By Mr. Anon – Aspiring Father
The first place/ flat I settled had this couple who used to fight almost on a daily basis; I would wake up some minutes to midnight to screams punctuated by breaking plates. I remember wondering why they had to bring plates into the whole scuffle……..I must confess, I do love my plates. I also remember thinking about Karen and Stephen that’s the two little kids next door. I wondered what their school days were like, especially the girl; was she able to concentrate? Did it affect her interactions with other kids? Then it occurred to me, the kids probably slept through it all; that thought warms my heart even today.
Got me thinking about conflicts in our households and how that affects the children. There is nothing like perfect homes, and each and every one of us had some sort ‘hiccup’ as far as our being brought up is concerned. Maybe alcoholism, 2nd family, absentee parents, poverty…you name it. All this defines us in some way and only the exceptional among us are able to get out of the shackles of our upbringing, well sadly not all of us are exceptional.
On some of my leadership workshops, I usually point out that conflicts are an intricate part of any entity with some sort of defined or undefined relationships. Meaning, so long as there are human beings interacting there are bound to be conflicts, therefore the trick is to mitigate conflict as opposed to eliminating them.
Back to our homes, how much of these conflicts do we expose our children to?
In my opinion, children should understand early on that people do disagree, that when that happens someone is bound to ‘feel bad’ and the one on the wrong should make amends to right the ‘wrong’. It is okay to see daddy or mummy a bit off; it is even more paramount for the children to see the making up part of these conflicts. One thing our parents got wrong as far as raising our generation was the level of excellence were to be expected of us….because they were the number ones’ in their schools, they never disrespected their parents, they always went to church, and all the other kinds of angelic manenos.
I think we should do it differently, let’s show them the challenges that are inherent to being human. Lets also teach them how to overcome these challenges without seeking perfection out these beautiful little things. After all, aren’t they perfections? May be in the process, we might learn a thing or two about ourselves.
By Mr. Anon – Aspiring Father
Me and KM have this beef going regarding my timely submission of blog posts. No worries, it’s nothing a cup of porridge can’t cure on these cold days, till then it’s for tip toeing around her. On the real though, it’s been quite a challenge balancing between work and finding a secluded spot where you can pen a meaningful word or two. The secluded spots are very rare as I came to realise, but the balancing act is coming about, bit by bit.
Today’s topic is on building on your kids interests or guiding them for that matter (I think). Am told by my pro bono shrink that I tend to be controlling, which is kinda true, so I know I might have a challenge when it comes to fostering kids interests. On my commute sometime back, I happened to be caught up by traffic in those chochoros in the suburbs. In one of those cars was a kid, maybe five, holding an owl. I know I wasn’t dreaming because that thing just stared at me through the window with those big brown eyes. It wasn’t done with just staring at me, but it went ahead and rolled its head like ‘uta do’?
Let me put it out there that am a huge movie fun, I have watched all seven Harry Porter movies, TWICE. I also had plans of watching the whole set with my kid one day; those plans were squashed that morning. I honestly don’t know what my response will be if my son or daughter asks for an owl for his/her fifth birthday. I didn’t even know you could literally own an owl in this country!!
Am your typical educated guy, still go to church on Sundays but am still superstitious as hell about things like owls. They are bad omens, right guys? I mean, even the pope has got to be bonkers to keep one, right? As far as interests is concerned, an owl is out in my household, yes I said it. I went ahead and made a list of things that shall be out of my households (the Mrs. Hasn’t seen it).
Imaginary friends – Am not setting up a dinner plate for no empty seat; if I can’t see/talk to Timmy your imaginary friend, he is not allowed past the door (actually, make that the gate).
Pets are not allowed if they have more than four legs – I don’t want stories of Bob (that’s the pet tarantula) is missing from his cage.
Pets are not allowed if they can win a staring contest – this gets the owl covered, so its not about superstition. Can you imagine being stared down by a bird?
- The pet better clean up after itself – This checks out dogs and leaves cats; am a cat person. Aaaaaawww.
Am I going overboard with this? I have a list already, so I guess that’s a lil’ – bit overboard. But who knows, I might grow to like Timmy, might even let him stick around for the family portrait.
By Mr. Anon – Aspiring Father
So last week I missed a post, hope someone noticed, and KM chewed me a good one. Had genuine ‘top secret’ reasons for absconding my duties by the way, not that she believed anyway. Anyways, that got added to my ‘I owe you’ tab that she keeps and I dread to even think about it.
So my topic for this week, or last week, is on parenting for a responsible adulthood. I said that out loud a hundred times and it didn’t sound quite right so bear with me. My mom once said (I don’t recall the context) that the whole duty of a parent is to raise his/her children to be better than them; amplify their qualities and mitigate their weaknesses. Looking at the whole context of parenting even in the wild, it is the mum’s sole duty to raise the young ones to be better hunters, better grazers, better evaders et al.
On another note, as I was busy preparing for my day I happened to glance at the Tellie. It was one of those morning shows and the speaker, a Nigerian mum, was talking about how the modern parent is bringing up a gluttonous society because the modern kid is not taught early enough the difference between wants and needs. “You may want a new toy, but you don’t need one” – her words. That the modern parent is raising children who cannot survive without them; pose this situation against the sole purpose of parenthood mentioned earlier.
In my books, one of the best qualities of responsible adults is humility. I really admire humble characters, it is one of those traits that is common to most of all the historical greats and even modern success stories.
Most of the parents I have interacted with have beautiful visions for their children; as all parents should. But of all those who I spoke to, only a handful mentioned the kind of characters that they envision in their children’s adulthood. The rest talked about successful careers, businesses, families etc, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that….after all the society we live in place immense emphasis on these events as descriptions of successful individuals. What about characters? Do we look at the young ones and envision the kind of characters they could have in their future? What are we doing to reinforce good traits or mitigate against the weak ones?
On a leadership forum I attended earlier this week, in order to be effective leaders, the speaker talked about having personal visions, even cascading that further down to our families and even further to individual children. Where do we see our families our children in the next five to ten years? That gave me some food for thought………till next week.
By Sam Kitots
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”
I have one boy, my son. I haven’t been a dad for very long, I don’t write this for “already dads” you guys are probably gurus and will laugh as you see me talk a bit about the early stages of my not so long journey. I am proud of who I turned out to be and the same goes for my siblings. I don’t recall any of us giving our parents a headache on issues related to upbringing. I salute my folks for that.
One thing that I feared and still do sometimes about parenting is whether I will do a good job like my dad did. I heard my son crying the other night and I was up like a bolt. As an infant, he woke up before the sun and I went to attend to him. He was probably having a nightmare and I spent some time with him assuring him of my presence and he found it safe to fall asleep. As I sat there next to his cot humming a lullaby, it dawned on me that this is what creating moments is all about.
Creating moments is making time to be exclusively there for your family. I have purposely had to do this, take time away from my busy schedule and go to the extent of switching off my phone allowing only SMS’s to come through and I intentionally spend quality time with my son and my wife. I look back at my childhood and I recall one moment my dad specifically told me that he will never be too busy to come for any event that I need him to attend. My dad always created time to be there. He created moments. And when he couldn’t, he more than made up for it.
It was a chilly night when I came to this realisation and now my brain was wide awake and active. This made it difficult when I tried to serenade my body back to sleep.
It was good to know that creating moment with the little one and with the Mrs was all that I needed. There is the societal requirement for we men to be providers, out there.
If I got up to come to be with my son, if I can do anything to ensure he is safe and well catered for, if I can make his food and feed him, if I can appeal to my greatest ability to ensure he is ok, then how much will God care for me, his child. I realised that I have a major responsibility to be a good steward of the child and mother of the child that God has given me. I have the privilege of shaping a life and moulding the young one, and I won’t get it right if I don’t draw from the ultimate dad, God, and I must also look at my past, copy what was done that I liked, and change what I didn’t like.
By Mr. Anon – Aspiring Father
So the Kenyan Mom decided that it was time for Mr. Anon, Aspiring Father to take up a permanent corner on her blog and she went ahead to give yours truly a list of topics to research on; I decided to pick my own topics. For your information, am still debating on taking up the honor (playing hard to get much). Anyways, I decided to explore my own line of thought or curiosity and came up with today’s topic on raising kids for social success. Bear with me for a second; I will try my best to explain what I mean.
The question that landed me onto this topic is this: Do we as parents consciously undertake to empower our lit’u ones to engage in successful healthy relationships in their adult life?
This is where am coming from; am sure it is every parent’s wish to see his/her children in healthy relationships as opposed to the failed relationships that sometimes encompasses the reality we live in. Am not judging by the way. Going by the blogs that I perused as I went about my ‘research’, it is well and good to sit down on a Sunday afternoon and pen an emotive blog on what parents should teach their children; which let’s be honest, is a copy paste of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Am talking about the usual: respecting others, hard work, honesty and all those traits that will put our kids as the ‘popes running mate’ as the chance presents itself.
But one thing is missing dear parents, how do we go about it? Please don’t say by example. I think we are not in the generation that will teach by example. Also trying not to judge. I talked to a couple that we (Mrs. & I) met after church service on the young couple’s forum, their three year old kid has literally destroys every toy he has. It is in a boy’s nature to be curious and all, but I found it odd that the parents found it ok (and also amusing) for the kid to wreck havoc on the very thing they should treasure. Am I making sense? I know I was, in my head atleast.
Am not a parent yet (fingers crossed), but am on the opinion that kids should be shown respect and love from those elementary thing we tend to dismiss. If your toys mean a lot to you, and they should, you should take care of them, make efforts to fix them when they break or atleast cry for heavens sake! I was against pets for a while there (a story for next time, promise but what better way teach children about love and care if not through these attachments?
So how off the mark am I? Also do we make conscious steps to teach these qualities to our children? How do you as parents undertake this? Lets move away from blogging on traits that we should impact in our children to exactly what we need to do to impart these traits. And finally let’s compare notes on what is working and what isn’t.
…. and other lies mum tell.
By Bilha Maina
If you are looking for the humorous side of life, then this is a book that would be a must read. So motherhood is a joy and a blessing. It is an experience like no other, right from testing positive for a pregnancy test to discussing dowry for your all grown up loved one. It is serious business and every mum has a story to tell that is completely unique to another.
But all mums have one thing in common. There is the other side of mother hood that only another mum can relate to. Like a secret language, that you can only speak and understand once you are a mother. There are lows that come with mother hood, the moments that drive one crazy. Robin O’ Braynt relates these moments in her book, “Ketchup is a vegetable, and other lies mum tell.” This mother of four surely has a lot to say in her series of essays about the changes of her pregnancies, funny experiences in the labor room, and hilarious mother incidents. It’s a good break.
Mums, try this good read during your tea break and have a good laugh about life. For those who love wit and cynic humor this is a classic. With an open mind this open book mum will show you the bright side of life.
The other day, my son requested we take him for a friend’s birthday party. He insisted that the party started at 1pm. That sounded very odd. Most birthday parties normally start after 2pm. The d-day got here. To cut a long story short, we got to the party at 2pm and my son was not pissed off because he was late. On further enquiry, he told me that he knew the party was starting at 2pm but if he told us that the part was starting at 2pm, we would get there at 3pm. It is important to note here that the lateness, has nothing to do with me, or traffic. Yes, you guessed right – the mother.
My son was born at a time when the world has slowed down. In my father’s school days, a teacher would stand at the school gate with a cane to warm up the behinds and hands of late comers. In my days, we would get beaten but it wasn’t as bad as my father’s days. Today, the worst that can happen is parent summoned to school the following day or a child is made to do a very light punishment like running a short distance.
In recent times, a majority of the people do not keep time and that sends a message to the younger generation that it is okay to be late. It is okay to go to church at 10am knowing very well the service started at 9am, and end result, in a few years to come we will have a whole generation that doesn’t keep time and that is why I have chosen to teach my son to keep time and by so doing, he will be able to use the 24 hours in his day wisely with the least possible time wasting.
Luckily, the universe is working with me on this. My son gets down to doing his homework immediately he gets home. Other children are normally outside playing, but he only joins them after he is done, and no, none of us forced it down on him. It was a decision he made. He realized if he didn’t do his homework first, he would have to do it after he is done playing which is most of the time when darkness has settled in and he is mostly tired. What this then does is he is not able to rest well, since his resting time will be used finishing up the assignment.
He has favorite TV programmes, he knows the consequence of catching it say 10 minutes later. He knows what time his dinner is ready. That way he works on a clock and will grow up appreciating why things should work out before or at the very latest on time.
Having great time management brings about a lot of other attributes which your little one will need as they grow up. They will be able to comfortably meet deadlines, plan adequately bring about consistency in what they do and they will have more time to do other things and use very little time doing tasks.
In future when they become boyfriends or parents, they will not bury themselves in work but they will have enough time to work and play. Remember, it is scientifically proven that children learn or develop an interest based on the actions of parent(s). If you don’t keep time, don’t expect him/her too. If you tell them you will be home in one hour let it be so, lest they think a 3 hour interval is also known as an hour.
Is it only me or life is unfair? I have a business idea for the creator. He should introduce a premium package where one is able to buy or rent more hours in his/her day over and above the normal 24 hours because with all the day to day hustles, 24 hours just doesn’t seem enough to do everything and if one is able to do everything they can’t do it all that well. I know you can relate.
When I was working and single, life was good. It was all about me. I could sleep for 8 hours, I could work for 8 hours and I could rest/do my things for 8 hours. Then I met her, she needed us to spend time and not just any ‘time’ she needed quality time so I had to rearrange my simple life which started to become somewhat complicated. I have had to compromise the time I have to rest/do other things or sleep. Kenyans like myself adjust, first few days it was tough but I eventually got used to it.
A few years later, my 24 hours was unevenly split between, myself, my work and her, and then it happened. I was to be a father, and what being a father means is not ‘another mouth to feed, clothe and shelter’. It is another being who is in need of not only your money but also and most importantly your time.
Given that a majority of the working class are in jobs which if they do not show up they can as well kiss the jobs goodbye, it is impossible to cut on the hours one spends working to create time to accommodate others. You are now left with time to rest/do your own things, time to sleep or time to be with her. They all have consequences and if I may add, your time will now be split to another 2 categories. Time for child(ren), Time for mother and child(ren).
If you choose to cut on the hours you rest/do other things you will become detached from the world, lose interest in your hobbies and your talents will begin to suffer since you will not have time to do or concentrate on them. You will also not have enough time to work on other things to complement your income in the hash economic time. If you choose to cut down on sleep you may become ill, leading to decline in productivity levels at places where it needs to be 100% eg work. If you chose to cut on the hours spent with ‘her’ I don’t know what to say but we all know that never ends well.
It is very important to spend time with the family both together and separately. Spending time alone with her will reignite the undying love you have for each other, spending ‘alone’ with the kid(s) will drive you closer to the kids and spending time with wife and kids together will warm up the hearts of everyone because you will be doing things together and it will be fun doing things together.
As a parent, in the morning, I will help wife prepare kids for school and we can have breakfast together. I can make a choice to drive my wife to work or use the same matatu and that way we will have some ‘us’ time. During work, I will call up every so often to check up on her and I will also eat lunch with her if our schedules allow. In the evening I will be home early to help the kid(s) with their assignment or do something together if they don’t have any assignment then have dinner. After dinner, when kids are asleep I will do what I love doing then retire to be with her.
When kids are growing up, parents are of the idea as they start walking, as they start becoming responsible, that their role is reduced. I beg to differ. It is when a child is growing up that he/she needs the parent most because he/she is prone to making choices and some bad choices one is not able to turn back and some if that connection and communication is not there will be noted to late to do anything about it.
Same applies to her, if you do not spend time with her, she will feel no different from a house girl, I hear nowadays they are called house managers. Her life will only be about cooking, children etc. This will make her not only age quickly, she will be stressed, easy to piss off and depending on her area of origin, she just might batter you.>
I don’t have all the answers, but I try where I can. I wonder, how do you dads out there balance work and family? I’d love to hear how you do it.
Next Time: Teaching Time Management To My Son
Next Time: Teaching Time Management To My Son
A Tribute to Moms By Bilha Maina
They say a mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go. Mothers are our back bones. They are the ground upon which we walk on. Only when we are in their shoes, do we come to understand them.
The Kenyan mom authenticity cannot be counterfeited. If your mom beat you to a pulp when you were a kid and ordered you not to cry, not even a single tear, then she was a Kenyan mom. When you lost money or something equivalent and you went to report to her, tail between your legs, she would give you some more and say, “take this, go and loose is as well, ok?” You would know that that was no encouragement, but a threat. Our moms knew that sarcasm was an essential ingredient to discipline. If you broke something, Kenyan mom would say, “please break everything, break it all.” It sounds worse in one’s mother tongue.
Our Kenyan moms knew what we were up to. They could smell guilt and naughtiness from miles away. You come home in the evening from kina Mary and the first question she’ll ask you is, ‘ did you eat at someone else’s place?’ That right there was a trick question, because she could tell you had eaten already, at a stranger’s home. If you denied the accusation, that’s two offences. The lying and the eating at the neighbours. The belt was always within reach and mom was never shy to use it.
Our moms could and still can tell when we are lying, if we are hiding something, if we went to play without our sweaters on in the evening, if we were playing with rascals we had been forbidden from associating with… the list is endless. She could tell that you hadn’t done the housework assigned to you, that you had touched something she told you not to touch while she was away. It’s like they have internal cameras. You start crying when they are beating you and she will say, “Why are you crying and I haven’t even started beating you yet.” Again, the sarcasm of a Kenyan mother is sterling.
Do you remember the threats that were full of impossibility, mom would send you to buy eggs and tell you, “if you come back here with broken eggs, don’t come back here.”
“If I come back from the toilet and find these vegetables on our plate or in the dustbin, you will know where you are going to sleep.”
“I am going to hang someone.”
“Someone is asking for some injuries, they seem to miss them.” It sounds immensely worse in vernacular.
Do we remember all wearing matching outfits, from the first born to the last born, heading to church in family uniform? Only Kenyan moms buy you a shoe size bigger than your foot because you are still growing. They force pumpkin and spinach down your throat. (I’m so traumatized by that I still don’t eat pumpkin.) Our moms will wake us up early in the morning, at 7 a.m. on a holiday to ask you if you if you are planning to sleep all day. If you scored 90% in a G.H.C exam, your mother will ask you where the other 10 % is. Only our Kenyan moms would ask you a rhetorical question and expect an answer. Like,
“ Tell me, do you think these dishes will wash themselves?”
“You sleep all day, did you turn into a cat?”
“You are always at Jenny’s place, why don’t you go back and ask her mother to look after you too?”
Then they wait for you to give a reply, even though it is very clear that there really is no answer. To answer back is to be rude, you both know it.
Yet even when our mothers gave us all this grief, we still loved them so. I remember how I could tell my mom was around when I was a child from her smell. moms always smell so good; they smell of comfort and security. As long as they are there, then all is well. Our mothers always glowed when we were kids. It’s like they had a halo. We cried when our mothers went to work or we had to go to nursery school. Do you remember being lied to that your mom has gone to the shops to buy you candy?
We lit up every time it was dusking and we know any minute now, mom will walk through that door, and tranquillity will come with her. We looked forward to the lollipops she’d bring or chocolate, because not only was it a yummy snack, it was from mommy; it was wrapped with love. We were attached to our mothers, no matter how totalitarian their reign would seem and deep down we knew when we grew up, we wanted to be like them. We wanted to be bold, strong and full of character.
Real Kenyan mothers put the character of their children before their immediate feelings. Their foresight is outstanding and unwavering. So now I understand, why we used to be taken out of the church hall to be given a few slaps when we were being brats, why throwing a tantrum in a supermarket over Big G was your death sentence and coming back home in the evening without your labelled school sweater was just asking for it.
It is because of these women that Kenya is where it is today. Let’s never forget it.
I am of the opinion the world would be a much better place if we worked without dates. I know there would be confusion and a lot of disorganization but we would get used to it eventually. I personally live by a diary. I write down every single thing that needs to be attended to on there. Reason? A goldfish has better memory. If I cannot remember to do what needs to be done tomorrow, how on earth would I remember a random date every year? When I grew up, my dad never wished me happy birthday not even once. That small oversight really made me angry. It is like he did not care or make any effort towards it, or so I thought. Then I grew up and realized, it was not his wish.
Life happens so fast. Without proper planning one will be on toes every time. They will even forget their own birthday, so how are they supposed to remember other dates? I remember when I was young; my dad drove home one evening. He opened the door, looked at us, went back outside and drove off. No one could understand why he did that, maybe he forgot something. He later came back with flowers, and that is when everything added up. It was Valentines Day. He had forgotten about it and even when the whole city wore red outfits that day, it just didn’t hit him.
I pray, I will not be among the rising number of statistics. You know the ones where a man got home, couldn’t help notice the mood is different, the food smells lovely, he smiles, seats and waits, thanking God, the Mrs. had a good day and asking for many more then reality hits him, a little late in the day that their anniversary.
Women, we men, genuinely forget at times and it is nothing to do with not caring or dates not being important but everything to do with the world moving so fast and us getting lost in it, and when you get a minute to catch your breath, other things catch up with you and it may be too late to do anything. It is wrong to forget. It is not like you do not have equally important things to attend to but it happens. It is said men cannot multi-task to save their lives. That happens in all elements if you ask me. You can’t work, attend to your stresses and remember a date. It is even worst when the date keeps moving. This year our anniversary was say on a weekend, next year on a weekday. It become impossible to set the system with out a reminder written down or set. The truth of the matter is, If your man remembers dates, he has them set or written down. If he genuinely knows, he is ‘special’ and it is such men who make our stay here a living hell. LOL
That said, men, you should make an effort and remember dates. It is the small things that matter. Remembering dates, making them together etc. I am a man, I know how hard it may be but you can surprise yourself with the outcome if your try, put a little effort in it. It will not only make your relationship a ‘violence free’ one but it will also make you a better person in terms of knowing what to do and when to do it.
Next Time: Balancing Family And Work
Grab A Book
Latest Soul Living Podcast
2013 Spark* Changemaker
Kenya Blog Awards 2013 Nominee
Subscribe To The Kenyan Mom
Bake Membership Badge
- Being Birth Partner
- If Mother Was On Twitter
- Junior Goes Camping
- Learning A Foreign Local Language
- Setting Dogs on KPLC
Kenyan Mom On Twitter
Like Us On Facebook
Handy Cleaning Tips
Coffee Stains In Mugs
I love my coffee mugs. I like them stain free. To remove that nasty brown ring inside, I use Wet a cloth. Put some baking soda and then rub the insidewith it. If the marks are stubborn, soaking overnight in hot water and baking soda helps.