Mommy Musings- I refuse to keep my child at home this holiday.
Has your child ever uttered a word or spewed out a stream of consonants that made you want to entirely dissociate yourself from them? Especially in a public place. Like the supermarket.
Picture this. You are traipsing along one of the rows at Nakumatt Junction, the first one actually, right after grabbing yourself the big trolley and your toddler, the miniature one. You move past the LEGO sets and other toys conveniently placed at the beginning of the alley, and she doesn’t make a fuss. So you breathe a sigh of relief.
You advance further and a few steps ahead, your usual supplies start to surface. You stretch your hand for the 500g Blueband margarine tub that never lasts past week three because your luhya maids have to have tea with “blueband sandwich” every two hours. And you are ok with it. Because what kind of person would you be if you denied life’s pleasures to the very people you entrust your children to?
Of course you then pick bread, lots of it. Ennsvalley Rye bread for yourself, because you feel nothing for bread, but for those rushed mornings where you can have nothing but gluten, Rye bread it will be. Then you grab those short top-loading hotdog rolls for your hubby and toddler’s 10 O’clock snacks. And finally, you reach for the family bread. You know the wide and long one with 40 slices or so that only lasts a day in your house? I don’t know why they call it family bread when it only feeds two people in one day!
Anyway, all this time, your toddler is just scampering along waiting to get to her zone. Her trolley is basically for her snacks. And lately, supermarkets know that toddlers enjoy shopping for themselves. So they conveniently place their favorite items within their reach. You can’t even lie to them that the store has run out of Ribena, or Kinder Joy- a parent’s worst nightmare. So she picks her snacks-corn puffs, those cartoon themed crisps and six packets of Ribena. You wonder if she also earns a salary.
Within 15 minutes you are done with your shopping, grateful that it has been entirely uneventful. Because with toddlers, there’s always the possibility of an otherwise blissful moment deteriorating faster than Kenyan politics. Like when they spot this minion they’ve been seeing on TV and they ask you to buy it. You actually consider it, except that it goes for Ksh 3,500! So you adamantly object, and they go feral on you. Luckily, today is not one of those days.
Just as you start heading towards the till, she reminds you that you did not buy her grapes. Since its payday and you are feeling extra generous, you haul your trolleys towards the refrigerated section and pick those overpriced grapes that go for 600bob a pack, and settle them in her trolley. They are hers after all.
And then this happens.
You notice her staring lovingly at something in the fruits section which is just about three meters ahead. She leaves her trolley unattended in the middle of the aisle and runs towards the fruits, as if she just got this irresistible urge to consume something. Like a druggy. All this time you are motionless, waiting to see whatever it is that has captivated her.
From across, she calls out.
“Mama, can we also please buy afakandos?”
Dread comes trundling up your gut, like an inexorable volcano. Suddenly, you start to notice other shoppers. A tall dark guy with an athletic body, biceps bulging out of his white muscle shirt, is standing right next to you, picking a packet of grapes as well. He looks at your daughter, then at you and a chuckle escapes his mouth.
“She’s adorable” He says.
But you ignore him. Because there’s nothing adorable about a rather expressive four-year-old girl who articulates her thoughts and opinions with ease, but cannot pronounce the word avocado.
“Please mama? Can I pick the afakando?” She insists, this time taking her voice a notch higher! So you quickly respond.
“For the last time, it’s a-va-ca-do and not afakando. And yes we can pick one, if there’s a ripe one”
“But Jacky says afakando?”
Lately, anything her nanny Jacky says is gospel truth. Except if her teachers say otherwise. So here’s the pecking order. Teachers, the nanny, Daddy and finally you. Thus, to get her to believe anything you say, you ask the teacher to intervene.
“Is Jackie your teacher?” You retort, bearing a wry expression on your face.
“No she’s not. Jackie is my aunty”. She grouses, walking towards her abandoned trolley and placing in it this firm, blemish free avocado that’s just about ripe. At least she knows how to choose them.
“Please ask Miss Judy tomorrow what that thing you are holding is called and let’s settle this once and for all.”
You quickly push your trolley towards the till and urge her along. For the remainder of your time in the supermarket, you try to avoid any conversation with her because you never know what else she might mispronounce. But she is such a talker, filled with interminable questions. At this point, you can only cross your fingers.
My friend recently told me about how last Saturday afternoon, she was having a tea party with two of her new friends from her new office. She makes friends very easily that one. She also loves to have guests over, either for tea or a mean roast. On this day, I am sure she was out to impress. So she brought out her sparkling china. As they were chatting away, sticking out their little fingers every time they picked the delicate teacups and sipped from them, her five-year-old son who had been riding his bike outside, burst into the living room.
He respectfully greeted the guests, perched himself on the couch next to the mom and placed his feet on the coffee table. The mum, a slender, diminutive light-skinned lady in her early 30s was deeply astounded. Her face was ashen as she struggled to comprehend what had just happened. Her guests tried to play it cool, one of them issuing a comforting “boys will always be boys” statement. The mum asked him to get his feet off the table adding that it was unbecoming and he calmly responded that Scolastica the nanny does the same.
As I write this, I wonder what activities you have set out for your kids to engage in now that some of them will be home for a cool two months! I know holidays are meant to be a break from the draining routine that school is and the exhaustion that kids go through as they soak in new concepts every day. All the same, a whole day of watching TV and having stodgy conversations with the helps can be very counterproductive, watering down all the values and brainpower that the teachers have struggled to create in them. Look out for fun activities that your child will enjoy engaging in, and at the same, will aid in advancing their intellect.
If you have been following Xena’s journey from last year, you definitely understand her love for lego and the outdoors. This holiday, I decided to enroll her in a Young Engineers holiday camp. This new program uses flexible pieces to assemble 3D models that enable them to grasp scientific concepts. It also helps them to appreciate the animal kingdom and their current world. I sat through one of the classes this past Wednesday afternoon and it was entirely exhilarating.
In that class that consisted of 8 students and two instructors, the kids constructed two different types of spiders, but not before their understanding of spiders was put to test.
“How many legs does a spider have?” Leroy, a petite but highly vibrant instructor spotting a white T-shirt with a Young Engineers logo, directs the question at the eager class.
From the corner of the room where I stand, I shoot Xena a look. She is staring at Leroy with this curious look on her face. She seems clueless and at the same time keen to know the answer. Three hands sprout from the back of the class. They all get it right. Eight legs. Impressive.
“Can someone name a type of spider?”
“Tarantulas.” Shouts a peppy boy seated on the extreme left. He gives Leroy this imperious look that speaks of achievement, as if daring him to dispute his answer.
I quickly google “tarantulas” and instantly learn that it is indeed a type of spider, the largest actually. Does not spin webs. Hides in burrows during the day. Quite indolent, right? I know a few people like that!
I am completely in awe. Turns out that this boy is only five years old.
“Last question before we can construct our spiders. What do spiders eat?”
‘Bread.” Responds a cheerful little boy in a cobalt blue Ben-10 T-shirt and black jeans. He looks 4 or 5 years old.
I burst out aloud, almost dropping my phone in hysteria. The rest of the class is also in stitches. That kid must have a luhya nanny.
No one seems to know what spiders eat so Leroy aptly informs us that they feed on flies.
On cue, they one by one match forward and pick their building kits. Excitedly, as if unwrapping a birthday present, they flip open the lids and get down to constructing the spiders, guided by the diagrams on their flash cards. This is the part they have all been waiting for.
Xena has this no-nonsense look as she quietly puts together the various pieces, completely disregarding the instructions on the flash cards. She appears to have blocked out the rest of the world and sequestered herself in this enticing new world of robotics. At this point, I am so happy I came across the Young Engineers program and I cannot wait to see the transformation that Xena will undergo.
Last week, she said to her soccer loving uncle as he fumbled with the remote trying to get one of the Supersport channels to come on.
“Ango Eldy, there is no SIKINO.” (uncle Eldy, there is no signal)
That’s when the decision to enroll her in Young Engineers was made!
The one-week long holiday program targets kids aged between 3 and 12 years. Sessions will take place every week (Monday-Friday) from next Monday the 7th to 10th December, running from 9am-12pm. Kids will be given two snacks, in the morning and right before pick up. You can reach them on the below links:
Website: Young Engineers Kenya
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Young-Engineers-Kenya
Phone: +254722-338954/ +25470-1415987
Located at Makindi Road, off Riara Road, Opposite Makini School.