What you need to know:
- How is a woman to respect her husband if he is still being treated, not as a man with his own boma, but as a child to be fussed over?
- When a parent keeps referring to an adult offspring as mtoto wangu, then there is something horribly wrong.
I got a call from an unfamiliar number.
“I got your number from your uncle”, the caller said. “I am calling to ask if you could please get my child a job.” He referred to his son as mtoto, which prompted me to ask how young the child was.
A while back, before free secondary education, my friends and I would receive such calls for work, for girls as young as 14 seeking employment as domestic workers in the city. My chama of girlfriends would do our due diligence and if we found the case was genuine, we would pool resources and enrol the girl into an affordable secondary school. I thought this was the case now.
“How old is your child?”
He mumbled some numbers, putting together years, then finally said:
“He should be turning 28 in a few months.”
“But... that’s not a child! That is a grownup man!” I exclaimed, speaking my thought out loud.
The caller did not help the matter when he said, “Yes, my child has a wife and two children. He really needs a job.”
On the verge of separation
“What kind of job? What are his qualifications?” I asked him.
“He will do any job.”
“Please stop calling him a child. Also, he should be the one calling me. Give him my number and let him call me.”
“He might feel shy calling you. He is a shy person.”
“How will he attend an interview?”
“You can place him somewhere.”
“I am sorry, but if he cannot speak to me and state his case, share his interests and qualifications, I cannot recommend him to any employer.”
He promised to share my number with his ‘child’ who never contacted me thereafter.
This conversation came to mind the other day when I heard about the story of this couple that was on the verge of separation, barely a year into their marriage. The husband’s mother had made it a habit to ensure that her ‘child’, the 30-something-old man was well taken care of by his new wife. She had given one of her rental apartments to the new couple, but this also meant that she felt she had every right to come in at any time to check in on them.
Marriage headed downhill
But the fights started when she found the son’s new wife wanting in more than one aspect. The young woman was mostly in tears once her mother-in-law had left their house. The elderly lady complained that her ‘child’ was not well taken care of, especially in the food department.
She, therefore, had fresh food sent in every week and would call the young lady to explain how the food was to be prepared, so that her ‘mtoto’ still got his nutritional needs.
There were more issues around the interference of the mother in this young marriage relationship, but things got worse when the young woman got pregnant. Her mother-in-law fretted about her son, leaving the man no room to man up and now fret over his pregnant wife.
How is a woman to respect her husband if he is still being treated, not as a man with his own boma, but as a child to be fussed over? How is it not weird to call a grown-up man mtoto?
I get it that one can refer, in general, to his offspring as his or her children, but when a parent keeps referring to an adult offspring as mtoto wangu, then there is something horribly wrong. The maturity needed in marriage cannot be achieved by children. The problem was already there early on when this couple accepted to live, rent-free in the mother’s apartment.
How I wish someone had told them that the leave and cleave literally means that; cut off strings from your parents, leave their abode and go hustle together from your one-roomed rented space.
Honour your parents, of course, but treat them as an extended family when it comes to your marriage. If the decisions of your relationship, whether financial or otherwise are discussed elsewhere, without your consent or involvement, then that marriage is headed downhill.
If a parent has to fret over an adult child, who has no special needs and is in fact married, either that parent is extremely idle, extremely unwise or both. Her adult offspring is an idiot as well and should not have married anyone in the first place. Marriage is an adult affair, not for watoto.
Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]