioned parenting my own children?

You can just imagine. Me chiding my 1 year old that he plays too much. Or telling my 5 year old to study for his exams and he looks at me in a bewildered manner because he doesn’t understand what studying is. But he does now….

When we are in church, my kids don’t like to stand up during praise worship and it is embarrassing as I am the praise worship leader. It burns a hole in my chest looking at them. I begin to use laser beams from my eyes to threaten them. It works. They look at me and our eyes jam. I gesticulate with my head and they jump up. There was a day I was singing and I saw my son reaching for my phone to play games IN CHURCH. People, I almost lost it. It took all I had not to throw the mic at him. In fact, I actually called his name out and his head jerked up as he zipped my bag.

I menacingly ask questions like:

“Do you want to cry?” to a child that is already crying. And when he won’t stop I say

“If you want something to cry about, I will give you something to cry about.”

And that always works.

When I am with them, they have to greet everybody with sir or madam attached. Even my baby gets prodded “Say good afternoon.” Knowing fully well he can’t talk yet.

But now that I have extended this Nigerian mum thing to other people’s children, I am getting very worried.

What is the cure to the Nigerian mother syndrome? (If you say daughter-in-law I will stone you….)

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