FRANQUE’S FATHERWOOD: crosSRoads

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“Efo!!!” Or “Osa!!!” These are cries that ring out almost daily from one of my neighbours, usually followed by “These children will not kill me.” Or threats of “I will beat you o! Oya come here now!!”

I wonder at the seeming helplessness of parents these days. They work so hard to provide so their children do not lack, yet their blood pressure is high up there with the clouds.

I once babysat Abdullah during the holidays. “Have you had breakfast?” I had asked him. He shook his head in the negative. “What do you want to eat?” Silence. “Do you want Quaker oats?” A nod in the affirmative. With the porridge done, I came out to get milk when I saw him trying to puncture the pack of Hollandia milk his mother had packed for him. I seized it and told him it was for later.

When I served him the bowl of porridge, he would not touch it. I tried to beg then cajole him to no avail. Then, I called his mother to find out how she feeds him when he gets like this. “Tell him you will take him for injection,” she replied. Not even that worked. I tried force feeding him, but ended up with food all over my face and everywhere else but down his throat. It was then I saw red.

A film covered my eyes from the inside and my vision tunnelled. I pulled him up with my left hand and my right came crashing down on his behind. Three smacks I gave him before setting him down. He started to cry and I pretended not to notice, then he sulked and refused to talk to me and I pretended not to care. After about fifteen minutes of just sitting there, the both of us, watching tv and not talking, I pulled him close to me and explained why I spanked him.

I don’t know if he heard or understood my reason, I only hoped he understood my message: the wages of naughtiness is a good spanking.

Then another day, I was trying to catch a nap but someone at the gate would not let me. I looked out over the balcony and saw Ben, my neighbour’s son, at the gate. His diaper was sagged as per normal and he was jangling the bolts that should be in the ground to hold the gate in place.

“Osa can you please move Ben from the gate and take him in?” I asked his almost-five-years old brother. The noise stopped and I lay down to rest. Just then it started again, only this time with a vengeance. I got up to investigate, and what I saw had me flying down the stairs.

I got to the gate, ignored Ben and pulled Osa close to me – he had gone and joined in. The scared look on his face did nothing to deter me. I kicked the slipper off my right foot and with it, landed three strokes on his behind. As soon as I let him go, he was off like a canon, hopping from foot to foot and crying. I returned upstairs and waited for his mother’s voice. Nothing.

I see situations like this everywhere, everyday and it kills me. Everywhere I turn I see children calling the shots.

The other day on a flight, a man wanted an infant seatbelt for his 4-year old son. When I told him children over 24 months had to sit in their seats for take off and landing, he told me how I wouldn’t understand. “He will not sit in his seat,” he moaned.

In shocked surprise I asked him “Sir, which one of you paid for the tickets? You or your son?”

“Me of course,” he answered.

“My point exactly,” I told him and left him to be the man.

On another flight a woman was close to tears. Junior would not sit down.

Her son wanted to run all over the aircraft, and after two feeble attempts at showing her authority, she resorted to threatening the boy with ‘police’ – and I was supposedly the police that would arrest him!

I walked up to him, held him by both shoulders and said so his mother would hear “Hi Junior, I am not a policeman but I have more power than the police on this plane. If you don’t take your seat and fasten your seatbelt, I will take you from your mommy and lock you up in the toilet for the remainder of the flight.” He tried to wriggle out of my hands, but my grip was deathlike, firm and unyielding. I did not release him until he looked into my eyes and I drilled him with the frostiest stare I could manage. Sometimes bully boy tactics had its uses.

***********

I remember the eyes from growing up. Mama rarely opened her mouth to speak, but you got the message clear as crystal.

Once we had guests over on a Sunday and Globetrotters was showing on tv. Normally, I would have left the parlour as soon as the guests came in, but that day I just lay there on the floor with my eyes fixed on the tv screen watching Multiman multiply.

I am almost certain Mama has laser beams in her eyes, or how else do I explain the two points of searing heat I felt crawling up my back, past my neck to the back of my head where it proceeded to bore two holes?

I turned round and locked eyes with Mama. I quickly looked away, got up off the floor and, with wobbly knees, walked out of the parlour.

Let us just say that after that day, anytime someone knocked at the door, I made a beeline for the room first before returning to answer the door!

And there was this other time, at Christmas, we had gone to visit cousins at Tejuosho. Drinks had been offered, so too meals. Then an Uncle I had not seen in a long time made a present of some money to me, it was a fifty kobo (50k) note. I remember because it was a new crisp note. I thanked him but declined. He offered me again and I cut my eyes quickly across to Mama who carried on talking with my aunt and other uncle. I vehemently shook my head at the offer.

“Is it because of Madam?” He asked looking at Mama, “I am sure she won’t mind.”

“It’s alright,” her lips said, a smile playing there “You can take it.” It was what her eyes said that was more important to me. I accepted the ‘Christmas present’, but the rest of the visit for me was in anticipation of the beating I would get at home; Mama did not disappoint. My offence? I was not convincing enough in my “No”, hence her being dragged into the matter.

Sadly those days are gone, and parenting seems to have gone to the dogs.

I look at my boy, M.O.N.C, and wonder what kind of parent I wil be. I want him to know he is loved, and I want him to learn values, but can I achieve these in today’s world without the rod? And how do I strike a balance if I must apply the rod?

Franque

Franque

"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.

30 comments

  1. Lol, those eyes men. My mother was a teacher for a brief minute. She practiced every new punishment she invented and was going to use at her school on us first. Good times.

    You will be fine with zite. You just have to start early and be consistent in your discipline. O and don’t spare the rod, even the bible tells you that.

  2. hmmm…..dat question again. i’ve always been a strong advocate of sparing d rod, cos dat was d case in our house, growing up and i ãήϑ M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ brothers turned out better 4 it. But these kids of 2day………..hmmmmmmm!! They kinda leave •̸Ϟε̲̣̣̣̥ speechless

  3. Sheedren of nawadayz… SMH. I fink d key to good parenting is balance. Knowing wen to use d rod, wen word of mouth is enough, wen to ignore and so on. Parenting is hard(heart) work! Even parents need to b educated.

  4. LWKMD!!! I have burn marks all over my body from my mother’s eyes I swear. Till this day anytime I’m about to do something ‘improper’ the burn marks sizzle afresh. It’s like one of those super hero tattos that come alive when they sense a need.
    I think there’s something in the water these days that make children impervious to those parenting tactics. SMH!!!

  5. I’m the only one of my mom’s kids who didn’t get beaten cos of health issues & she was scared of putting me in the hospital after a good beating but every punishment imaginable, I served it. Little wonder I’m the shortest among her kids. God knows when I have my kids, they’ll each have their own koboko that will be used on them. No time for rubbish in my home.

    U’ll do fine with Zite, after all u can’t discipline other people’s kids & “protect” ur own. Kids need a little beating every now & then to keep them in line.

  6. Dang those eyes ehn! My mum used 2 be a pro! Even when sm1 offers me sth n she says its okay…fear no go let me! But I never doubted her love. Its all d balance though! D prayer is that we get it right

    N yep, I love ur neighbour’s kids…

  7. I grew up with a grandpa who fought in the war, so a belt was the his weapon of choice, and boy did he leave stripes on my back….the rest is history!

    Mama was worse, just like ur mum Franque, mine had glasses and they were always at the edge of the nose, felt like hot coal on my skin whenever she looked at me!

    I miss those good old days when children listened to their parents unlike now that they kuku challenge them sef…

    Lovely piece Franque, brought back memories

  8. Mehn I feel u on this one o its sad the way the new generation parents are allowing kids to run things. The other day at silverbird I witnessed something that made me choke on my coke. A little boy of about 7 was begging his aunty for popcorn n she proceeded to buy for him only for his mom to drill him one of those looks n the silly child responded with ” ahn ahn mommy y are u looking at me like that abi I should not take?” N I kept thinking kai this kid is dead but nope his mom did nothing just averted her gaze n it was on to the theatre after she bought him the drink to go with the newly acquired bucket of popcorn! If that had been me back in the day I wud have moved in permanently to silverbird o cos parents plus aunty wud have joined forces to kill me!lovely write as always

  9. Franque, your story about Abdullahi had me going, ‘Oh, I’m not alone in this, eh?’ 🙂 Mealtimes with my daughter, many times, are moments of complete exasperation for me. Kai! She’s such a very sweet little girl but when the food comes out, smh, this very stubborn person (wonder where she got that from :D) emerges. I have had to spank her some of those times and felt horrible afterwards particularly when she very sincerely apologises for ‘giving drama’ and without prompting too.
    However, it is a thin line between spanking to correct and letting that red haze of anger and ‘how dare she!’take over. That we all need prayers for cos that line is so easy to cross and suddenly you have a child cowering in fear. Parenting is hard work… Very hard work if you put your back to it.
    It’s very annoying, though, when little kids are left to run the show particulary in public. My daughter is naturally reserved in public so she gets a lot of praise when we’re out. Her brother just follows her cue so we’re really cool in public. The few times she tried to ‘show herself’ 🙂 I discovered that I inherited ‘that’ look.
    Seriously, though, no matter how much you love your children, no matter how much of friends you are with them, your primary relationship is that of a parent and parents do enforce discipline if their children are to turn out alright. Striking a balance and finding what works for each child is very important, though.

  10. Franque strike o! We love how principled you are, if you want your son to experience the same kind of appreciation, you had better apply the same tactics your mum did.

    P.S are we now allowed to know the adorable tot’s first name?

  11. Hey family, what’s good? Today iLearnt that ‘father’ and ‘wood’ in one word sounds “one kain”. My cherub’s wings n halo say different.
    @ ijay: 1st, congrats!
    @ Neefemi: iHear teachers, headteachers and principals made the (worst)best parents. Mama grew up with a teacher who signed off on the white part of a tuber of yam once it had been cut, and measures food items regularly, writin down the qty n cross checkin. Any discrepancy got u propper rappin on the knickles with her ruler – not these lightweight things we carry these days o. The ruler meant RULER;
    @ Moore: Children these days n sparin d rod na wrong combo. Most of them r ‘chairmen’ already. They will ride u lyk a bicycle;
    @ Miz Parker: Here’s my plan: My plan: use the rod till the child turns 12, den alternate rod n tongue till the child turns 16, den just the tongue till d child turns 21. From dat point on, it’s on my knees;
    @ pHisayo: iStill look over my shoulder too. Sometimes iEven freeze in anticipation of the stray slap or ‘konck’, den iRealise “Dude! U r the bawse now!”
    @ Chychy: whyl u may technically be correct in blamin ur parents for ur height (or the lack thereof) iAssure u it had/has nuffink to do with punishment;
    @ Kay: Knowin dat u r loved is important, iThink. Bubu n iAre uber cool, so too Osa. He hears my voice n he races out of his house abandonin everything he’s doin – his 2 brothers followin – all of them chantin Uncle Frankkie, Uncle Frankkie. No, it’s not sweets or chocolates. They get tossed up n caught tho;
    @ SNM: the memories na die. My brain almost short circuited when someone sed she didn’t even kno there was ever 50k note n another friend reminded me how much goodies we could get for 50k back in d day. Old aga haff come n it’s official!
    @ Diva: it’s d audacity to challenge their parents dat leave me gobsmacked. Worse tho is how the parents accept it n try to make excuses for dem. My life!!
    @ Stranger: if dat was Mama (who wouldn’t take u to d movies in d 1st place) Movie over o. It’s from the popcorn stand back to d house;
    @ Olaedo: No one dared ‘show themself’ in public on Mama’s watch. Hian! E no fit happen sef;
    @ Curious Observer: In dat case, lemme go n make a down payment for the cane, cable, belt, omorogun, akaiodo, slippers n write a handbook of punishments per offence for M.O.N.C;
    @ nena: #CougarAlert!
    @ Everyone else: Nxt Friday iWill need help with a technicality. Clue: relationSHEEP Friday

    1. lol! bros nothing so extreme mbok! And if all else fails, “off” teh television, in my experience, na that one dey work pass

  12. First,about abdullah, you saw red,what was that about? I thot it was blood o.
    Secondly,I think you mum is my grandma. She just doesn’t need to say a word;the look in her eyes is an unwritten book. After the first couple of errors I never dared to look at her for confirmation or disapproval when I’m offered anything. It was always a NO! It became known that Bisola never accepted ‘gifts’ from people talk more of eating in someone house when grandma wasn’t eaten.

    Lovely post. The times have definitely changed,I look at my 3 nephews and I tell their parent the kids are spoilt.

    I’m sure Monc will grow into a fine young man with a father like you.

  13. d roddin wey i collect when i was a kid was bloody!kai! After a while in secondary school,choppin cane didnt move me anymore.Made me swear never to flog my kids. I think a tongue lashing is effective dependin on d age though.

  14. The Look!!! I think all mothers inherit that ability. The last time my mum beat me, I think I was 5. But up till my teenage years and even thereafter, all she needed to say was ‘I will soon buy cane’… Immediately, u go arrange.
    For kids these days, its another story. My lil cuz (she was 6 at the time) tore my sis’ iphone pouch. Her reason? She wanted to see the phone properly. My sis of course was upset and said ‘ do you know how much it costs?’ With a look that said ‘I dunno y u r shouting’ she told my sis ‘my daddy will buy u another one’.
    The line is a difficult one but every parent has the ability to know when he/she is about to cross it. But wen u use a cane, shout or punish, u must explain why.
    P.s. Franque, now that uv pointed it out, Father n Wood together sound…

  15. Gradually becoming a commentator *Fist pumps*

    Nna mehn,i was one stubborn child who wouldn’t shut up when i was younger o so i definitely know the look. Even now as an adult,i still look over my shoulder when i’m doing something mama wouldn’t approve of. Back then, Apart from God, the fear of mum was (still is) the beginning of wisdom. These days though it’s more of the fear of disappointng the folks = the beginning of freedom. lol. I never once in my life feel not loved though,and my mum is still the queen of my heart. 🙂

  16. LOVED reading this and I’m happy I’m not the only one that thinks kids are calling the shots too much these days. Unable to control their hissy fits, buying them EVERYTHING they ask for, giving them stern looks and idle threats AFTER they misbehave…I could go on. Just like you said, all it took was a stare from our mothers and whatever we were THINKING was nipped in the bud. Hell, I couldn’t even grumble in my mother’s presence, I had to wait till she was out of earshot and out of sight before I could do my stomping and pouting but now, kids have full-on arguments with their parents. God help us.
    Beautiful read coz.

  17. I love this post. The only thing that upsets me more than an unruly child is a parent that can’t control that child. Pisses me off…I live in the UK and I see it all around me and it’s horrible, but the worst bit is when I go home to Nigeria and see the same thing. What has happened to the Nigerian way of parenting?..

  18. @ Curious Observer: iHear u bros;
    @ Uk: iLove that u read them too;
    @ MaBijo: If u’v ever been really angry, red is the colour u’ll see;
    @ qhaycee: see my ‘discipline template’ above;
    @ nengie: iWill pretend not to notice u n qhaycee playin ‘follow’ on the comments section;
    @ Lorlah: glad u like;
    @ Mercy: Was wonderin when iWill read ur comments again. Thanx for makin it so soon. And dat line #Classic;
    @ M.E: iWill remind u of this in a few years, iPromise;
    @ Phaitha: Nigerian parentin has gone Western, and as with all things ‘cut n paste’ by Nigerians, we r on the verge of ‘overdo’ becos we don’t even understand d concept;
    @ Jazz: iAm confused. U want a MONC of ur own? Or u want THIS MONC?

  19. I still have marks that testify to my stories…some of them have gone overtime, but the more important part of the story is that she, who I thought hated me then, happens to be my best friend now. It doesnt have to make sense now to Zite, later on, it will. I am sure you will do right by him. I love that for once you never mentioned buddylizing the role of parents….it is pathetic how almost everything which used to hold up the structure of parenting has been demolished.
    It It seems you have the part down with the neighbor’s kids so it wont be much different with Zite.

  20. Spare the rod and spoil a child, I’m a strong believer in spanking… I too wish that I don’t fail my daughter by not Showing her right from wrong because of todays views on proper disapline… (I’ve never been spanked, just had the eye thing too)

  21. As a child, my father’s eye-control sent cold waves down my spine, my mother’s own was to turn her face away and pull her shoulders in, trust me that was sign of trouble on getting home and men! would she go @ U with her scalding tongue and if she held onto your ear,OMO! for d next two days a buzz will still ring in them and on d third day, d feeling may return therein. The day my nephew formed “not eating” for me, I placed him on my laps and spanked his tiny behind and as he opened his mouth to cry, I held his nose and put d cereal in his mouth. Of cos, he finished d whole cup. Full-bellied lad slept off 5mins later and when he awoke, iWas his favorite Aunt again. My pikins go enjoy me cos both “eye-control”, tongue and hand shall not hesitate to function when d need arises.

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