Fun

In Which We Talk About Winning 

One of the fun parts of parenting is seeing aspects of your life so manifest in your children. Often times when the kids take certain actions, I remember when I was younger and how I did or would have done the very same thing. It helps with remaining grounded and sometimes with not being so hard on them. I mean, I did worse things but look at me now 😐
Talking about looking at me, I had to look at the mirror recently and I saw a part of me I didn’t really like and so I am pushing my kids not to be that. I remember how many times I thought maybe I should have entered a competition but never did. I am so afraid of losing that I don’t compete at all. So when this opportunity came up to review a book that one of the kids had read, we all rallied round him and cheered him on into entering. 

Rallying round someone is such a psyche boost. It makes the person feel like a winner already. Rallying round a person should include words of affirmation – You can do it! But it may also include sitting with them, opening a laptop and asking them to hit send😎

Everyone who enters a competition wants to win. But winning means different things to each of us. Mostly it means being recognized for being good at something we love doing. One of the boy’s wants to be a writer, he also wants to be a chef, the other two are more inclined towards the arts. One creates characters and the other does abstract art. Somehow I how they will be alright but I digress.

So he wanted to win this competition and after we hit send we got an invite as one of the shortlisted ones. Then it became, “will I come first”. I remember I had an obsession with coming first in class, I dreamt everyday of beating this girl Eunice and eventually she physically moved away and I got the position. It wasn’t as good as beating her, still…

I just knew this was me years ago and if there is one thing I have learnt, you can be a big fish in a small pond but never allow yourself to believe you’re the biggest fish ever because of the size of your pond. A bigger fish may be let in, or the pond may empty out into a sea full of sharks…or worse. Time and chance is also a critical factor. My son needed to learn that lesson.

So he did win…


He didn’t win what he wanted. But he won something which in itself was more of a lesson than I could have taught in any sermon 😃

Now, I have also learnt my own lesson. Off to enter that competition with entries ending in July…
P.s I have taken to taking the boys out with me sometimes when I’m meeting clients, friends and simply running errands. We see and talk about lots of things and it gives me an opportunity to find out how they think and if they do. One of the boy’s has been so concerned about beggers having so many kids. I am seeing the conciousness awakening in them of societal inequalities, them wanting​ to fight the cause for the poor.

“Why didn’t you give that beggar money?” One of them queried recently. “You have change in your bag.”

Me: 😑

We will all eventually learn…

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In Which We Learn A Lesson in Different Doesn’t Mean Wrong

As a parent, one is constantly on the look out for teaching moments. Especially since these moments don’t just stroll to your front door waiting for you to call out in your best impression of British butler voice, “You may enter.” Sometimes, these moments come as 140 characters disguised as a math joke.

The tweet that started it all

So I read this joke on Twitter which we laughed over. And then I thought it would make a good opportunity to teach the kids something about mental math (Will I ever stop thinking of them as kids?) So I talked about how the interview candidate could have broken the sum down
17×10

17×5

17×4

While I was still calculating, Michael goes 323. 

I was a little confused about how he got the answer so fast and he goes: 

Just multiply 17 by 20 and take away 17.

I would never have gone that route in solving that problem.

So the lesson was actually on me this time. I may not be as smart as I used to think I am…at least not math smart😞 but more important, there can be more than one way to solve a problem. Granted, some may be longer, but ultimately we arrive at the same solution. Isn’t that what really matters?

In which we talk about books.

So it’s no longer news where my interest lies and I’m trying to find which of the kids has the seriousness of wanting to follow my footsteps. Dave is quite clear about what he wants to do. Art is his thing. He spends more time talking about telling stories than actually writing them. Zaram is following Dave’s footsteps, the only time he is quiet is either when he is watching cartoons or drawing. So I’m left with Michael.

Michael is a little tricky. You know the proverbial jack of all trades? He actually wants to be a ‘technaalagist’  but he also loves cooking. Plus he has been saying he will be Nigeria’s youngest author since he turned 12. Oh well, I’m not telling him he won’t be (hehehe)

So, I came across this news item. Little girl, who had read over 1000 books at the age of 4. Michael wanted to know how she could have done it. Well my theory is that she probably started reading about age 2 and reads more than a book everyday. And then I say, ‘you should he reading lots of books too’. 

He turns to me and goes ‘naa watching tv is better.’ Before I can recover with a good enough retort he goes, ‘besides, watching tv is like reading.’

‘No,’ I respond.’It’s not the same.’

‘But it leads to the same thing,’ he insists.

‘No it doesn’t,’ I respond. Michael is such a pain.

‘Look at it this way,’ he says pointedly. ‘Someone writes the story, the actors read the lines and then read it to me when they say it. See they are reading to me and when I listen, Im reading too.”

I think I’m getting too old for these kids. Speaking of old, they have finally stopped calling me old. According  to Michael, ‘that line is old’.

😑

In Which we talk about ‘length’.

Two things I will never understand about boys. I think the first is because I do not have the anatomy of a guy. So, the other day the boys were discussing length. No, strike that, they were arguing over who is longer.

If you follow my other blog, you’d find an article titled ‘what’s in a length’ in which I went to great scientific lengths to explain that length does not matter..

And here I was, listening in as my boys (who were definitely not having sex yet) argue about the length of their penises.  Well, I ignored them until they started making fun of the one whose penis is shortest (name withheld for security reasons) Like a good mama, I told them that when the time comes, length wouldn’t really be an issue and then I walked on before they could ask any further questions.

Annnnnnnd then…
I still can’t understand why guys think getting hurt while playing football confers some status on them. The other day, Zaram came inside smiling broadly. I genuinely thought there was a joke until he showed me the bruise and then proudly said: “See my wound…I got it when I was playing football”.
*sigh

In Which I Teach Michael He Doesn’t Always Have to be Number One.

*Clears cobwebs

I know, its been a while and it’s not because nothing has been happening. To the contrary, so much has been happening and I haven’t had the time to put them down.

One of the most recent was the double graduation of number 1 and number  3. Yep, Michael is saying bye to primary school and Dave is going to be Senior David next year.

image

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Those are the two boys on their happy days. But happy days also come with lessons.

It’s funny how all kids are different and you need to create a separate template for each one. I find that Michael is a lot like me. He has been at the top percentile of his class for as long as I can remember. In grade 3 he came 1st for the first time (which reminds me of me:) Don’t laugh, I’m not making that up.)

Anyway, I find that unlike his siblings that I need to remind to be better academically, I need to remind Michael that it’s okay for someone else to better than he is. Plus, he doesn’t take losing to anyone, so I need to teach him that it’s okay to fail as long as you rise and try again.

So, Michael didn’t make valedictorian because he had to change school’s mid session. He felt so horrible about it that it almost ruined the day. Thanks to all that called to make him feel special, the day was eventually back on course. I had to take time out during the programme to remind him of all the reasons why he didn’t come out tops and explain that it really wasn’t his fault. I reassured him that I knew what he was capable of and then ended up by reminding him that it’s okay if someone is better and what really matters is the best he is.

After all my preaching, Michael turns to me and says : “Guess who will be the best overall in JS One? Me!” That’s Michael for the win!!

Okay…so I’m hoping he at least got the point.

Aside:

It’s not everyday ones kid reminds one not to drink direct from the bottle. Truth be told, that’s what one should be telling one’s kid. So it was kinda weird when I decided to take a drink straight from the bottle and Zaram goes:

“Straw mum, you should use the straw. You are not an animal.”

Another aside:

The fights are still on (heaven help me). So I decided since you don’t use violence to end violence I need to find a non-violent way of making them stop. Last time Zaram hit Michael, I asked him to kneel and face the wall.

After a while, Zaram turns to me and says:
“Mom I promise I won’t hit him again…unless he gets me angry.”

And finally…

Let me leave you a screen shot of this convo I had with Michael earlier in the day:

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Yes, Nigeria is my country.

In Which Dave Makes Fruit Salad

Three times he called that day reminding me to not forget. The items he listed were bananas, apples and yoghurt. As far as I was concerned there was really no relationship between the three. Okay, apples and bananas were fruits but that’s where it stopped.

It decided to rain after work that day and I had all but given up on the search for the fruits. So by the time the fourth came in I was ready to tell him I couldn’t find any of the fruits. But there was something about the way he asked that made me hold back.

Heading home, sharing a senior colleagues umbrella, I casually mentioned to her that Dave had been hounding me with calls. She told me I should do everything in my power to buy the fruits. “You should be glad that he is asking for fruits”.

So, I found and bought the fruits getting soaked in the process (yeah, happy mother’s day to you too), took the fruits home and handed them to Dear Dave. Boy, was he excited! He disappeared into the kitchen for a while and when he came out. He offered me this [Bottom of the Page]

Well, I must say I have never tasted a combination of fresh apples and bananas with yoghurt topping. This tasted reeeeeaaally good! Whoever said we can’t learn from kids 😀

Aside: I have figured out how to make my voice heard around the house…by not saying anything. I have learnt that each time I shout the kids just give me that mum-haven’t-you-learnt-anything-yet look. So these days all I do is walk quietly by and the kids nudge themselves into action.

NB. If you haven’t been brushing your teeth twice a day, I think you should start and if you have kids like me then teach them to make it a habit…and don’t forget to throw out your toothbrush every 3 months. Trust me you don’t want Michael to reminding you how stingy you are for not changing your tooth brush!

In Which I am Accused of Child Abuse

Michael/Zaram have settled into a funny routine. I don’t think funny is the word should be using, annoying more of. They just stare at computer games and play level after level and forget the world around them.

You call and call and they either can’t hear you or pretend they can’t. Zaram has been on my case. He wants a touchscreen phone (Like seriously, he wants me to support this addiction?)

Anyway, on this day they are engrossed in one one of those games and I ask them to come and eat. Everyone one leaves except Michael. Eventually he steps out of their room and comes to me.

‘Do you know you have been committing child abuse?’

‘What?!’ I asked totally not understanding him.

‘Child abuse’, he repeats.

‘How?’ I asked a little more calmly.

‘How can you be forcing someone to eat, don’t you know that is child abuse?’

I looked at him wondering what to do with him. Any ideas?

Aside:

One of those days I was half listening because I was doing a million other things and Dave kept bugging me with questions about Jupiter and the moon. I kept saying “I don’t know” to each question and then he asks (In retrospect this was actually to check if I’ve been listening) what a lunar eclipse is. I responded like a broken record: I don’t know.

He goes quiet for a bit and then says: but we read the other day “ask and you shall be given”. I smiled because I felt I have a hip intelligent answer up my sleeve.
“That was Jesus speaking, not me”, I said.
“But you said to follow Jesus example all the time. Do you want to change your mind now?”

I can never win with these boys can I?

In Which I Get Dinner in Bed

It was one of those extra tiring days. The office was not that kind to me. I had stared at the computer screen all day expanding writing and editing. I came home zapped.

I had to knock for a few minutes before the door was opened meanwhile I heard frantic movements of people trying to put the house in order.

“Not there”, yelled Dave, trying not to yell, “put it there”

I knocked again, rather impatiently. All I wanted was to get into the house and take off my shoes. I had a short vision of a foot massage I knew I wouldn’t get

“Get the brush”
It was David again. This kids were actually planning on leaving me outside until they cleaned up???

I suddenly realised I had a spare key tucked in somewhere in my bag. I digged for it and finally, “eureka”!

I walked in and everyone froze.
“Welcome Ma”, David led the pack and the two others echoed a greeting in unison.

The living room looked like a hurricane had gone right through it or to put it in my mother’s words, “like the occupants hastily moved out”. I didn’t have the strength to talk about the room, so I nodded to their greeting, walked past them all with the grimmest expression I could muster and headed for my room. (They weren’t expecting that)

I heard them quareling with themselves in an undertone; trading blames as to what they should or shouldn’t have done. I must have slept off cos next thing Dave was tapping me asking me to wake up and eat. (Apparently he had warmed soup and made eba) I got up to eat and went straight back to sleep.

Next day, I was to deal with the collateral damage of the previous day. The kitchen was a mess! Like I have come to know: For every good thing the kids do, I expect to spend hours doing it better.

Aside
So the boys have suddenly taken an interest in my virtual life. If you follow me on Twitter you may have read on the TL of how Michael pulled a stunt two nights ago.

Well just now I got a mini query
Dave: Why aren’t you using us as your twitter display picture anymore?
Me: Cos I don’t like you guys anymore
Dave: So you now like Louisa (Louisa is their cousin whose photo is on my Twitter)
Me: Yup
Dave (to Michael): That means we have to do something soon.
Michael: Yeah, we need some dynamites to blow her to bits

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 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 😦