Perhaps a few of us heard about the media uproar over the Obama girls being rebuked on the internet by a lady who felt it her duty to reprimand the First Daughters of America. I don’t really want to debate about whether she was right to do this or not. I’ll leave that to the Americans. In African society however, it’s a common but annoying thing for every elder to tell you what they think of you whether they have ever seen you before in their lives or not.
Many of us in the younger generation have decried this practice but sometimes I wonder if there are extenuating circumstances that permits outsiders to correct younger people when they might need correcting. I’m sure I’ve told a lot of my friends and acquaintances this story. But I don’t mind sharing it again. I went to church one evening for midweek service and I was about to get my Bible Study on, when right in front of me there was a ruckus. I looked up to see what was disturbing me. There was a woman in front of me holding her toddler up and he was making an awful noise. She halfheartedly told him to shush but he didn’t seem in the mood to listen. I added my own remonstrations, making grimaces to him from the back but he didn’t heed me either. He started pounding on his mother’s body with his fists. Then not being satisfied with that, he proceeded to sink his teeth into her arm. All this time, she did nothing. I thought she would take the boy out and teach him a lesson but instead she said: “Ouch.” When he did it again, she got up and told him she would leave him to sit on his own and then she went to find another seat towards the back. This child followed her, picked up his shoe and threw it right in her face. It hit her squarely on the eye. I held my breath thinking that this time the boy would get it. To my utmost surprise, the mother picked the boy up calmly and placed him in her lap then returned to her former seat. The boy continued making noise. This time when I tried harder to shush him from my seat, the mother gave me the bad eye. (I thought to myself: don’t complain if 15 years later he comes to pound his fists into you). It seemed like I was the only one perturbed in this my politically correct church, everybody else was minding their own business. So I tried to block out the noise and focus on the Bible Study too.
After the service, I couldn’t help wondering that it would have been better if there were grandmothers present in that service, the boy would have learnt a very valuable lesson. He probably would have learnt how not to practice violence on anybody though he would have learnt this in a violent way(his butt would be sore). I felt that this was an example where our concept of ‘it takes a village to train a child’ would have worked or was even required. It is sad that this generation does not seem to take discipline as seriously as it was in the old days. Granted, our parents giving us 30 strokes of cane for forgetting to sweep the kitchen might have been a little extreme, but aren’t we leaning a little too far to the left this days? Should we just let some things slide? We complain that this generation is irresponsible, but are we doing enough to ensure that the generation behind us becomes more responsible than we were? Sometimes, when the parents fail to do the needful, maybe they need a little extra help. What do you think?