I once threw that line to a 6 year old. You know how it goes…’By the time I was 6, I could cook Ugali for 20 people, I could cook chapatis, I could be sent to the market for a sack of charcoal, I could to go to the river and fill every tank in the village…’ I once heard a 5 year old saying her dad used to be the president of Kenya (trust me, she doesn’t belong to the Kenyattas, Mois, Kibakis or Uhurus) . Another one believes that the dad makes planets and he has left the country to go make 5 more planets. (Honesty dads are beating mums in this)
Every parent wants their children to know how good they are or were, most of us have dads who were always topping their class throughout their schooling, and moms who never saw a boy until they got married. So we find ourselves talking to our kids instead of showing them how it is done. Compared to now, children used to do way more back then. There’s no way my mum would be sweeping the house and she has 5 kids above 6years. And if you rebelled, you would face my dad. So we grew up knowing what needs to be done at home.
Most of the parents now allow the children to command the house help, to get them drinking water, to spread their beds, to come clear the table and even get them handkerchiefs. In some homes, when the househelp takes the weekend off, utensils will remain in the sink until he/she returns. Where are the parents and children? They have probably gone to eat out and keep telling their kids how hardworking they were when they were 6 year old. We don’t want to strain our children, they already have homework and TV, Right?
Back to my story, so when I was throwing a few lines of the list of what I could do when I was 6… The little boy asked ‘who taught you all that?’ obviously the answer was my parents; you should have seen me, all proud of my parents, praising them for all they taught me to do. The training and discipline I went through when I failed to perform my duties. How we were being awarded for cleaning the compound and cleaning the house. It was evident that I owe my house chore skills to my parents.
I got thinking, as parent, what can my daughter praise me for? What have i taught her to do? Wait a minute, can she do anything at the age of 9? Is she too beautiful and fragile to make her own bed? I am guilty of calling her my baby and wanting to protect her from dirty dishes, I am guilty of telling her to raise her legs so that I mop the floor and keep her safe from the mess.
There is ‘being careful’ where we tell them not to go near fire and knives..then there is ‘being careless’ when we tell our teenagers to throw their panties and handkerchiefs in the dirty clothes basket to be washed by the househelp. If at all we are hardworking and excellent in all we do, we don’t even need to praise ourselves, our children emulate what they see, not what they hear. So to train your child, drop the perfection and heroic speeches, and get to work.