What you need to know:
- The Kenyan middle class is no longer defined by gated communities but gated people.
- These are people sharing the same blocks, compounds and services but hardly see or greet each other.
The Kenyan middle class is no longer defined by gated communities but gated people. These are people sharing the same blocks, compounds and services but hardly see or greet each other. That looks good on paper until something happens to your child, and you are jolted out of that cocoon to appreciate knowing your neighbours.
That lifestyle defined me a few years ago, and that I do not drink alcohol made it even more difficult because there was little to leverage on when reaching out. That was until my son fell sick one night, and a new outlook on life was spread right in front of my eyes.
A simple ‘hello’ to the guard at the gate could go a long way in saving your child
I dashed to the nearest dispensary for medication and was told the paediatrician had stepped out but would be back in a few. When a child is unwell, minutes usually feel like hours and make the wait torturous. At some point, one of the neighbours I shared a block with and known as Mama Tagasa walked in, greeted me then disappeared inside. I wondered whether one of her children was admitted or she had come to visit someone else.
You should have seen the shock on my face when I was ushered into the doctor’s room, and guess who was seated inside with an apron, notepad and stethoscope? Mama Tagasa! In other words, I had left her a few doors from mine and rushed to the dispensary in wait for a pediatrician.
After examination and medication, I felt so bad to learn that she stocked some of the drugs prescribed since her house had children my son’s age. What had made me drive through the night like crazy was something that would have been controlled with help next door.
She further revealed that a fellow parent once told her off as she tried to observe a baby whose eyes looked sunken, only for the same mother to rush that baby to her in the hospital the very night.
It was an eye-opener, albeit the hard way, that when you become a parent, you need to make a deliberate attempt to know the people around you because they could come in handy.
Pediatrician next door
Most of us have heard of households where nannies mistreat children when the parents are away at work (my son was a victim, as captured in my earlier article titled My son’s experience with a nanny from hell). If your house does not have a CCTV system installed, chances are you will get to learn about this mistreatment from a neighbour.
That, however, becomes difficult when you barricade yourself from the world like an island. I understand that some people find it hard reaching out, but a simple ‘hello’ to the guard at the gate could go a long way in saving your child the day he collapses in the playground, and you are away at work. Or looks sick, but your house girl underestimates the severity of the condition.
Lest I am accused of looking at life through a negative lens, let us flip the coin to the other side and imagine openings, birthday parties and competitions; your child could potentially benefit from you creating that rapport. I bet every parent would feel bad if he or she stepped out of the house to find a bouncing castle with estate children jumping all over, but your child is not aware.
That connection with Mama Tagasa made life easier. Whenever my baby showed signs that pointed to him not being okay, I would pass by her house first for observation to know how severe or manageable it was.
Mama Tagasa has since moved out of our estate, but the experience of finding out she was a paediatrician next door and I had no idea has taught me to reach out and know people around, not for myself, but my baby.
Talking of moving out, yours truly would also like to make it known that this is the last article from the Daddy Diaries desk. I appreciate all the e-mails with comments and compliments. It has been a fantastic journey that has come to an end, but I am still available on firstname.lastname@example.org.