I must say since my three loves were young, I have always been accused of smothering them with love. In my opinion, I just decided on this style of parenting. I loved my three and gave them the best I could. It really was not much, what with my constant joblessness in between job, separation from baby daddies, and other hardships courtesy lack of keen and proper guidance.
Still I prejudge myself as having done well and come out almost tops. If nothing else, my undying, uncompromised and non stop love, understanding, guidance and care and joy with and to my three loves, has shaped them well. My constant self sacrifice for their comfort and that of relatives close and distant has instilled in them a desire to have empathy, be God fearing and to the best of their ability, aspire to make the world a safer better when they can. Towards this, they have embraced -not always to my liking- total non-discriminatory virtues. They consider all people equal, and thus make friends bila ubaguzi (without allowing scruples of any kind to influence them).
Like I said, not always to my liking. Having and living with teenagers has been an eye opener to me. Now I understand how loving and merciful mothers can be, and why one’s mother is deemed as next in importance to one’s God. Teenagers are an extreme tester of nerves. Was I ever one? It is all very well to claim “in our days….blah blah fishcake…” This is not then. It becomes so tough, ever so tough, to be loving, caring or even understanding with this breed we are raising. Times have changed and so have their needs, likes and wants. We should have parenting tips given as refresher courses every other decade, to bring us up to date with what’s “hip” for teens. Just so we know.
So…I have gone through my mad hours with Miss D and Sonny. On the receiving end, have been their maternal aunts and uncles. The closer and more sympathetic they have been to these two’s woes, the harsher my wars with them have been. I am a bull in rage when it has come to discipline issues with these two. I now understand only so well, how rages of anger can drive parents to remove or input disastrous clauses in their will, cutting off or reducing benefits of their children. Now while I write this in my happy mood, I can barely believe what fits of anger I have had because of this duo.
Early last year, in unison, they went mad. Yep, mad. I could not say or do anything that they did not oppose. I tried cajoling, discussion, arbitration from relatives and even tears-to no avail. Lastly in desperation, and raging anger, I resorted to warfare. It is so easy to lose children in Nairobi. Is it the same in all towns? I should think so. The negative influences are all the same.
For starters, I stopped giving the troublesome twosome any money. Down to not even sending them on any errand with any cash exceeding 100Kshs. That done, if I issued instruction or order for a chore which by my return in the evening had not been done, that child would get nil by mouth for a week from me. Fellow parents, try this. Did you know that it is virtually impossible for teens to lie to an angry mother? Again, part of the reason why giving love to you children is so important. When you suddenly shut down avenues of affection, they really get hurt and afraid. They are still young children. They need constant love and attention from parents and/or guardians to boost their sense of belonging, security and esteem. Dont ask me about fathers. Daughters have their way with them. Add “usually drunk when asked for money” and voila! “Watachota” (they end up dishing it out)
I then went ahead to do no socializing in the house with the two. I would get home, shower, and relax in the bedroom with my baby. Surprise, surprise, it rarely worked. Then I took to shouting. I can yell. Ask any mother of teens about yelling. I mean decibels. Shock on me, sometimes they yelled right back at me. It was war. But again, I have a general principal in life I do not ever enter into a fight I cannot win. I would win this war, any which way.
This last bit would come with one or two swear words and some expletives, directed at yours truly two. At one point, they would straight out run off to “understanding” relatives. I was not relenting. I made a vow to myself a long time ago while all and sundry were yet toddlers. That I would do all in my power as long as they were in my care, to bring them up as God fearing, self respecting and good citizens. Hasn’t been easy and I know it aunt over yet, But I will try my darnedest best yet.
Eventually, like a bad tide or wave, all the craze disappeared. You know, I was like…”what the…?” I guess the worst is yet to come. College and working life have their own new and different experiences and challenges. I mean for we parents not the child. I will yet see how to handle that. Miss D now in college does so much so far. I am limited in my control, and yet I must constantly stamp my foot down. Family time is family time. It’s hard. The lure of freedom, friends and fun is stronger than that of mother’s wish to talk about good old good behavior and hard work.
Again, all the good I have sowed in them over their childhood years, I have faith, will in the end overcome all and any negative influences they will come across. I must remain hopeful, and keep that fighting spirit simmering. Just in case. Now, all is well and we are back to doing any good we can while moving on. You never know when it might come in handy.
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Emerald Sua is a Christian single mother who prides herself as a voluntary organizational guru for lives, systems, situations and homes.