Family,  Parenting

Not only Dad

Becoming a Father means you are now part of the Parents Club. We will start this Father’s Day weekend by beginning with the celebration of being a Parent. June 1st  was Parents’ Day 2019. 

 

Dateline: July 2016, Gatwick Airport.
Mr. Dee, Q, and I had just landed in London en route Preston for my sister Oris’ Ph.D. graduation.

An immigration official engaged us in a brief conversation.

“You have Nigerian passports, and your son was born in America; do you mind if I ask how much you paid for the birth?”

I gave her the figure.

You are rich! “she exclaimed.

My usual response to such statements is “You’d have to ask my bank manager; but I suspect that he would have been tempted to side with her.

Instead, I said-“ It’s not about being rich; you have to look at the big picture and then make the necessary sacrifices to enable you to give your child the best possible options available.”

After all, I had heard about a man who every time his wife got pregnant, she would undergo a scan, and only if it was a male child would the wife travel to the abroad for delivery, all their female children were born in Nigeria.

Q and I, on the other hand, didn’t realize we were going to have a boy until a pregnancy scan in the US revealed that, about 4 weeks to the birth.

It was my fault actually, as I had misread the previous result in Nigeria, thankfully Q was able to return the pink dresses and get blue onesies instead, otherwise, Mr. Dee would have turned up looking like his uncle did several times back then in nursery school, after having one “accident” too many.

For Ms. Zee, before leaving Nigeria we did three scans to be treble sure, and yes we really wanted a girl.

I had also heard about parents who had defaulted on school fees or even moved their kids to cheaper schools so that they could buy SUVs or undertake exotic holidays.

To our credit, we didn’t return to the UK until April 2019, mainly because Mr. Dee’s school calendar was the determinant for free time, and all previous breaks only lasted for one week each. And No, we haven’t bought Benzes or SUVs just yet.

I recall going to a friend’s house back in the mid-1980s, his parents had 9 children and they had just redone the furniture/repainted the house. and bought a few electronics, but I couldn’t help but notice that his dad had holes in his socks!
And I remember thinking, surely he can afford to buy new socks, he had just returned from a working visit to England a short while before then and had bought items of clothing for all the children.

But looking back, it wasn’t the ability or inability to buy socks that were the issues, but his preoccupation with the children’s well-being.

In a country where public education (or is it mis-education) exists only in name, and the expense associated with private education doesn’t exactly measure up with the output (cue the video of primary school students crying/praying during school hours which was gleefully shared by their teachers as evidence of right upbringing, or the private university students who are regularly asked to kneel down by their lecturers) and one’s heart falters for this generation, and the next, who it would seem are largely being turned into sheeple.

But still, parents must do their best in the circumstances to provide for their offsprings, children, and pickins (if you know, you know). If you don’t know, then Ikoyi, Surulere, and Ajegunle is as best a hint as I can give.
*Note that I haven’t used the term “kids”, as they weren’t birthed by goats!

Yes, in a country where public education (or is it mis-education) exists only in name, life expectancy is barely over 50, and in which each one of us is our own government, there are certainly bigger issues to worry about than the holes in our socks.

Being a parent is a lesson in sacrificial giving/living, especially considering that there is practically no social security safety net in Nigeria, hence your children may also double as your retirement plan.

“So help you God” if they turn their backs on you, or even worse if the economic realities make it impossible for them to be of assistance despite their best intentions. Desperation has driven many to extremities…

The job of a parent is mainly to mould, and then hope that the child turns out right (and doesn’t shatter) whilst being baked in the oven called life.

Of course there is a limit to your responsibility for the end product, as this is another human being we are talking about, otherwise, you may “learn the hard way, that one can’t possess another”.

A parent also points in the (hopefully?) right direction, and sometimes I think of how much differently my life may have turned out.

As some of you may know, my maternal grandfather was a fisherman, but he was a wise man. However he had pledged that his daughter wouldn’t marry a fellow fisherman, in his words, he wouldn’t be able to bear seeing/being greeted by his in-laws on the river every day, so he instilled the love for education in all his children, being that the place of education as a tool for social mobility cannot be understated.

And to his/their credit all his children were schooled to the best of his ability, and virtually all his grandchildren are graduates, and if any hasn’t obtained higher qualifications, then it would probably be due to financial constraints rather than an absence of ambition in that regard.

My paternal grandfather, on the other hand, was a manager in AT&P Sapele, probably the only black person holding such a position at the time, a dandy even by today’s standards, as all his clothing was from England (that probably explains my fascination with Jermyn Street shirts (LOL).

However, he ensured that young Tom, who was the youngest in his class, got the best education that he could afford. Though Time and Chance subsequently happened, and my father had to self–sponsor through the University.

Unfortunately, it seems that some parents have abandoned their children in the name of religion to itinerant custodians, obnoxious cultural practices, or allegations of witchcraft, strangely (or rather, unsurprisingly) the children of the elites are not involved in these situations, though some have faltered in the oven.

On this Parents’ Day(and Father’s day if you missed), my advice is that you  go visit your parents(fathers), or where geography does not allow- then pick up the phone and call them, or write a letter to thank them for birthing you, and raising you to the best of their ability, financial or otherwise (if they knew better, they would do better).

Also, honor them with your substance. The first commandment relating to humans expressly refers to them, and it also has a promise attached thereto. They are your real Daddy and Mummy, not those charlatans who have caged you in mental prisons.

Where your parent(s) may have departed this earthly plain or your life, then do something that honours their memory or tries to reverse their failings.

If you are privileged to be a parent, guardian or in loco parentis to young persons, kindly bear in mind that you shoulder a huge responsibility, which even though sometimes it can be/feel like a thankless job, indeed if you put some of them up for adoption, the foster parents are likely to return them soon afterward (okay, I joking).

But to a very large extent,our children’s outlook on life depends on us. It is pertinent that we do not betray that trust.

Hence it is also important that we walk uprightly, not enslaved by unthinking blind followership of dogma (cultural, political, religious, societal, traditional, or whatever).

 

Ps: And while we are at it, let’s not omit to take time out, to check our socks for holes.

 

See more from Godwin Tom-Lawyer on

“Things That Make you say Chai” -on Facebook

 

Glossary

Q-Queensley(wife), Mr Dee-son, Miss Zee-daughter 

Parents’ Day 2019-June 1st,2019

 

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