By Gatuiri Kathendu
So much were the activities around us such that we didn’t even take time to notice the differences (in social, academic, status, and many other differences) when I was growing up.
But what I remember with intrigue is how we hacked school life (especially in primary school) and social life. Every evening after leaving school, instead of homework, we would go collecting firewood from a certain forest that is no longer there. In the process, we would have those children games of hide and seek but ensure that we get back home before night fall. Actually, it was not unusual to find someone with school uniforms collecting firewood. After this, when tired and out, that’s when we would go to work on the home-works.
Then I remember there are some teachers who would as us to go with sticks for caning the following day and we would go and cut from a certain tree-straight smooth canes. Gosh! Were we overly obedient or naïve? I simply can’t tell.
But overlooking all those things that we did those days that make me wonder how many boxes we were in, I also learnt several things from them. And one of the lessons that we learnt, was the aspect of responsibility.
You see, for a reason that only our creator knows, our village (neighbourhood) had more girls than boys. Therefore, most of the chores were done by us-irrespective of the task definition. I can’t count the many times we fetched water from the river downhill. The times we had to go to the shamba and get feeds for rabbits and goat. The times that the poultry was left under our care for several days. Or even the many times we would be weeding under scorching sun and you can’t go home because you have to finish up your portion. and the time one would be sent to the market to buy maize flour and take to the mill and get back before some water on a leave dry up. Yeah! i know many have no idea what this means. but also guess what? Even with all this work to do, we got scolded for playing a lot.
How could we not play? Work without play make …well, made us tired and dull. All these made us.
I wonder how many children today can help out the house helps with simple tasks like washing utensils or clean up the house. I wouldn’t be surprised that there are teenagers who cannot make their beds because, “‘aunty’ is employed to do that.” Many cannot fix their blouse button or their skirts hem.
I feel for the family institution because many parents have raised their children so wrong. It was crazy and tiring, unpleasant, overwhelming those days. But today, I look back and I sigh for our parents meant no harm.
Could be the parents today mean no harm by ‘spoiling’ their children, but I would wholly advice that they need to weigh the short term and long term benefits of their acts.
I know there is no actual manual for parenthood or that training that can equip you for that because things change as time rolls, but I also know that if we purpose to raise future mothers, fathers, wives and husbands who are responsible and reliable, we can do it.
So, I have been too much into my days of growing up, you ask how old I am? Old enough to tell the difference between my teenage and the current one. There is a HUGE gap between us. But we can make a change before our children lack who to marry.