I was speaking to a 10 year old child recently and it occurred to me that she had the same whining tone that you would excuse in let’s say a 5 year old. I compared it to who I was and what I knew at 10 years old. At 10, of course I was a child but because I was a reader, I had been exposed to so many things that most of my mates could not relate to. I was reading 500 paged books in 3 days.
But this article isn’t about how smart I am , it is about the sort of kids that we are raising. How they are so sheltered and buttered up and how we do everything for them.
My first son is 7 years old. The other day, I picked them up from school and drove to the supermarket. I only wanted ketchup so I decided for the first time ever to allow him go into the store to buy it for me. His eyes sparkled with excitement. The store is a single bungalow and I was parked smack in front of it, so letting him go in was safe so to speak. His 5 year old brother went in with him and he held a N1,000 note straightened out in between his fingers.
He came back out a few minutes later without his brother.
“Mummy, can we buy Mentos for ourselves?”
“Find out how much it is first.” I answered.
He ran back in and ran back out.
“How much is the ketchup?”
He shrugged in an uninterested manner. “Maybe Mambo knows.”
My blood went hot. The legit thing you had to buy was ketchup. You abandoned that by hustling for sweets. You let your brother stand in there waiting.
I ordered him back inside to buy the stuff, ask for change and a receipt. I saw one of the workers and I asked him to help them. They came back with N450 change, Mentos and ketchup without any receipt. So we did a back and forth till all was clear. I began to ask him questions for a little mental math and he was getting angry. So I got angry and scolded him. I spoke about responsibility and focus. He started crying so I allowed them to eat the sweets in peace.
But I was unhappy.
I know for certain that there are kids hawking at 7. Kids manning kiosks at young ages. My kids were so aje butter that buying ketchup had required a lot of back and forth, assistance from a store keeper, 40mins of my time, tears, a lecture and a peace offering.
Before I was 10, my mother would send me to grind tomatoes and buy stuff from the little market centre at least 400metres from the house. And my upbringing was still quite sheltered.
The way I was going, my kids will expect me to wash their clothes when they are in uni.
In the evening the next day, I pulled out a N200 and called my son.
“Go and buy me eggs from the Mallam.”
“Wait! What?? I am too young to do that? And who is the mallam?”
“You know the guy that sells stuff outside? That is him. I expect 5 eggs because they cost 40bucks each.”
His kid brother was surprised as well.
“Ehmm… Maybe it would be a good idea if I went with him.”
“Phew! Mambo, that is a relief. I was wondering how I was going to do it all alone.” They ambled off to find their crocs.
“Don’t run. And if you swing your hand, the eggs could hit against each other and break.”
“I can’t hold five eggs.”
“He will give you a plastic bag.”
And off they went.
The moment I heard the door, all the worries of this life hit me.
The place was literally 50m from our gate. But what if someone snatches them? What if a car hits them? This was their very first time venturing out alone. I literally even saw ritual killers crawling all over the place in my head.
“Shey I should follow them?” I asked my husband as I started looking for my kaftan.
“They will be fine.”
What if something happens? I will never forgive myself for asking them to buy eggs I did not need in the first place.
“Sweetie, please follow them. Just stand at the gate.”
He agreed swiftly and quickly followed them. It appears Mr N was also thinking all kinds of thoughts.
They were back in less than 5mins. My first son was so excited at the big responsibility I had given him and watched me remove the eggs from the bag. None were broken.
“Mummy, I did it! Are you proud of me?”
He looked at me with those innocent eyes and I melted. I was proud of him even though I had made up my mind not to send him out on an errand again till he was older.
The next meal he ate, he left his plate on the dining table. The help or I always pick up after them. I decided that was it. I commanded him to take it to the kitchen and told him no one was going to wash his plates again.
I hear in secondary schools the kids have people that do their laundry. HIAN! I am so old school on this ‘ion’ care what anyone says. A child in secondary school should be able to wash his clothes. The only workers we had in secondary school did the cooking and teaching and administration. We cleaned our classes, hostels, bathrooms/toilets and the surroundings. Why would we let people do it for our kids? Any adult should be able to care for themselves and so need to learn these basics.
I don’t want to raise entitled children.
(A child was snatched from a church in July. Thankfully, she was found. We are not living in times were our kids can walk up and down unsupervised. There is a real danger. I acknowledge that and will wait till they are older to do that. So please I am not encouraging anyone to send their babies to mallam’s shop.}