By George Ojema
The holidays are upon us.
Put more accurately, the children are upon us because the August holidays are truly reserved for school children and teenagers who have to endure nine months in the prisons they call school. For everyone else, life goes on as it always does. One will wake up at 4 O’clock, gaze half blind and murderously at the alarm that continues to ring in the darkness of another oppressing morning and resign themselves to what might be the routine of another day. There will be traffic, as always, on the commute to work and from work. There will be late nights and office meetings, as always. There will be over priced lunch in the restaurant down stairs, or cold matoke in your take away lunch bag, as always. Clients will come and you will rejoice at the end of your shift, as always. But remember, the children are upon us.
They will be in bed, sleeping till noon when you leave for work and they will stay up till late watching movies and series when you’ve passed out between the sheets at night. They will drink all the soda and juice in the house while you struggle with a banana because arthritis is real. They will survive on Twitter and Facebook as you try to master level five of Angry Birds Space. They will find strange videos on YouTube while you try and follow your favorite show on live stream (usually the news). They will ride bikes and enjoy roller skating while you obey the traffic code and look left twice before crossing the road. And life will go on as always. Or will it?
You see, the trouble with having children over for the holiday is having to trust them. You, as an adult in any capacity, have to trust that they are not getting into any mischief. And the mischief children can get into has evolved. Stealing a lick or two of sugar won’t do anymore. Neither will climbing up a mango tree for some juicy fruit. That’s so 1978. Throwing stones at the old man’s house? What old man? So 1984. Playing with ‘Simba’ the neighborhood’s ferocious guard dog? 1995.
Drink? House party? Sext?
That’s where the fear sets in. Society has evolved to the point where both parents are out there trying to make ends meet…not because most of them want to but because they have to. The primary reason most parents will give is their children. There is a genuine desire to see their children in the best schools, getting the best education and accessing the best opportunities life has to offer. And this steady diet of the best of the best costs an arm and a leg. But the children are upon us.
Yes, in their skinny jeans and luminous hairstyles, ‘hanging out’ like there is nothing for them to do. Holiday tuition used to be a relief for the insecure parent. That way they knew half the child’s day was occupied by more school. I shall not judge whether it was right or wrong to remove the institution but I empathize with the worry riddled mother who has to call home every hour to ensure her peace of mind.
Some say the drinking and partying and sexting is just a phase and that it will pass. I agree with them to some degree. As children grow they are bound to explore themselves. They will test their boundaries and explore spirituality and sexuality. Every living adult has gone through this phase of life and we all know it would be pointless to try and stop it. Every generation had its own taboo item ranging from reggae music and the belief it made you a ganja smoking rag head, jazz and the idea it made you sexually immoral and rock and roll that made you seem like a devil worshiper. Luckily, we’ve grown to accept these as being just music and people as having their own decisions to make. It was a phase and it passed.
But what worries me is what the children of this day and age go through in this phase of life. Drinking (alcohol) is an addictive practice even for adults. Usually a slippery slope, coming back from an alcohol addiction or any other drug addiction can be difficult. This is made tougher by the ease of accessibility to some drugs by price and location. To put this into perspective, you can buy a roll of bang for as little as Ksh. 20 from your local peddler, just find him/her first.
Beyond the drinking is the sexting which put simply is exchanging images or text based conversations of a sexual manner. I won’t point fingers because it’s a widespread phenomenon not only limited to school going children on holiday. Society tends to focus on children because they are minors according to law and should not engage in this dangerous experience where strangers could use their sexts for pornographic content or should it come up in a less than convenient place e.g. a Face Book conversation with friends often leading to cyber bullying and trolling.
The cruel inherent nature within society will look for someone to blame for the drunk, sext crazy children in its midst and ultimately the finger of blame will point at the parents. Yes, the same parents whose lives go on as always these many August holidays. Who will get up at 4 O’clock and sit in traffic, sit in the office and eat cold matoke for lunch so that these children can go back to school in September and benefit from the opportunities an education will avail them. These parents who worry about what their children are doing in their absence but can really do nothing about it. These parents who we blame every day.
So who should we blame? TV? The internet? Schools?
I say forget the blame and raise the children. We can’t blame TV because we all watch TV. We watch the fighting scenes, and the kissing scenes, and the hugging scenes and even the sex scenes. Sometimes we complain if they are not there.
We can’t blame schools because parents sent their children to learn in school, not to grow up. Growing up is a personal choice a child makes with society as a guide.
I say forget the blame, we’ve got children to worry about.