October 20, 2018

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When kids become hurricanes – Peju Akande

When kids become hurricanes – Peju Akande

Nothing fascinates parents more than seeing a mini version of themselves running around; talking, in fact merely breathing is a wonder in itself to many of us who’ve been blessed with these little people.

I see this fascination, almost adoration, on the faces of parents every time their mini versions display certain mannerisms, quirks, that mirror them. That’s why they can wrap us around their little fingers and we wouldn’t even know it.

However, there are some mini versions that leave some parents perplexed; you find yourself wondering if this mini version is yours. They are like hurricanes when they throw a tantrum and I witnessed one such display from a child who wasn’t allowed to have his way at the mall. I’m not sure what started the argument between mum and son because I was busy looking for several varieties of tea.

But I suddenly looked up to see the cute looking 2 or perhaps 3 year old, morphing into trouble.

The little troublemaker kept saying: ‘yet’ aka yes, while mummy was gently but firmly saying, ‘no’. Then the devil took possession because that’s the only way I can describe what happened next as I watched him tear down the aisle, with tears streaming down his ruddy cheeks, screaming, ‘Yet! Yet! Yet!’ and knocking off items from the shelves!

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I panicked and hugged a shelf to stop the little tyke from knocking me down. Many shoppers paused to find out why he was on such a rampage.

I won’t tell you the number of women who felt it was their god given duty to admonish the mother for her son’s bad behavior. I didn’t wait to hear the mother’s explanation nor her response either; I was just glad hurricane ‘Yet’ didn’t get me.

Perhaps our kids are watching too much TV and when they see other kids throw tantrums; they think it’s how to have their way.

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Many parents have also adopted the “no spanking, let’s talk about it” parenting style. Sometimes it’s just plain difficult to raise an open palm against such angelic faces. Just my thought as I mused over that little display. Our generation was raised differently; we were usually given the eye and it said volumes, especially in public places.

I told myself though, that were that my son, he’ll never  be able to muster such a display in his entire life, but then again, it’s easy for me to say, right? Yeah.

Growing up, my mum had one of such. Now, my mum is no softie; the igbarun, ifoti, abara she doled out to us kids are the stuff of legend. One day, she beat me so hard with a broom, it took days to get all the broom sticks off my skin. What did I do wrong? Simply because I forgot to wash the dishes; common, ordinary dirty stinky dishes, I got the beating of my life.

Then came my younger sister, the child that tamed my parents. She was in many ways different from the rest of us and we were all completely enraptured by this little one that seemed to have all the gifts we her older ones didn’t snag on our way down from heaven to earth. She demonstrated plenty of intelligence early which my parents were quick to see and was tops in her class from the get go.

Then she discovered the power she had over all of us and it wasn’t long before she began to demand for rights that she had no business demanding for.

My baby sister had a rage the size of a category 4 hurricane! It began with little things, like the rest of us not agreeing to her changing the TV channel while we were watching a particularly interesting show or if my mum insisted we ate a particular meal and she wasn’t all for it.

She would start by stamping her little feet and flipping at her ears (I’m surprised those ears never fell off, they are still standing to date). These would start first in slow mo. Then the tempo would increase and when we all pretended not to notice, she would begin to tear around the house in a rage like a hurricane while at the same time working up plenty of sweat and tears. She would knock down tables, dishes, anyone in her path. We would watch, astonished, shocked and often scared as she barged through every solid object in view. If at this dangerous point, she saw us scuttling for cover, she would get more enraged,  and sometimes climb on tables, then fling herself down on the floor, splat! At that point, she’d get everyone’s attention. My mother would be half in tears and ask aloud, “How do you beat a child that is willing to hurt herself?”

When this kept recurring, concerned neighbors advised my mum to boil a stone, because according to them  “This child is testing your patience, boil several smooth stones in water, cook it for long, it will slow down her temper.” Mum boiled the stone but lil sis was still a hurricane.

Then another concerned neighbour whispered, “This one can only be cured with palm oil. Once she starts, give her palm oil,” and so it was that our lil goddess was given palm oil. She even began to demand for palm oil anytime she felt her rage coming on. Hmmmn!

This hurricane ravaged my parents for some years and I mean, to the point she flung herself into the gutter one day, which I think marked the turning point for my parents. My dad stood his ground and forbade anyone from fishing my sister out of the gutter. Lil sis sat there defiant and bleeding all over. After a while, my mum defied my dad and pulled her ‘lil angel’ out of the gutter for a thorough wash.

Where did this temper come from? I’ve seen many parents struggle with kids that just seem to defy beating and “the look”.

“Go to the naughty corner” I’m told works wonders. I’m also aware of several children who haven’t been subdued by this treatment.

“Spare the rod and spoil the child” was the most oft repeated mantra in my growing up years and many parents didn’t spare the rod, in fact, every broken rod was quickly replaced.

Raising kids is not a one size fits all process as each child is unique and will require unique parenting skills. How I wish most kids came with a manual, that way, the parents are warned first hand, “Keep this one fed at odd hours” or “Raise this one with a stick in one hand.”

There are many little hurricanes tearing down the aisles these days and many hapless mums and dads are wondering what to do with their lil gods and goddesses. My parents were able to tame theirs over time; they had plenty of negotiating terms with my baby sister plus a few slaps here and there.

Today, my sister is well adjusted; and as if to punish her, God blessed her with her own  lil hurricane. Finally, my parents are even.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Kennie

    Comment…Pejuuuu!!! Hilarious!!! I laughed so much my jaw ached. The ‘ yet’ hurricane from a strong willed child. My first daughter was like that at 2. I think i broke several combs on her butt!!! I believe strongly that both the rod and negotiating works. Discipline through negative and positive reinforcement works. At age 13 and above deprivation and hard labour with chores work. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child…koboko will drive it far from him/her!!!

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  2. hilda

    Peju! Always on point. You totally nailed this topic. A little negotiation and plenty of koboko works all d time. I can’t remember anyone negotiating with me though during our time. My kids at various stages of their growth have enjoyed both with spicing of abara, ifoti and igbarun and trust me, I have no regrets. Dem head don arrange well well. More ink to your pen, girl.

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