LOVE

A PARENTLY

“After I got my own child that was when I realised how much God loves us.” She said. At the cliff of her lower eye lids was a thread of tears, too mild to be noticed. She deeply looks at her son playing on the carpeted floor as she talks. He is a one year old jumpy boy. No, one year and a few months. He has chubby cheeks like all babies do, slightly light and natural curly hair. He walks around the house and plays while uttering things the adult mind cannot comprehend. Neither can the boy account for his own words anyway. 
We were all kids some day and we said some things that would have aroused offences if it were not for our childishness. Like when my mum told me of how I used to say, “Unatafuta?” in baby language. It came out like, “Ashuta?” Now if you’re Kenyan, I don’t need to ask you if you know what ‘shuta’ means. Probably if you’re Tanzanian, because Tanzanians have neat Swahili and I bet whatever ‘shuta’ means in Kenya, the right Swahili word for it is ‘Kujamba.’ I now see why Tanzanians hate what Kenyans did to Swahili. And if you are American or English, you probably think ‘shuta’ is the wrong spelling for ‘shooter.’ No mjango, you don’t want to know what it means in Kenya. Just the way you should never call a lollipop, ‘lolo’ in Kenya. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
“I mean, of course you can never know how much God loves us by the way. In fact that makes sense because if this is how much I love my son, how much more do you think God loves us?” She said and paused in a manner to allow it to simmer inside. I begin to feel like I’d also like to have my own son or daughter (I prefer daughter first. God I know you’re hearing me.) so I’d be able to fully relate to what she is saying. I could measure the passion of motherhood from the tone of her voice. 
She continued, “I never got to know how much my parents loved me until I got a child of my own. Ever since then, I appreciated everything my parents have ever done for the sake of my well-being. I may have not have appreciated it then, but today when I look at my son’s eyes, everything they’ve ever done for me now makes sense.”
The little mjango is now squatting while trying to assemble some plastic blocks. He squats for long and I start to wonder whether he is tired already but I figure that maybe he is too young to know what being tired feels like. I dismiss that by saying that his body is still too energetic. Mjangos like us who think they have seen life are already having problems bending to wash clothes. I personally cannot squat for long without feeling tempted to get up and stretch. Just so you know, my definition of long is any duration past five minutes. Even when in the loo. If it takes more than five minutes… Okay I’ve just realised some mjangos likely to read this shouldn’t hear the rest of that. Or when waiting for a date. But this one is different. If she is late with just five minutes or less, then mjango, you might just be dating another man. No offence. 
“My life changed when I gave birth to my son.” 
“You got born again?” I said and giggled. 
Laughing, “No. Okay not that I am not born again…”
“You just had to clarify though.” 
She chuckles, “What I mean is my perspective about life changed. I don’t look at life and go about my days in the same way I used to. I am now more careful about the things I say, how much time I spend on somethings and so forth. I have also noticed that some things have changed effortlessly…”
“Like the things you watch?” I asked. 
She quickly turned and looked at me, “Yea how did you know that?”
“I know you’re wondering because I have never had a child… Yet!” I said with an evil smile on my face.
“Yah.”
“I just know things.” I said and turned to look at the boy who was now behind the couch walking, then bends to crawl below the charger cable running from the socket on the wall to my phone on the couch – stands up and walks away still shouting things we cannot fully appreciate as grownups.
I find her face still looking at me as if she is trying to distinguish whether she is smelling a rat or its relative. By the way do rats have relatives?
“Okay, so yea. I can’t watch violent stuff anymore. Even the slightest of it. I can’t explain why, but I know it has to do with the first instincts of a parent which is my son’s safety. Even when he has been cut by something small, I can feel that pain. Trust me the pain a parent feels is ten times what the child feels yet it’s the child that has been hurt. I know because I’ve felt it myself.” 
She had a look that said that her words are still ambiguous. She struggled to mince her words to ingestible pieces. Though she didn’t feel like she made me fully understand what she meant, I filled in the gaps by studying how she looked at her son whenever he made any move that would be deemed risky in the analysis of a parent. Like climbing on to the couch, not to sit but to jump like a bouncing castle. Who figured that kids like to jump by the way? Then came up with something that can help them do that; a bouncing castle. Let me not talk like I didn’t love bouncing castles in my early days. In fact if I got an opportunity today to hop onto one away from kids who would laugh at me for being a big baby, I would jump on it to compensate for the days I got to bouncing castles only to find them already fully occupied by other kids with no space to jump. It looked like a box with bombarding molecules. Though I know one day I will shamelessly jump in a bouncing castle. Well, because every little daughter would want to have fun with daddy right? Yea, someday.
“There is a question I have been longing to ask a real parent.” I said. 
“What do you mean a real parent? Are there fake ones?” She asked as she turned. She had realised that her son had gone out of her sight. He was hiding behind the long window curtains. Parent instincts, I said to myself.
“Okay I don’t mean that exactly. Though there are fake parents by the way,” I chuckled. 
“Yea true… Ayya Israel show up.” She called out. The little mjango appeared from among the caves of the curtain while laughing. I found that funny too, but the mother didn’t. 
“A real parent meaning someone who is actually a parent. The one I had an argument with about this question is not a parent, yet!” 
“Oh! And neither are you.” I would have asked her, really now? You didn’t have to rub it in you know!
“Eh, so what is the question?” 
“It’s about caning a child. The other person who is not a parent, yet, argued that she won’t cane her kids. I differed strongly though I’m still not a parent too, yet. So what’s your take on caning?”
Even before the question was complete, “Weeh! I cane him whenever it’s necessary to do so. Even the Bible says we should spank them.” 
“Even as young as he is?” I asked.
“Yes! Why not? In fact this is the best time to inflict discipline. There is no way you can teach what is good and what is bad to a child who doesn’t know how to talk or understand speech like this one without spanking them. You can’t sit him down to lecture him.”
I nod my head and smile. In my head I’m thinking about that other person who is not a parent, yet, and how I would win that argument that we never really settled.
“But how intense is the spanking?” I asked.
“Definitely not intense. You don’t beat like you want to kill. You just want to correct. That’s why there is a difference between spanking and beating. In parenting classes we were advised not to use our hands to inflict discipline or in other words, pain – to a child. We should use a stick or something of the sort. Our hands are supposed to convey love.”
“Wow. That’s new. I didn’t know that. It’s actually sweet. So do you use a stick?”
She laughs, the kind of laughter that is meant to hide some guilt. People never know that it never full hides the guilt. In fact it exposes it. “I used to use one. I don’t know where it went.”
Ama the boy hid it.” I said.
“No. I think I just misplaced it. I often just use my hands because discipline is spontaneous. I catch him in the middle of mischief and I react immediately in whichever way it comes. A pinch or a slap on the back. There is no time to start looking for something like a stick. You know African parents. Plus I cannot carry it around everywhere you know.” She smiles, this time genuinely.
I laugh as I try to picture how I’d do it to my own flesh and blood. Especially when he will be a teenager and perhaps I’ve heard a bad report about him from school or somewhere I don’t want to imagine. Okay the police. There I said it! Call it facing my fears. Note that I said ‘he’ this time. Dads have a soft spot for daughters no. So the same way I’d sweep my future son to the floor and lock his hands with my hands for a man to man combat is not the same way I feel I can do to my daughter. Even as early as now when I can only but have hope and pray about who their mother will be for starters. Okay wait, come to think of it, if I saw my daughter on a #ifikiewazazi post, how would that go for me? Another combat? Nah. Doesn’t feel right. But I’d be very disappointed. How about if it were my son? Yea. Combat works just fine. I can feel it.
 Just as I was enjoying that line of thought,
“I was in a parenting class with my husband and we were asked what would be the first thing we’d do if one day our ten year old son came from school and by chance we get to find a pistol in his bag.” She said. 
That was accompanied by a guilty silence. Guilty because it came right after I thought a one on one combat would be the best way to discipline my child. Sorry, son. I came to my senses for this particular scenario.
“I would call the boy and we just talk like men.” I said, very confident of my answer thinking I’d make the best parent on earth. 
“I answered in the same way you have. But I was surprised to hear that I was wrong.” She started chuckling all of a sudden, “My husband said that he would beat up and wrestle the boy, he cannot entertain such nonsense. Many parents in the class said the same. Especially the men.”
I was already in stitches because that is not how I knew her hubby. He looks like a gentle guy, wouldn’t collide with a mosquito. Now I was hearing that he is also the combat type, apparently. Welcome to the men’s club. Hehe.
“We were told the first thing you should do as a parent is to sit down and think about where you went wrong.” She said as she went to open the door.
That went directly to my face. So I guess I’m not going to make the best parent on earth, yet. Yea, that left me thinking in the same way you are now thinking of the kind of parent you are or will be in times to come.
“Yeei daddy!” The little mjango was more than happy to see his father. I remember when I used to welcome my dad like that too. Now I have inherited the beard that he has been shaving for as long as I can remember.
This is an anniversary dedication to my cousin Emmy and her amazing husband Zack. The first product of their union is already bouncing up and down this blog as you have seen – The bouncing baby boy Israel. You are good parents. They hosted me for dinner last Friday. That meat was so nice by the way. Was it pork? Oh Lord! I’ve just realised I don’t know what I was eating! 
Anyway, nobody saw this coming. Neither did I, apparently.

4 comments

Emily April 30, 2018 at 9:57 pm

Wooow wooow.. Am in stitches. A journalist indeed.. This is a talent from God proud of you bro. Thanks a lot. This will be in the archives for mjango Israel. Heheheh

Reply
TheMjangoSeries May 2, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Haha. I’m more than honoured Emmy. Ahsante?

Reply
Susan Nusu May 3, 2018 at 6:04 am

Bro,you are indeed talented…we thank God..a nice story for my role model??

Reply
TheMjangoSeries May 7, 2018 at 9:28 pm

? Oh how nice to know she is your role model. Thank you. ?

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