A good week to everyone once again. I know what I want to talk about this week but I’m not sure how to go about putting it down. This is probably because I know little or nothing about the subject even though I sojourned at the subject’s home a long while ago – children.
My very close encounter with this incredible specie came for the first time in the past weekend when my very dear friend Dekunle came to Nigeria spend to celebrate his mother’s 70th birthday in Lagos. He came with his family: his wife and two young sons aged one and two and a half. Having not seen him in almost a year, I naturally went to spend the weekend at his house. We, our circle of friends; Dekunle, JB and Lamide hung out, as is our custom, at his, despoiling platters of suya, grilled chicken and yes, quaffed copious amounts of liquor amidst raucous jest and laughter. Mostly throwing jibes at one another especially JB whose turn it was to be the butt our jokes this time around owing to his usual tall tales. This time, when we asked him why his car was so badly smashed in front, he told us he smashed it against his gate in a rush to get home so he wouldn’t blow his head gasket because his engine was overheating. We all knew that the road to his house was so bumpy anything above 3km/h would be breakshock speed. His car would have to travel at speeds of at least 40km/h to effect the kind of damage inflicted on it and we hounded him mercilessly with this theory until at last, in exasperation, he stalked off much to our glee. But JB my spoilt silver spooned brat friend is not the subject of my post today but Dekunle’s George and Tim, and David their cousin.
I was partially given charge over George, Tim and David, their cousin, for a substantial part of the weekend by their parents. I think what was more daunting for me was that it wasn’t so much as cleaning up after them that was my task, which I hardly did, as it was that Dekunle seemed to want me to be a part of the boys’ upbringing in their formative years. This I found the harder of the two tasks as I found myself watching the boys’ every move, their motivations, their motor skills, the ways they tackled different challenges that presented themselves to them. Like I said, George is two and a half years old, Tim just a year old and David four. Before this time I had a wariness of children especially from infancy to the toddler stage, I wouldn’t say morbid, but it was paralyzing all the same. I always pictured them as eternally screaming tearaways who seemed perpetually bent on putting themselves in harm’s way, pooping all over the place, smashing everything in sight and putting a permanent end to their parents’ peace and independence until they (the parents) were too old to enjoy anything they would ordinarily have done in their youth. I slowly began to see the reward loving parents have in the midst of all this ‘chaotic’ behaviour.
Because I couldn’t just let them be, just in case they curiously stuck their fingers in an electric socket or pulled a television set unto their delicate heads, I had to keep them within sight and engage them in play, conversation, admonish them when necessary and encourage them when tackling a problem. I slowly and surely began to see their individual personalities begin to unfold as they played, fought, tried to get my attention. I began to see which one was the most focused, which one was the most caring, which one was the most cunning and instinctively found myself working out how best to strengthen each child’s weaker point while administering the same love to all, which was the main thing I found they thrived on. It was like watching a budding flower unfold; it was simply beautiful. Suddenly all the wahala (trouble) children are known for simply paled to insignificance in the face of this wonderful potential to be cultivated and harvested. I found myself thinking of what games to play with them, what lessons to teach them, what things to shield them from and such like. What was even more miraculous was the blueprint was already there from birth to be worked on, A blueprint that even a half witted but loving parent could, with dedication, mould the child into the most wonderful swan (if I may be permitted to use this figure of speech) ever to be with the best of them. Their propensity for learning was simply astounding. They soaked up knowledge like the desert does water.
I could go on and on but space and good sense dictates that I be frugal with my words. I desperately hope that I have managed to share some of this glow that warms my heart with such hope, faith and love. And I am not being syrupy here – I absolutely hate soppy syrupy stuff. This is the manly me saying, “Hm, it wouldn’t be bad at all going for this stuff”, and if I hear any “Awwww, that is so sweet!” from anybody, I’ll crack that person’s skull! Now I understand why and how children are such a blessing, why they are our future, our reward and why we must not be just biological parents to them but really be their guide to their future. Just a few hours of concentrated attention devoted to them will make all the difference. Sadly I have to stop here or risk writing a thesis but I leave in the hope that I have shared something of my experience. Have a blessed week everyone!