October 23, 2018

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If you Spare the rod, you spoil the Child -Viola Okolie

If you Spare the rod, you spoil the Child -Viola Okolie

How do you “train” a one year old?

How do you even train any child regardless of age, especially when training is viewed from the Nigerian perspective of “half kill the child, and they’ll know better than to go down that route again”.

This is one question that has been nagging me  since the recent fictitious issue of the young girl who slapped a year old baby for being too “hyperactive” in her space and pulling off her wig (revealing the alopecia beneath); and smacking her phone out of her hands thereby causing the screen to crack.

A lot of young adults on social media who had in times past, taken umbrage at domestic violence when the recipient of the violent act was a female; saw nothing wrong in this girl slapping a one year old suckling baby, and found many ways to justify the slap. Coincidentally at the same time, short videos were going around on social media of a nanny who was abusing children in her care. Strangling them, throwing them down on a marble floor, bitch slapping them, etc. The videos were horrific to watch but interestingly, those who saw nothing wrong with an adult slapping a baby because of an iPhone screen; were displaying outrage.

Ironic.

 

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Once while we were still teenagers, I recall a fight that broke out between two highly rambunctious adults on our street.

One of those useless things (in retrospect), that seem extremely unbearable when it happens and when eye dey extremely “durty”, had happened and as usual, the person who was on the receiving end of the chain of events could not bear such an affront to his personality, and challenged the affronter to a fist fight.

As is usual in such situations, people began to gather as the voices began to rise, and also began to take sides. In those days, we didn’t have cameras and social media, but we had our version of click-and-share-in-lieu-of-deescalating-a-potentially-tragic-situation measures – word of mouth.

Rather than separate the brewing fight, people were running to go and call those who were not aware that a fight was about to happen, to come and join them in watching action feem. Those who had no where to run to and no one to call, were busy adding petrol to the dirty fire. Amplifying insulting comments, throwing taunting jabs at each of the potential pugilists in the middle of the ring, pointing out to them that any refusal to actually fight as promised, was tantamount to cowardice – their real fathers there!

Long story short, as the crowd continued to gather and tempers continued to rise and people continued to escalate the tension; one of the men threw a blow and the other one took it on his temple, went down like a felled tree… and that was it.

He wasn’t unconscious, no. He was dead.

Cold.

At THAT moment, the mood changed and nobody either wanted to fight, or to watch the fight again.

In the twinkle of an eye, the arena was cleared and right there in the middle, lay a dead man who five minutes ago was bragging about he could not bear any real or perceived insults to his person; and his murderer who five minutes earlier, had casually flung out words he was wishing he could wind back the hands of the clock and recall – what an exercise in futility.

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We have seen it happen several times, someone slaps someone without realizing that the exact moment his hand landed on his opponent’s cheek; was the moment that person’s tally number was picked by the grim reaper.

Imagine an adult slapping a child because of a cracked phone screen, it makes you wonder if in this day and age, such a slapper is ready for the challenges of raising a child or even providing care to a child under any guise whatsoever.

Because one of the unspoken laws of mobile phone usage, is that the pobability of the screen being cracked by an inquisitive toddler, is in the range of 99.9%. The extra one percent of care, is at the discretion of the owner of the phone who puts it away if they sense that it may not be the right time to be fiddling around with it. Truth be told and maybe I say this as one who has been around too many toddlers in their hyperactive years, and also as one who has broken the screen of her expensive phones too many times to count – your phone screen getting knocked out of your hand by a toddler in a crowded public transport, should be one of your least fears.

And then to the champion child trainers, you wish you knew what those children you have “trained” so well get up to behind you, trust me on that.

I can tell you for free that when a child is conditioned to expect a trashing or beating for exhibiting certain behaviors, they do not totally stop that behavior – no they don’t. What they learn how to do, is to avoid detection in a bid to circumvent the consequence of that action – the flogging.

So, they begin to get tougher and you begin to breed a more clever criminal than what you thought you had flogged out of him. The child who took meat once out of the soup pot and got trounced to within nearly an inch of his life did not stop taking your meat – no.

He probably learnt how to get a knife and slice off a little bit out of each meat in the pot in order to avoid detection when you count the meat.

If you don’t believe me, just tap your neighbor and ask him because I am sure every single one of us has a story of adult-proof childhood escapades to share.

Now imagine that rather than flogging the child while ranting about how he stole the meat you had reserved for so and so purposes etc; you sit him/her down and hold a conversation on what the meat was intended for, why his act of taking it without consideration for others is wrong and what the consequences of taking that meat would be not just for him, but for every other person who would now be inconvenienced by that act.

Which do you think would be more beneficial to the child’s total development as a whole?

But no, all that talk is not for Nigerians who were all born with a koboko attached to their arms by default.

After all: If Spare the rod you spoil the shayid!

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