What you need to know:
- All it took was one stern look from mummy dearest to reset any malfunctioning human being in the house to default – this excluded not even the man who wears the pants!
- Such was the silent but practical contractual understanding between the children and their maternal care takers; one which could neither be challenged at any level nor could it be revoked even if the world was ending.
Does anyone remember what the most dangerous artillery in our mothers' armoury was during our childhood years? A weapon so destructive it would make a screaming child’s voice obliterate into silence and instantaneously halt all mischief without warning. Her Eyes. All it took was one stern look from mummy dearest to reset any malfunctioning human being in the house to default – this excluded not even the man who wears the pants! Such was the silent but practical contractual understanding between the children and their maternal care takers; one which could neither be challenged at any level nor could it be revoked even if the world was ending. These eyes contained words, gestures and every other form of communication modem that rendered this one human sense supreme overall. Woe unto you if you were not able to decipher its meaning on time; because if your hapless lack of brain cells disabled you from understanding the language of the eyes, mothers favorite patapata slippers would be utilised to infuse into you some much needed ‘guidance’.
The tone has changed
But this was then – ages ago! Today, we (mothers) have adopted, or instead have been forced to adapt to a new form of tactical battle known as the Art of Negotiation.
As opposed to our parents whose word was law, ours is a relaxed, peaceful and conciliatory tone containing magic words like ‘please’, ‘kindly’, ‘I beg you’ and so on. Today’s children have found ways to turn the tables on our generation regarding parenting matters. Let’s take a brief count of how many times special words are used around today’s children– please wake up, kindly go to pee, please let’s take a shower, I beg you - eat your meal, please go to school, kindly do your homework, I beg you - stop messing up the house, please stop yelling, please just stop crying, please stop throwing a tantrum, I beg you - be nice to your sibling, please go to bed… the batter of any eye once solved all this. Yet, today for every special word we use,
the effect is not an automatic agreement to do as asked; rather it is the opening of a conversation. A conversation that entails negotiation with our captors. As hostages we engage in a continuous back and forth of why what is being asked of our children is beneficial to them and hence, they ought to listen to what we are trying to tell them. Remember, the poorer the negotiator you are, the more likely you will be forced into complying with the rug rat’s demands. Do you know when all this stings most? When Grandma is home, and your child decide that is the day, she will show off her stubbornness, her silent treatment skills and her plain outright refusal to obey instructions (sorry, read requests).
Grandma will smirk gleefully and probably utter something close to ningekuwa wewe this would NEVER have happened. Agreed mum, this would never have happened because we were a bunch of obedient children in whom you had instilled the fear of God, which left us trembling in your presence. But, this grandchild of yours is a handful simply because the days of the cane are beyond us, and we very much prefer to have negotiation conversations than being demanding and commanding. Are we then breeding a generation of misfits? Only time will tell. For now, all we want to do is to come home and put our feet in a tub of warm water and not spend time & energy chasing the devil around the house with a mwiko.