Thin line between loving your child and raising a brat.
I have a friend I have known for over 10 years. The second time we met, I was waiting for my cousin outside the Kenchic on University Way and she spotted me leaning on the wall right next to the entrance, devouring a Kebab. It was Friday evening, precisely 5.00pm. She was on her way to visit her boyfriend in Kabete Campus where she would spend the weekend. She came over to me, hugs and kisses were exchanged and she immediately cancelled her trip. Note, this was our second encounter, the first being in 2000 when I had visited my cousin during school holidays. They were roommates and bossom buddies, and they showed me how to paint the town red then. I wanted to be them. I needed to pass my exams so badly so that I can have my own cubicle in “box”, cook my meals in tiny sufurias and laugh the night away with friends as we talked about anything but books. Back then, phones were a luxury only a few could afford and so we communicated through letters sent through the post office. In our last communication, we agreed that I board the 1.30pm mololine matatu from Nakuru (shuttles were not there then). It would take 3 hours to get to Nairobi given the terrible state of the road. My cousin was to meet me at the bus stop at 4.30pm. Her friend, let’s call her Wamz, said that there was no telling how long my cousin would take as they had exams. So she left a note for her with the cashier at Kenchic, a fat middle aged man in a blue shirt with the tag “Kenchic” on the left breast pocket, who was more than happy to receive the note. He seemed to know Wamz well, and my cousin too, as Wamz did not have to describe my cousin. They must be regulars at this joint, I thought to myself. I did not understand how they could afford the 50 bob kebab on the regular though! But maybe they were not kebab fans as much I was. Fries were 30 Bob, quite fair for students.
Fast forward to 2008. I did get my own cubicle alright, first in hall four, then hall six, then the last two years in Chiromo. My friend Wamz graduated, got a job and a baby boy too. This story is really not about my life in campus, sorry to disappoint you hehe. It’s about raising a disciplined child.
Meet 7 year old Brian (not real name), Wamz son. Not your typical seven year old. He once came over to my house and found thehubs having drinks with his friends. He sat with them, with his glass of juice in one hand, and his tablet for playing games in the other, explaining to them how it works. They had all sorts of intriguing conversations, from soccer, to rugby, to golf and politics and he had something to say abouth each of the subjects. He took the last sip of his juice, stood up to take the glass to the kitchen and offered to get someone to refill one of the guy’s drink, and cleared one of the glasses that sat idle on the stool. My daughter was asleep then, and when she woke up, they played with puzzles and blocks. It was nothing like the usual screaming and breaking of stuff that I am used to when my daughter’s friends and cousins come over. After about an hour, it was time for dinner. They tidied up and when they went to her room and found it in a mess, with toys all over, I overheard him tell her “You need to keep your room in order. Let me help you.” He shocks me by the day.
His mom started disciplining him when he turned two. She would literally throw him in the dark room when he did wrong and after minutes of crying, he would ask to come out, apologise and they would hug. She never let any wrong go unpunished. And when he did good, she showed him love and admiration with the same tenacity as she would punish him when he did wrong. Whenever they were in the supermarket and he asked for stuff that the mom felt he shouldn’t have, she would explain to him why it was not possible and he would say “It’s ok, I understand.” When he goes for parties, he always asks for permission before he can have soda or eat cake. Or other sweet things for that matter. He has some allergies hence the reason his mom has to monitor such.
I have tried enforcing discipline in my three year old daughter. I have implemented the exact tactics used by Wamz on her son, but boy isn’t it a struggle. She tries to behave herself, but half the time she drives me crazy! She tests my patience, and plays mind games with me. Which means she totally understands right from wrong, but choses to be a rascal more often than not.
My analysis of the two scenarios boils down to one thing. Concerted effort in disciplining one’s child. See Wamz has been a single mother all along. Her word is final and Brian takes it with all the seriousness it deserves. Because he doesn’t know otherwise. There is no one to water down any efforts that the mom puts in place to ensure that he is well behaved. In my case, my daughter can get away with murder, as long as the dad is the judge. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Sometimes I get mad and tell her that the world doesn’t revolve around her, but I know the dad probably says in his heart “mine does”.
Dear dads our there. We know you love your kids to death. So do we, but we do not want to raise brats. So let’s discipline them together. Let’s punish them when they go wrong, and never forget to complement them when they do good. Let’s have one voice when it comes to disciplining our children.
Sincerely, all mothers out there.
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Photo credit: Thanabster