I am laughing. I usually do when I bring these words to mind or hear someone uttering them. Life is so funny and so regular. Constantly you hear proud parents and guardians hard at it, vowing that their charges would “never ever “be caught doing this or that. Yet, saying this is akin to tempting fate. Just when you were sure they would “never ever”…they go and do a ridiculous, annoying and shocking thing. Sometimes worse than what you had vowed that they would never.
Take love for instance. I used to swear by my love of chicken, that I would “never ever” marry a certain type of man from a certain part of the country. I was young and had that confidence to yap about never ever doing this and that. Later I had the kids, and I declared that I would bring them up under certain conditions only. Either that or nothing. Hahaha…little did I know just how unpredictable life could get.
I did cater for my children in many ways that I had planned for, but sometimes, I just realized I was headed the wrong way at the wrong times, and changed course and reason. I realized that it is not for nothing that we are asked to touch wood and hope. Life can literally stop you in your tracks until you perform an act you’d sworn never to do. Then normalcy resumes and you understand why we are warned never to say “never”.
At my age, I have gotten to a point where I never say I wouldn’t ever, ever do this or that. I have discovered that we just do not know when we might be caught up in circumstance that demand we behave in a manner we never considered as an option.
I now live not just my life, but also oversee the lives of others. I cannot wholly control their lives, but to a great extend I do. As children grow older, they create their own personalities which may differ from ours. It is wrong, for us guardians and parents to swear by them. We can only guide them away from what we think as not right, and then leave them to make independent decisions. They have to choose how to behave and react to situations, on their own.
My older two are a tad more difficult to swear by. Just when I thought they are incapable of doing something like so and so’s children, they would go and surprise me to high heaven. Nevertheless, I have how to take all surprises in stride. They have to do so much to discover their true self, and ultimately it will involve surprising me and others along the way.
While we were yet young girls, my grandmother chastened us against being discriminative and overly critical of other people’s children when they misbehaved. In vernacular we were asked “not to point fingers at the neighbor’s children”. She told us that when you are older, nature will reward you the measure by which you served others in your youth. It was only later when we too had had children that we understood about not pointing fingers. Children will always be children and one can only hope they turn out as well as guided. A child will rebel and go the wrong way, and all that through no fault of the parent or guardian.
I so empathize with people who have grown children who are nothing but trouble! Majority of these kind of social delinquents, do not just change behavior overnight. We can sense a person’s negative tendencies from a younger age. The only thing is that sometimes one is in an environment where the people know their capabilities to do evil or destruction, but before anything can be done to stem this potential, that person moves away. Once this person is an adult, it becomes so much harder to instill discipline in them.
I watch Sonny and Miss D exploit the world and I am amazed at their levels of energy and ability to take risk without a second thought. If ever I was young, I must have suppressed a lot of energy compared to these two.
Nothing adds up to life education like exposure. Exposure and freedom of expression, puts in us common sense and logic. Limited general knowledge just shows a limited exposure and entails a limited life education. I only need look at where my peers with wider exposure to life are, compared to me, to appreciate this fact. Earlier stifling of energies and opportunities has made me that much slower in action and reaction. Take note that exposure comes from travel and allowance of free expression in and out of the house. It is also gotten through involvement with things and situations alien to your cultural norms.
Growing children need to be let free literally to “get loosed”. I envy residents of developed nations for their curriculums and lifestyles. They allow children space and opportunity to stretch their physical and other abilities to their limits. They do a lot to exhaust their energies. Meanwhile, their counterparts in third world countries, are idle and as a result, prone to abuse.
In the village scenarios at least, farm work chores keep teens and young adults occupied. In urban areas, there is hardly anything to do but sit and create ways of passing time. Here, few can afford pastimes like studies or paid for recreation facilities. Thus majority end up influenced into petty crime and other vices.
It is commendable that some organizations and individuals have contributed to activities for jobless youth and those that have dropped out of school due to financial constraints.
However, more needs to be done. In our selfishness, we often seek for solutions to keep just “my child” out of harms way and better develop him. It is common knowledge that ultimately his idle peers might be his downfall through influence. It comes back to the need for a loving caring society. Your child is as my child or as their child. If we all paused to think this way, we would get lasting solutions for the majority rather than the minority. If we all applied this, there would be less opportunity for anyone to be heard claiming that …”Mine would never, ever, ever…” anything.
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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.