My Cousin’s children came visiting , apparently they had been disturbing their mum that they wanted to come to Ibadan where we live for Christmas.
Day one of their arrival was fun. I was surprised at how much they had grown. Two of them were already in secondary school, while the last two weren’t bed wetting again. I remember the last time they came over. I kept waking up the one who slept in my room to urinate. I was petrified of waking up and seeing urine. lol. This time around, they had become “bigs” girls and boys. Day one was all hugs and kisses.
Day two, I started feeling a headache coming up. I woke up to them arguing over a photo. ” No, this is Aunty Bisola” ” No, it’s Aunty Biodun”.
I was happy to run off to work while my sister and mum took them out to Ventura Mall to play some games and to the U.I Zoo. Those kids started appearing less cute. They had boundless energy, I thought they would come back home tired, and sleep off. For where, their eyes were as open as Nepa wire.
Plus all they wanted to watch was Cartoon. I watched enough Cartoon to last me a lifetime. My favorite Tv series had to take a back seat.
I had to become imaginative with punishments. A room quickly changed to naughty room, and a chair became naughty chair. I sent any erring child there to go and think of Nigeria. Lol.
Day Three. By this time, I had become a mean Aunty.
I had no choice, with the headache they were giving me. I was in charge of babysitting seven kids ( three other kids joined them the day before because their parents were traveling). My mum and sister went out with one to buy stuff leaving me with six. I shouted and barked and brandished a comb and back scratcher as my weapons. Not that it worked sef. They were just jumping up and down, screaming, fighting. I was tired. At a point I gave up and went to sleep. after warning them not to come near my room.They cannot kill me.
Day Four was Church day. The three who joined them had left the previous evening so there was some sort of sanity. They are Muslims ( from my dad’s side) so they didn’t go to church. My mum stayed home to babysit them.
I came home from Church to meet silence. My mum had taken them to her mother’s house.
What? Unbelievable. I quickly went to sleep before they came back. Of course, their arrival woke me up. Their parents arrived later that night to take them back to Lagos the next day.
Day five was departure date. I was oddly emotional after they left and shed a few tears sef. The house seemed oddly empty, and I forgot all my wishes that their parents came to pick them as soon as possible. I wished they would stay with us forever, and that they were my kids. Don’t ask me why. I wasn’t really thinking straight.lol.
1)I learnt that Children have their pride, and that they don’t like crying in front of the others especially if they were senior to them. I also had to be careful the way I punished the senior ones in front of the junior ones.
2) I honed my judging and referee skills. ” Aunty Bisola! Emmanuel kicked me in the stomach”. I had to hear the other party, determine if the allegations were true and decide appropriate punishment.
3) All children are equal but some are more equal than others. ( did you read animal farm in secondary school?). It was amusing seeing the second eldest one send the younger ones on errands like they were her soldiers and she was the commanding officer. When I asked her why she said her elder brother too used to send her on errands.
4) Withdrawal of privileges was the most effective method of getting them to keep quiet. ” if you talk, no cartoon for you” worked like magic. All the others punishments weren’t so effective. I just wasted my saliva.” kneel down” ” Go to naughty room” ” Go to the steps” “come here” ” Sit down here” ” Nobody must jump” . For where? That only subdued them for a few minutes.
5) I didn’t have the heart to punish them for long. Say Five to ten minutes. If I had to spank, it was short . And when the eldest disobeyed and I spanked him, I felt guilty and I called him back to explain to him why I had to do that ( and gave him my Ipad to play with as consolation) . I am not even sure that he deserved to be spanked because he maintained that the other kids lied against him. You see how difficult the work of a judge is? Lol.
Beating kids (especially boys regularly) and harshly can harden them and you get a child who will stop caring because he’s stopped fearing beating. Kids can be exasperating. Anybody who decides to beat them for every infraction will just kill himself.
But what do I know? They aren’t my kids. Anyone who has, teaches or deals with kids on a regular basis should tell us more.