There are some advantages in having a smart kid. One is that in some senses, I worry about her less. I know she’s made of good stuff and that she will thrive in this crazy world. The other is that it’s so fun watching her put some idiotic overzealous adult in their place.
But it has it’s downsides too. Like when she makes what I perceive to be a rude comment about the smelly neighbour who never takes a shower, and when I ask her not to, she looks at me with sincere innocence and asks ‘Why?’
See, in my smart child’s world, things have to make sense. As long as she is telling the truth, she sees no reason why she should shut up. After all, if the man would just take a shower, she wouldn’t have to crinkle up her nose when he walks by. In her mind, it makes more sense for him to take a bath than it does for her to ‘respectfully’ pretend that he doesn’t smell.
Watching her bewildered response to my explanation, I thought about what would have happened twenty years ago if I had crinkled my nose at any adult. I would have been spanked senseless by said adult. Then I would have been dragged home by the ear, and reported to my mother, who would also have spanked, before probably reporting me to my dad for further straightening.
And if I had dared to ask why, innocently or otherwise, I would have heard ‘because I said so’ accompanied with <<The Look>> and possibly been spanked for talking back.
Stuff like that sounds like ‘child abuse’ and in the western world, and a kid like that would grab a Nokia, lock himself in a room, hide under a bed and dial an 0-800 number.
And that’s why us modern parents get bashed.
In my mind, the triple thrashing for a reflex reaction would be unfair, and so while I wouldn’t call 0-800, I wouldn’t put my daughter in the same situation. I prefer to calmly explain to her that people don’t like it when you point out their faults … a lesson her mummy is still slowly learning.
My approach, unfortunatley, is seen by some as spoiling.
I sometimes tell K7 how feisty my princess is, and he says it’s because I treat her as an equal. I respond with a bewildered [blank?] stare. How else would I treat her? She’s my little girl, and my best friend. Well, one of my best friends anyway.
Some feel a more … traditional approach would work better, and make her less … feisty. You know, like a few weeks in boarding to teach her that it’s not cool to talk back to adults.
In all fairness, I know a lot of kids who spent prima in boarding school, and I suppose they turned out just fine. I was blessed enough not to board till high school, and looking at me, well, some people might see me as the perfect advert for boarding at a younger age!
Me, I am having trouble with the idea of sending my baby away – even in her teenage!
But while I am sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by her sass, I also admire it. She knows what she wants in life, and I know she’ll get it. My role as her mum isn’t to stifle her spirit, it’s to teach her to control it before it controls her.
Yeah, still figuring out exactly how I should do that.
I think about the people who feel that the reason our teenage kids are striking, torching dorms and throwing their tiny underwear at Nonini is because modern parents lack the cold, distant, authoritarian style of upbringing from the past.
As Double-D would say, intriguing!
Question: the rioters at Kamukunji during the first Saba Saba, the women stripping at the Norfolk over Harry Thuku, the BA Stone Throwers of today, for that matter, the Mau Mau warriors; all were raised by different parents, in different cultures, at different times. All express themselves loudly and violently.
So why do we think the angstious kids of today arise from parents trying to do things a little … differently? Think about it – it’s not just upbringing that has changed. It’s culture. The music, the movies, the art, the wardrobe, it’s all different. Granted we have all gone retro and remakes [I know they say there’s nothing new under the sun, but we have clearly run out of ideas!] but even that isn’t essentially the same.
Sample this – Night of the Living Dead, a classic zombie movie from the sixties in which everybody dies. In the original 1968 version, the black guy gets shot, everybody dies. In the 90s version, it’s the same plot. But the pretty blonde runs away and survives [and even shoots someone!], the black guy becomes a zombie, while everybody [else] dies.
In the 2006 version, they threw in a sex scene in a barn [honeymooning couple, very politically correct for the full frontal nudity], a mad scientist mortician appears for good measure, the pretty blonde shoots a guy and the ending is cliffhanger with her being mobbed by zombies. In other words, everybody dies. Same story, different tellers, but in the end, everybody dies.
So, see, it’s not just the parents fault. Everything has changed.
I think it’s far more likely that our kids are rebelling younger because they know they can. I mean think about it. Stone throwers are caught, tortured, shot, yet next blackout, new stone throwers fill the street. Clearly, Pavlov is not ringing a bell with our college kids.
We … well, I … didn’t have any less rebellious thoughts. I once thought of dousing PCR in blueband and setting it alight, if I could just find a match. I’m still not sure exactly why I didn’t do it. I guess it just wasn’t in me, and that’s not necessarily because I was spanked a lot as a kid.
So, again, the real reason our kids rebel is because they can. They have a capacity to reason, they are aware that they do not always have to do what they are told, and all the boarding and thrashing and disciplining won’t change that. After all, the torchers were in boarding school.
All the more reason to turn that capacity against them and teach them to think sensibly rather than locking them up, throwing away the keys, then wondering why they end up even more angstious when they eventually burrow their way out with a toothpick.
I’m not sure what the difference is exactly, but I suppose it’s a combination of media exposure, evolution, and global warming. So the only way we can really stop them is by sending them to monasteries until they’re 23. Extremely isolated monasteries, with mud huts, no running water, and zero access to facebook or wi-fi.
But then again, the Tibetan monks were rioting too, so there goes that idea.
I suppose we could all sit around the fire and long for the good ole days when kids were kids and grown ups were grown ups and we all walked around in skins and threw away twins.
At least back then child-raising was a community affair, so rotten apples weren’t blamed on single mums, yuppie dads or overindulgent parenting; they were consistently disciplined and when in the end they ran away to form their own anarchist[?] clan, they were acknowledged as the bad eggs that they were and promptly forgotten.
I think our kids turn out they way do because, well, they do! Kids are raised in different homes – urban, rural, wealthy, single parent, polygamist. They turn out how they turn out just because. A lot of the torched schools were in shags, and I really don’t believe that all the ringleaders were Nairobians. Some maybe, but not all.
I don’t think there were lots of good kids caught up in mob mentality either. Granted, mobs make us stupid, but there has to be a little bit of stupid for the mob to latch on to in the first place.
And I don’t think a child raised by their grandparents because their parents were pursuing a career, ends up any less fcuked up than a tweeting facebooking city kid.
No one is the perfect parent, and nobody knows how good or bad a job they’re doing until their kids grow up. Every parent, at some point, in some way, will fcuk up their kids. We can only do our best, try to reduce the screw ups and get really really good at damage control. Beyond that, yote ni Mungu.
That said, please God, for the love of all that is holy, I will read the damn books [I’m quite curious with all the hating going round] but please, please don’t let my kid end up like this.
This afternoon, princess dropped the TV in the middle of some rowdy game that I have repeatedly asked her not to play. She was sobbing hysterically and her friends were yelling ‘it wasn’t me’ coz apparently, I’m scary.
I checked to see if princess was hurt, shooed her and her pals outside, and left it at that. There was no power so I couldn’t assess the damage to the TV until the power came back on.
I kept thinking how if it had been me, I’d have been whipped within an inch of my life, and then some! But I figured a TV is just wire and glass, it can be replaced. And if the TV was busted, the subsequent two weeks without Rubi [or whatever soap is in right now] would be punishment enough. I don’t think I’m harming my daughter by teaching her not to overvalue ‘stuff’.
That said, I’m sure glad the TV’s still working. Now to find some popcorn and go watch Wolverine…