In which I was gobsmacked

I think I have blogged in not so passing that the kids have a way of turning my house upside down. This is more of a cause of conflict between us because I am a bit fussy about things always being left at the right place and walking into a room that smells fresh.

Well, I mentioned to my friend Efe how it was making me really sad that the kids just won’t pitch in and I get so tired having to spend so much time cleaning and scrubbing (In fact, last Saturday, I cleaned from morning till 4pm and by the next day I was running a fever). Efe made a suggestion which I almost laughed off but on second thoughts I felt well, anything is worth a try!

In Efe’s mind he believed that I could get the children to work by signing a work contract with them. (Hahahaha). Look, I know my kids, they are sweet and everything but they have no desire for work.

Anyway,  I sat the boys down and we talked about the contract. Michael was more interested in the finer details. How much would he earn for specific duties. Dave’s concern was more on whether I would keep the terms of the contract.  “How are  we sure you will keep your side of the bargain”, he asked. He finally agreed to a gentleman’s agreement until we put pen to paper.

Next day, I went to work and forgot all about our conversation until I got back home in the evening. First shocker was the veranda. It was neat and well arranged. By the time I got into the house, I was faced by three workmen waiting for their wages.

The house was spick and span. All the plates in the kitchen were washed. The stove was clean. Everything was just right. I had no choice but to pay up!

Yesterday, it was trade by barter. My chocolate biscuits for the hard days job. Today, I still met the whole house clean plus I got frozen strawberry and yoghurt with a dash of pear mix as their ‘welcome home mum’ treat. I made the first payment of N300 today. And found out they have a box where they intend to be saving their pay (Apparently, they had discussed and agreed on this. Everything I pay will be saved up till
school resumes. I even overheard them discussing how they will be making N1,500 a week).

Who would have thought that these kids would be motivated by money. I am still gobsmacked!

Speaking of them being kids…

Aside

Michael made a declaration the other day which I am still trying to wrap my head around

“I’m not a kid, I’m a child”.

Is there a difference?

Another aside: Michael the smartarse asks: if no one has seen God, how do we know whether he is male or female?

This one would have defeated me if I didn’t think fast on my feet. Well I did. Gave him an answer that he couldn’t refute.

If God was a woman, why would Jesus refer to him as ‘Our father’?

It’s great to be a parent sometimes, ain’t it?

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In which we talk about the Ebola virus.

Well, it’s no longer news that Ebola is in Nigeria. So in the spirit of information dessemination, I reminded the kids of the need to wash their hands with soap and water once they come into the house (standard practice is to wash hands and feet after playing outside)

As expected, they wanted to know why the rule needed repeating so I had to tell them about Ebola and how it is spread. They had a few questions which I felt bothered on panic after I told them that they must not go near a sick person: what if you get sick?

I told them I wouldn’t put any of them at risk if I get sick. I would go straight to the hospital and call them from there.

What if one of us gets sick?

Brethren, I think I said what any mother would have said. My response was: I’d have no choice but to take care of you.
(But really, I can’t imagine not holding any of my sons because they have some incurable disease. Maybe I’m crazy)

“What will happen when we start school”, Michael asked.

“Didn’t  you hear when mum said you have to be ill to spread the virus”, was Dave’s retort. “What would a sick person be doing in school?”

I was just about to agree with Dave when Michael made a valid point:

“Havent you seen when a person was fine when he got to school and then got sick after…because me I have seen”.

And so valid question: will the children return to school in September if this thing has not blown over by then?

I had no answer for Michael. Please share if you have one.

Aside
So Dave asked me a question the other day: “Mum, when a guy says to a lady, ‘give me some sugar’, what does he mean?”

Told him it means the lady should go into the kitchenabd get him sugar.

Dave looks at me in disbelief. “Thats not what it means. Why don’t you want to tell me what it really means”.

Michael responds “Maybe because she does not want to corrupt your little mind”.

And another aside:
We got a call this morning that we should bath with salt and warm water because of Ebola. I relayed the call to the kids and Michael asks: “just salt and water? I thought you said Ebola doesn’t have a cure?”

End of church service.

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

image

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 We Talk About Marital Rape

It’s Sunday.

Yes, I know you know that already but I’m just reminding myself and you that you don’t get off days from parenting. It’s a 24/7 appointment and you’d better know that before you take on the assignment. Yep, it goes far beyond donating sperms and incubating them in your womb after fertilisation has taken place. Parenting is hard work.

So, we read Matthew 7:7 during worship and Dave decides he needs to exercise his right to questioning and getting me to provide answers. Oh, I’ll let you into his question soon enough but let me state that one of the responsibilities of parenthood is having the answers to all questions or at least having an idea how to get the answers. I don’t want that look of disappointment when my son asks a question and realises I don’t have a clue…especially experiential questions.

So Dave asks: How does a man rape a woman to whom he is married? My first reasoning was whether he wasn’t too young to destroy his innocence about what goes on behind closed doors. Do I really need to tell him that sex can be used to hurt rather than to love? And why was he asking anyway?

I thought maybe I should stall the question. I was quite capable of making him forget the question but for some reason I felt it was best to answer. What if he decided to go ask his friends?

I told him it was quite possible and he asked again how that can happen. “A man marries a woman he loves, so he can’t hurt her. Is it that the woman stops loving the man?”

So first we talk about rape in general. About ‘no’ meaning ‘no’ and not ‘maybe’ and then I tell him about how a woman may come home tired and not wanting sex that night and the husband wants it and she says ‘no’ and he goes ahead anyway.

And then he asks ‘so there are times the wife does not want it?’. I respond in the positive and again I mention she may be tired. And then he goes ‘I get it! The man can come home early cook and take care of the kids so that when she gets back she won’t be too tired for him!” (I think my boy just grew 100 yards of husband material)

We talked about other ways a man can show thoughtfulness and he listened quite attentively. I think he was taking mental notes. I reminded him again that no matter how aroused the man felt he must not force the wife to have sex if she says no. He got the point and suddenly couldn’t wait to move on to other things.

I think discussing sex with the boys is one of the harder things I have had to do. But, I am grateful to God that they come to me with their sex related questions. No matter how awkward it sometimes feels, I wouldn’t want to have it any different.

Aside: so while we were having the sex conversation, I made a discovery. The kids obviously didn’t know you can make love without making babies.
Zaram blurted out flabbergasted: “Have sex for fun???!!! You man you can have sex without getting pregnant???!!!” I had to find a way of explaining that sex could be awesome without actually making them want to experience it. Don’t ask me how I did that please x_x

Cheerios!

In Which Dave Comes Home With A Swollen Lip

I got home at the usual time this evening. The burglary proof doors was open…now that was not unusual. The living room was upside down, that was usual and I saw Michael fleeing into his room naked. Yup, that too was usual.

I walked in complaining straight up of how they left the gate open when Dave popped out. His lips were twice as large as they were when he left home this morning. Now that was very very unusual.

I reacted the same way every mother would have reacted…I think. Shock!

In the next couple of minutes Dave explained how he had got into a disagreement with a boy in his class and the boy had decided to settle it with his fist. He had the broken/swollen lip to show for it. According to him, the school VP had settled it by punishing the boy who later came to apologise. So case closed.

I didn’t think it should be case closed and I told him so. I was going to be at his school tomorrow. Well, Dave didn’t think it was a good idea. In fact, he said the trip was going to be a waste cos its not like the boy would be punished again.

After giving this a thought, I announced I was still going to be at the school.
“Fine, its your decision”, was David’s response.
Now, I didn’t exactly like how that sounded. So, I was forced to explain my visit was just to know exactly what happened. And he responded with one of those looks that said: so you don’t believe me?

Alright, here I am wondering if there is some kinda “cool keeds” code which says “Mama shouldn’t show up in school cos some dude punched you in the face especially if dude has said he is sorry”. Is there?

This is kinda like an emergency, so I really need your comments.

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 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…