When your child’s comments numb you
The most profound thing I have learnt about extroverted toddlers -from raising a highly opinionated five-year old girl- is that one can never anticipate what comes out of their mouths whenever they decide to speak. The mister and I are always jittery when boss lady (read Xena) engages anyone, especially someone we are not too familiar with. There is always a high possibility that she’ll utter a statement which will leave serious doubts on our parenting adroitness.
Two weekends ago on a Saturday morning at around 9:30am, I walked dragged my bushed self into the house from an early 12km morning run. Xena and her younger sister Xia were at the dining table having their breakfast amidst endless chatter. Xia’s bowl was empty while Xena’s half eaten oatmeal sat desolately on the table. They turned their attention to me as I shut the door behind me. As if on cue, they took turns to scream my name while scampering towards the me, their diminutive frames hugging my feet with what felt like the force of a tornado. I held the couch for support, then proceeded to seat on its arm.
“Mama, your legs look like chicken!” Xena chuckled as she poked my calves with her index finger.
I was not prepared to have a five-year old eviscerate my confidence, so I ignored her. She kept poking my calves while giggling which got me curious about her analogy.
“How does a chicken look like, Xena?” I asked.
Her sister who had briefly disappeared, came back holding a banana. She extended it towards me incessantly crying out “anana” which meant she needed me to peel it for her. I obliged.
“You see, this part is fat (pointing at the calve) and then the rest is thin. Just like a chicken’s leg.” She said.
“I guess I can’t argue with that, Xena.”
She then turned her gaze towards my face and after studying me for a while, she exclaimed like she was Einstein seating under an apple tree.
“Why happened to your eyebrows mama?” She asked.
“You did not just go there, Xena.” I said to her in disbelief.
“Where?” She inquired while looking around. “I am just standing here. What’s wrong with you mama?”
She then stretched her index finger and proceeded to trace it along my eyebrow line.
“See, your eyebrows are missing.”
I realised that her questions and statements were completely innocent and born out of a curious five-year old mind. It would have been juvenile of me to be vexed or woeful over her utterances so I chose to walk away.
“Let me go take a shower.” I groaned as I got off the couch and dragged my beat body with its eyebrowless face and chicken legs across the living room.
“Yes, that’s a good idea because you are “smelling sweaty”.” She said.
At this point, I think I had had enough.
“Calm down, mama.” She said to me as she trudged towards the Kitchen to look for her sister who was probably in the pantry having a banana feast.
“You know you are going to kill my self-esteem one of this days.” I said.
“What is that?” She asked
“My confidence.” I said.
“Ati confidence?” She grimaced. “Heeee, sounds like crocodile.”
As I lumbered up the staircase, her small voice trailed behind me from the kitchen.
“By the way Mama you may want to use my shower because the fundi is upstairs fixing yours.”
I loved how she was in touch with what was happening in her home. I was even more impressed with how she believed she could give me permission to use her bathroom, as if she unfailingly contributed towards her portion of the house rent on a monthly basis.
Mercy my domestic manager emerged from my bedroom with Evans the plumber right behind him. We exchanged pleasantries and he explained the scope of work, after which I asked Mercy to serve him breakfast to fill his time (and his tummy) as he waited for me to assess the job.
Just as I was settling into my room, I overheard Xena talking with Evans so I walked to the door and peeped down the staircase to get a good shot at the conversation. Evans was seated at the dining table while Xena was standing next to him.
“Evans, are you having breakfast in our home?” She asked.
“Yes.” He said.
“Why are you having breakfast in our home? Kwani you don’t have breakfast in your house?”
I immediately summoned her into my room, but not before saying a quick prayer seeking divine intervention and guidance on handling the matter at hand!
P.S. I am curious to know some of the unsettling things your kids have said to you or to other people and how you dealt with the situation.