Month: May 2014

In Which The Boys Bond With Mister Mobility

There is this fear I have. Maybe other parents have it too. It’s the fear of having my kids say the wrong things in public.

I remember trying to give Dave the eye once. We were at a shop and he was rattling on endlessly, touching everything and asking questions with his “I just got back” accent and generally embarrassing me. When he eventually caught my eye he asked: is there something wrong with your eye mum?

Kids!

So when my friend Yomi Adegboye, aka @Mister_Mobility agreed to be my date for the Twitter Premier League and I knew he’d be in close proximity with the kids, I was a little wary. I couldn’t pre-empt what type of stunt the kids would pull. I didn’t have to wait for long.

Yomi was to first drop them off at my elder sister’s. She had agreed to watch them while I attend the games. No sooner had they entered the car than they began to ‘show’ themselves.

Michael started off by telling Mister Mobility that when he grows up, he’d like to own a car like his. Mister Mobility graciously responded that he will own an even better one. That was as nice as they were going to get.

A discussion about the car ac came up and Mister Mo said he had turned it to the last nudge. Dave responded that he was an 18th century man. “Who else would use a word like nudge?”. He even went as far as spelling it, “n-u-d-g-e is a word from the 18th century”, he declared and no one was going to tell him different.

The kids were just warming up.

Michael next attacked the car. The same car he was so proud of a few moments ago was now labelled “fake”. The car’s crime was that it didn’t have an arm rest at the back seat. “This car is fake”, Michael cried “it doesn’t have arm rest safety for babies. Who does that?”, he asked in his best Cath imitation. “Imagine how many babies will be hurt because they have no place to rest their hands”.

Well, Dave must have seen how embarrassed I was at this point because his retort to Michael was, “Didn’t mom ever teach you to be polite?”

Okay I give up!

Thank God Mister Mo was a sport and he made excuses for the boys. “That’s how men bond”, he told me. Who would have thunk!

Aside: For some weird reason I still cannot figure out, Dave has taken to calling me smallie mummy. I hope this will be a passing fad like when he decided to call me by my first name. It been close to two months. I’m still bigger than him, so I really can’t get this.

Another Aside: So the other day, a friend of the family sent the kids a greeting through my phone and I read it to them.

Dave was so moved by the message that he declared:

“I am going to be the first person to discover that the Dodo bird and the Snow Mink are not extinct”

Michael gives him a look, that would translate to Youdonmeanit and then tells him

“Newsflash, those birds are already extinct”.

Talk about a downer!

In Which I have a talk with Michael

“Mom am I a bad person?”

When your 10 year old asks you a question like that, impulsively the answer is no. Why would he even begin to think he was a bad person. So I reassured him that he wasn’t a bad person. I told him he was cute and cuddly and sweet…

He gave me a strange look. Suggesting he knew I was going overboard with the niceties. So I stopped and repeated that he was not a bad person.

“So why are my brothers always making fun of me and saying I should go away?”

Now, this wasn’t a terrain I was new to. When I was growing up, I had 5 siblings and I was subject to mocking from one of my brothers especially because whenever they did something they shouldn’t, I was the loud mouth who would always rat them out. I remember being called mortar and pestle – suggestive of the fact that back then nature wasn’t smiling on me on the height part. I would cry so much each time. One day though my mum told me that each time someone said something hurtful to me and I cried about it, I was giving the person power to do it some more. I think that was the day of my liberation.

I wasn’t ready to give Michael the sermon of power…yet. So I just told him that was what brothers did. They teased and fought and then made up. And that he shouldn’t take it to heart. Then I called Dave, the villain in this episode, and warned him about using hurtful words on his brother. And then all was well with the universe again.

…until the next fight.

I hate it when the kids fight. But then they say boys will always be boys. Last night, Dave was again the villain who took the pillow that Zaram wanted. After trying the physical and Dave wasn’t bulging, he went psychological. He would sleep on the cold floor in protest.

And then I, the hitherto spectator, was dragged into becoming judge. It’s hard to step into such matters without being seen as taking one persons side against the other. So I changed the issue from who gets the pillow to who doesn’t get to sleep on the floor. *sigh
I finally got Zaram to call off the protest by emotional appeal and threats. (Well, I had to use the last weapon in my arsenal for maximum effects). I can’t wait for them to grow out of this stage.

Aside:
Michael is still on this issue of how he will find a wife who is not his sister. I’ve tried explaining about us not really being related to everyone in rhe world and it aint working. Any takers?

Another aside:
It’s always crazy when your kids use your own reasoning against you. Here’s a convo I had with Michael yesterday that left me speechless

Me: Go and eat.
Michael: I want to finish my homework.
Me: Go and eat first, the homework is not running
Michael: I know but time flies
Me: *Speechless

On to the next one…

In Which I Force The Boys to Eat Their Veggies

A friend of mine told me of how she has to cook four different dishes per meal to make her family happy. Essentially, each of her children, there are three of them, decide what they want each day and she provides it. Her kids hardly agree on anything. I doff my hat for her. I guess she is able to accomplish this because she likes cooking and the kitchen. Not me.

I like my boys to eat healthy so I ensure that I give them something of all the classes of food each day. Unfortunately, they hate veggies. I remember the few times I have gone to great lengths to make fried rice only for them to pick out all the veggies and drop on one side-making a mess in the process-and eating up all the rice.

They also hate seeing onions and tomatoes in the stew, it has to be properly blended. I on the other hand, love seeing the tomatoes and onions in the stew, so you see…we have a problem.

Most times they win because I really want them to eat and add some flesh (sigh, mama’s love) but on this day I insisted they must eat the onions so I force fed them (-_-) I can still remember the look on Michael’s face as he chewed and swallowed with a gulp, then I made them sit with me until I was sure that they wouldn’t go and throw up.

I served up their lunch with the same type of stew and they went off to school. Next day, I met the food in their plates, wasted, barely touched. I gave up! Right now, I’m back to blending. I need the kids to eat *sigh. Yeah, they win, I lose…what can a mother do?

Aside: a friend sent me a DM the other day complaining about her daughter refusing to eat anything else but rice and spaghetti. According to her the daughter only picks at other foods. I responded that she should try and cajole her into eating. She could promise her a treat if she eats other foods.

Unknown to me, Michael was seated behind me, the moment I hit the send button he asked:

“Mum, really?”
“Really what?”
“Really, she should beg her to eat, promise her a treat?”
I pretended like I couldn’t hear him
“So you tell your friend to beg her daughter and then you force food down our throats”.

Did I mention that I need a holiday?

In Which We Talk About The Abducted Girls

I had generally skirted over the discussion when we talked about kidnapping last time, but yesterday it was an impossible discussion to avoid as Dave cornered me in the kitchen.

“Mum, what happened with those girls”
“What girls?”
“The girls everyone has been talking about.”
“The Chibok girls?”
“Yes”
“They were abducted”
“How?”

That was actually the question I was avoiding. The how part. Four weeks and we don’t have a single version of the how part.

“I don’t know exactly how it happened,” I started. “All we can say is that some people went to these girl’s school and took them away”

“How???!!!” That was Michael
“You mean they couldn’t call 911?’ Dave interjected
“112”, I put in
“Yeah, 112”

This was the part of the story that confused me the more, so I decided to give them the story, all I know, as a reporter would.

I told them of how the abductors had posed as soldiers and deceived the girls. How some later escaped and how the rest are still being held. I skipped the part about the authorities having warning in advance and the conflicting stories of what really happened that night.

“So what’s happening now?”

“Will we get them back”

“That’s our prayer” I responded.

“If they catch that Shekau guy, he should be fenced into the deadliest part of Venom island”, David declared.

“What’s on Venom Island?” I asked

“Commodore dragons, and black mambas and spike fishes and puffer fish whose stings can make you delirious…”

The conversation shifted to wildlife and my thoughts remained for a while with the girls and the terror activities in the North as I wondered whether my country would win this war.

In Which Dave Lies to a Caller

I take lying very seriously. I don’t think its something you laugh or gloss over. I am one of those who believe that as far as you can you should be truthful in all circumstances. Lying breeds distrust. Distrust means the relationship is dead.

I encourage my kids not to lie. In fact, I’ve made it like a rule that if any of them are caught in a lie they will surely be punished but if they tell the truth they may just end up with serious scolding.

So you can imagine how surprised I was a few days ago when Dave told a lie to cover up for me without my even asking him to.

Someone called the house quite late at night. I recognised the number, told him who it was (it was someone he knew too) and asked him to take the call. (This wouldn’t be the first time he would be taking a call from this number)

So he took the call. I lay back and shut my eyes for a bit and then he goes quiet. I turn to look at him and then he looks me right in the eye while speaking into the phone and says:
“She is fine, but she is sleeping”.
I couldn’t believe my ears.

I asked him about it later and he says: “You closed your eyes and was looking at me somehow”. I told him it was unnecessary to have lied since I didn’t ask him to. He apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again…I have a feeling that is the bigger lie. Actually, that’s what’s really scary.

My theory is that he told the lie to ‘protect’ me. What do you think?

Aside:

So Dave obviously can’t tell mascara from lipstick. I’m hoping this is a skill he will learn soon. Just the other day he picked up my mascara and asked “black lipstick, are you a teenager that you use black lipstick?’

Another Aside

Michael obviously thinks there is something funny about the book title Lamb Tales From Shakespeare” so he asks:

“Did you get a lamb’s tale from a guy called Shakespeare?”

Make of that what you will.

Final Aside

I reproduced this conversation between Michael and Zaram word for word. Enjoy!

Zaram: He is just a moronga
Michael: What the heck is a moronga, don’t you mean moron?
Zaram: I mean moronga
Michael: *Scoffs
Zaram: Okay you what does moron mean?
Michael: Someone who is senseless
Zaram: Useless???!!!
Michael: No I said senseless
Zaram: I thought you said useless
Michael: That’s because you have a rare case of not-hearingtitis

#TheEnd

In Which I learn some new vocabulary

My colleague cornered me at work the other day to talk to me about how a kidnapping ring had been burst close to her mom’s house which incidentally was at the same general area I live.

According to her, the kidnappers had stolen the two kids but their mute voodoo didn’t work on them. The children screamed until passersby heard them and went ahead to rescue the kids. They also found the kidnapper’s lair to be full of kids skulls. She advised that I talk to my kids so they can be on the alert.

So this morning as the kids prepared for school, I decided to have the talk with them.

No sooner had I mentioned the word kidnap and Dave said he already knew the story. Michael said their teachers had already had the talk with them. I understood this to mean “shut up mum, we got this one covered”. But like a typical mum, I ignored their unspoken words and launched into the usual advice. I started with “don’t accept stuff from strangers”. Dave cut in with, “why should we even be talking to strangers”.

Before I could say “Dave”, he had taken over my kidnap education class. He told his brothers that if a stranger as much as looked at them in a way they didn’t like, they should run away screaming into the nearest crowd. “It will be more difficult to grab anyone in a crowd”, he said solemnly. I just nodded in agreement. (I probably should have just shut up)

Aside:

It’s incredible how kids create non words and assign it their own meaning. It’s even more incredible when they expect you to know the meanings of the words.

So when Dave asked, “Mum what’s a boo boo?” I thought for a moment. His pronunciation didn’t help: did he mean boo boo, the Nigerian women’s dress. Or was he doubling ‘beau’ and meant darling or lover or…

“Let me make it easier for you, What’s your boo boos”

“Oh”, I believed I finally had it figured out, “You mean breasts?”

He rolled his eyes like he believed I could easily make top 10 in the world’s dumbest list.

“Boo boo simply means wound.”

“Wou…What???!!!”

“Mum, you really should watch more TV. That was from Doc McStuffings.”

It was my turn to give him the top-10-world-dumbest-list eye roll.

A Further Aside

So Michael refused to finish the slice of bread Zaram started eating. When I queried him, he goes “Mum, how do you expect me to eat something touched by Bacterium Chizaramtitis?”

I think I should to stop these kids from watching so much television.

In Which We Try To Find An English Word For Turny Gari.

There is nothing in parenting I have found to be as tiring as resolving conflicts among children. There is always the tendency of taking the side of the one you consider weaker in a given situation.

The other day Dave accused me of not loving him enough. I asked him why he would think that. He launched into a story of how he is always the one who takes the blame when his younger ones go wrong. How no matter what happens I always find a way of making it look like he is the one in the wrong.

After his submissions, I reminded him that as the oldest he should know he has greater responsibility. And I promised to be fairer. We parted as friends with him hugging me and saying: “That’s why I love you mum, you are the best mum in the world”. (Hmmm)

I think the issue of feeling unloved is real. I felt so several times as a middle child. Neither here nor there and I think…and this thought just came as I was typing this, that I am compensating by showing more love for my middle son. Then there is the last born, my baby. Between the two of them, Dave doesn’t seem to stand that much of a chance.

I probably should save him a cuddle for tonight.

In more flabbergasting news: Zaram came to make a complaint to me last night and he went:

Mum, I didn’t do anything to Dede and the used that eba wood to rub on my body.

Eba wood???!!! I burst out laughing

As my laughter recedes with Zaram joining in because he just saw how ridiculous it sounded, Michael asks: so what is it called in English?

Dave came in and called it Turny Gari. Michael argues its not an English word and turns to me and says: Mum, you were the one laughing, tell us what it is called in English.

I’m still thinking.

Do you know what its called in English?

In which I am asked Tough Questions

One of the skills I have had to master as a parent is that of paying attention without listening. Don’t judge me please. It may not be the absolute best thing but in between cooking and cleaning and completing that task which must be on the MD’s desk first thing in the morning, one has to learn to have an attentive look with ones mind far from the incessant chattering and repetitive questioning of Zaram.

But when one of them comes up to say ‘mum, we need to talk’, you just know that it’s time to listen with your eyes and ear.

So Dave had a case:

‘Mum, it’s time you let us out to see the world’

I stared at him with a blank expression. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Did he mean travel? Last time I checked he was still 12.

‘I saw my friend Obi the other day and he told me he thought I was dead’.

‘Dead? Why would he think that?’

‘Because he hasn’t seen me in a long while’.

‘That he hasn’t seen you doesn’t mean you are dead’.

‘That’s the point mum. You never let us go anywhere. You are always trying to protect us in this cocoon’.

I found myself wondering if at his age I knew what the word ‘cocoon’ meant. He did have a point though, at his age I used to school at Omole Grammar School Isheri and I remember that when it rains I’d walk all the way home to GRA. But now I couldn’t even get myself to let him go across the road on his own.

‘Mum, we are boys. We can take care of ourselves. At least let us visit our friends sometimes, please’.

I promised to give this a thought. I’m still thinking *sigh. It’s hard watching these kids grow and trying to act all independent. I wish…actually I don’t wish, yet…

Aside:
I always try not to get caught by the trick questions these kids come up with. But sometimes I have absolutely no idea where they are coming from. Like when Michael came up to me in the kitchen:

‘Mum, we are all brothers and sisters right? You know, everyone in the world, we have same parents: Adam and Eve right?’

‘Yes’, I responded trying to ensure I don’t allow the plantain I was frying burn. It was at that delicate point between being all nice and brown and being burnt.

‘But you also said we can’t marry our brothers and sisters didn’t you?’

‘Of course you can’t’, I answered before I realised just where he was going.

‘So where will I find a wife, outer space?’

I need me the super power of mind reading 😦