Today I start by re-introducing this girl to you. 1. She is mine. 2. She is ten years old. 3. She is beautiful (just like her mother) 4. She plays the recorder 5. She loves reading books and watching Moana. There are many things about her life: That’s why this blog exists, but today lets focus on number 1. Is she really mine? Of course she is, but not mine alone. She belongs to my entire clan and friends. You should see my friends loving on her, correcting her and even taking her away from me for days. When you meet her for the first time, she starts off as this collected girl, doesn’t talk much, smiles and looks away. Then she slowly starts opening up. By the time the date is over, she tells me every observation she made about you. Asks questions about you! (Why does she talk like that? Does she have children? Who is he?) She even goes ahead to imitate you! We are at the annoying texting stage where she will walk out of the living room, leave you and I talking, text me from her bed room asking for your name, then come back pretending that nothing has happened! Ooh I love this girl.
She has spent some days at my best friend’s place. After the two planning for a sleep over from January. She is loving it, totally enjoying the ‘aunties love and luxuries’ . I have had conversations with her, and evidently, she is not planning to come back, but I have better plans for her. (She is mine) Of course not all my rules apply there. She is being pampered and asked to choose her own meals. She is taken out for rides at night and has been promised the Nairobi City View from the KICC rooftop! How can I top that? At her age, that is better than school fees and vegetables! It is more important than paying rent. So she is glowing like a princess, of course the aunty has given her some cleaning responsibilities. Which she apparently enjoys! (Are her dirty dishes better than mine?)
The other day I went to see her, I found her trying out wigs, and feeling so sweet and mature. She looked totally different and even behaved a little bit different. She was slowly adjusting into the culture of the house. I don’t have evidence but something tells me that she has tried her make up, and put on her huge fury sweaters. Evidently, she is admiring my friend and trying to pick up a few things from her. She is in Rome doing exactly what Romans do! I pray she doesn’t come back with strange eating habits like waking up at night to lick peanut butter! ( Ooh I will be killed for this!) I also pray she doesn’t drop her good habits, like cleaning up after eating popcorn/crisps.
This is not the first time she is away from my house, after all she was with my parents for some years before we took our relationship to this level. I look at her, and I pick out some habits and cultures that come from my parents’ upbringing. She is very respectful. She is the kind of girl who would stand and allow the grown ups to sit. She is the girl who doesn’t wait for you to do everything for her, she is responsible. This is all thanks to my parents. She has also interacted with some of my friends. From some, she has learnt to open up and just show her playful side, from others she has learnt to eat using the fork and knife (This is not me!! I cannot use a knife to eat ugali with chicken. Why?) From others, she has learnt to pray and read the word. Of course my sister has influenced her artistic side, she has learnt to make cards and jewellery.
I have come to realise that everyone I connect her to, influences her. Everyone I open my house to, interacts with her. Everyone I associate with, has an impact on her. There are places she has gone and come back saying she never wants to go back! There are people I interact with and I can never leave them alone with my child. There are those I can comfortably tell to take her out for movies. She doesn’t just copy me, she copies the people around her as well. I thank God she knows what to copy and what not to. But if I expose her to habits and cultures I don’t like, I would be making her vulnerable to them.
So yes, it takes a whole village to raise a child. But as a guardian who knows the members of the village you have the authority to decide which villagers should come close and which ones should stay as far as possible. Because if you expose them to the village thief, they will learn how to steal. If you expose them to the village gossip, they will learn how to gossip. I believe it’s not just about raising the child. It’s about raising them right.