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Parenting Angst

And how old is your child?

No! And he isn’t potty trained yet?

My son/daughter is the same age/is a month younger/a year younger.

He takes himself to the loo and makes sure it is flushed.

She counts to 30 and identifies all the numbers.

He is so brilliant. I don’t know where he gets it from.

He reads/does fractions/knows his Picasso from his Matisse.

And your heart sinks. You want to slink off and never arrive at the school gate at the same time as these perfect parents again. Yes, those ones whose children have perfect manners and don’t speak like Ekaette the nanny. Yes, you know the ones, their kids walked before yours, speak in full sentences and are whizzes on the IPad; whilst yours is still babbling in pidgin.

Help! When did parenting get so angst-ridden, competitive and just so mentally exhausting? Did our parents really hover over us, ferrying us from Kumon Math to Suzuki violin; from baby Einstein session to synchronised crawling? Ok, I made that last one up but I am pretty sure it is only a matter of time before some guru decides your child’s future will be severely prejudiced if you neglected (and neglected is the operative word here) to fill every waking hour with the latest child improvement fad. And no, I haven’t forgotten the classical music you need to play whilst they are sleeping. Honestly.

And while you are still reeling from the ever present feeling of impending failure, not trying hard enough, you trip over the hippy dippy, let-them-teach-themselves, ‘don’t ever use the word no’ earth mother; telling you your children are going to hate you for ever, their future blighted and spend their inheritance on therapy/drugs/rehab. That if you don’t constantly tell them you love them, build up their fragile egos, that they are the best, they can do no wrong, etc., etc., you are practically evil and should never have brought children into this world! And you wonder why you ever thought that having children was the one thing missing from your life.

Is there no happy medium where we all potter along, doing the best we can, hoping for the best, praying it will all turn out right in the end kind of way, whilst navigating our way through this maze? I know it sounds Pollyannaish but did our parents really do all these ‘net mum’ stuff? My memory is shot but I can’t say I remember much of that. You weren’t told ‘I love you’ 100 times a day and yet you KNEW you were. You had clear boundaries and had duties around the house. Yes, you grumbled but they weren’t negotiable. And no, meal times did not involve choices – you ate what was in front of you, and cleared up.

And now here you are. You survived childhood, school, work; even made friends, married and, shock horror, you are now at the dreaded school gate. And so you time it well,with just enough time to dash in, grab your sprog and leg it to the waiting car. Oh, um, well, you parked round the corner because …. Well, the rent will be due in another 3 months, the funeral of that relative you couldn’t quite claim ignorance of, and er, it was the school fees or the new car. So, parking round the corner it has to be, at least until you move from Ogede Island to Banana Island proper. Or maybe, just wait until Greater Banana finally emerges from the fast ebbing lagoon. Then you can really get your own back on those competitive, patronising parents. Nope, you won’t rejoice when their super tutored princes(ses) with fragile egos decide that the work place/Nigeria/Africa is not good enough for them and they are going to ‘just chill’. No, that would be petty, unworthy of you. But ….a teeny weeny bit of schadenfreude perhaps?

After all, Dia is God O!

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