Just the two of them

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Adventures in school run: Been there, done that
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Adventures in school run: Prayo
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Adventures in school run: At the last minute
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A breather, please.
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Two words
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An unusual collection
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A prick in the bubble of fun
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The good, the loud, and the questions…of the holidays
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No school? No problem.
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Adventures in school run

Adventures in school run: Been there, done that

Good morning…let the stress begin… Enter the jaws of hell that is school run… The mad dash of crazy that has to be condensed into 10 minutes of sheer hell… Some downright brutal descriptions of that mundane activity parents/guardians engage in on school days. I’m in that camp as well (not the extreme descriptions) and think those 10 minutes can be as unpredictable as a Nigerian politician. Here are my stories. Three mothers from the children’s school have formed a walking club. I saw them this morning, decked out in workout amour and footwear, headphones in place and walking briskly in tune with one another and their music. Apparently, they begin immediately after they drop their wards off, traipsing round the estate in which the school is situated. For two years, my routine was inextricably tied to morning school run. Scratch that. Like the women above, it began after morning school run. Five days a week, I’d make the 15- minute walk back home (come rain or shine) as I listened to the radio, basking in the cool morning haze as the sun was just beginning to lend some of its tender early rays. It never felt like exercise. No huffing. No puffing. No sweating. Just another way to indulge in my own company and clear my head, unconsciously getting a workout in the process. I was getting two for one – alone time and regular exercise. (It was reminiscent of another walking habit developed during my time in the corporate world, about a decade ago. For 30 minutes every evening after work, I walked off baby fat lodged, unbudgingly and bulgingly, in my midriff. The nearest bus-stop from the office was half an hour away on foot and after whining about it for a month or so, I stopped begrudging the distance, hitching a ride or going commercial-vehicle style; instead I walked off the weight and the distance. Initially, it was brisk strides in the early evening’s soothing weather; then my steps acquired a leisurely spring to them as I unburdened the stress of the day and reveled in”more

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Adventures in school run: Prayo

Before Pumpkin, school run was a breeze with T. She loves school. She is the child equivalent of the workaholic; Monday is her favourite day of the week. Before Pumpkin, we were driven to school by any of the men in our lives – my beau, my brother or a taxi man. Even days when unforeseen circumstances occurred – the car just won’t start, the taximan’s blatantly lying about his location and making us late – and we had to walk to recruit alternative transportation, T. took it in her stride. She was a happy girl, willing to go the distance to achieve an expected end – school. Then her brother became of school – going age, and that seemingly mundane activity turned into a whole kettle of fish altogether. Unlike his sister, Pumpkin sees formal education as a complete inconvenience. Going to school doesn’t quite fit into his life’s plan when there are cartoons waiting to be seen and all – day lounging to do. But he goes anyway because, well, he doesn’t have a choice. He’d be all smiles and happy at home, and even during the trip to school. Immediately the school gates came into view, he’d shut his eyes and that’s when the bawling began. Harrowing times, those were. (And to think his very first day of school saw him all excited and cheerful, talking non-stop with his teacher, welcoming his classmates and even assigning sitting places to them, playing assistant teacher. Any misgivings I had about his attitude towards school were dispelled. Back then I had thought he’d take to school like fish to water.) And no stretch of petting, consoling from me or his teachers stopped the flood of baby tears. Anywhere but school and they would have been dammed speedily; but as long as he was within the confines of those walls of learning, replete with teachers and rules, he teared up piteously. The sight of him crying miserably, desperately, rent my heart which subsequently hardened as I handed him over to his teacher. Crying would help expand his lungs, I thought; something”more

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Adventures in school run: At the last minute

Good morning…let the stress begin… Enter the jaws of hell that is school run… The mad dash of crazy that has to be condensed into 10 minutes of sheer hell… Some downright brutal descriptions of that mundane activity parents/guardians engage in on school days. I’m in that camp as well (not the extreme descriptions) and think those 10 minutes can be as unpredictable as a Nigerian politician. Here are my stories.       The familiar scraping sound of metal sliding on a hinge greeted me as I flew through the front door, hands laden with my morning paraphernalia – a handbag, a laptop bag, high heeled shoes and my cell on speaker, blaring the news analysis. Somehow, I managed to secure the front door’s lock and join the bickering twosome by the car. “It’s my turn,” declared T, firmly, screwing up her face to match her tone. “No, it’s mine!” shouted her little brother, Pumpkin, rather rudely. “Enough!” I interjected as I cascaded my bundle onto the passenger’s seat before turning my full attention to them. It was a miracle the door was still functioning and in perfect shape. This exact drama played out every morning before we left the house – whose turn it was to open or shut the only door of the car which slides. This coming on the heels of their excitement over the car when it arrived some months back; it was a spacious, elevated machine akin to a moving house. Think trailer. Or room and parlour, as a friend referred to it. And I thought the situation had been resolved. Hadn’t we all come to an agreement, a mere three days ago, that one person would open the door and the other would see it shut? Of course, in their wonderful children mentality, everything goes awry in the absence of an adult. When the cat is away, the mice come out to play and scream. “Both of you get in.” I commanded crisply. “Backs on the chairs and seatbelts. I’ll close the door!” So much for instructing them to get settled in five”more

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A breather, please.

Sometimes parenting can be overwhelming. So today, I gave the children toasted bread sandwiches with eggs and smoked fish filling to school as lunch, and some baked beans. Alu! A meal I’d never have contemplated as school lunch for them in my wildest imaginations. Especially when my house is still stocked with other healthy food options – potatoes, rice, plantains, yams, sauces, etc. Or proper food like they’ve known me to refer to them. But their scream of delight, when I agreed to this outrageous suggestion the day before during school run, overwhelmed any guilt I felt for the food choice. The first time I consented to pancakes as packed lunches, I got more kisses in appreciation that morning than I had received in three months. It made the gesture worth every heat and posture it took to prepare and have them packed early that morning. Even the minuscule nagging guilt at the back of my mind didn’t get an ounce of my undivided attention. Because sometimes parenting can be overwhelming, and one day lived outside the best laid plans wouldn’t have long – term effects, would result in absolutely thrilled children, and doesn’t imply I’m a bad mother. Time was when I frowned at what their school mates had for lunch – bread & tea, bread & beans, bread & stew, noodles everyday….Judgmental me took over. What sort of mother gave this diet to her child? Didn’t she have time enough to devise and execute a proper meal plan? Or was she too busy or didn’t particularly care as long as her child ate something, anything that could be classified as food? They say you can’t fully comprehend a person’s situation until you’ve walked in their shoes. And not too long ago, I found my size in those shoes and it wasn’t a bad fit at all. I became that sort of mother. The exact same one I just castigated caustically a paragraph ago. Now I understood what sort of mother she was; the one who realized before I did that deviating from the goal of achieving super parent status is”more

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Two words

Wake up. Don’t stop. Keep out. A fervent fan of the series, Criminal Minds, she just finished seeing the first episode of season 12. The abduction, torture and rescue of Emily Prentis – the head of the BAU team- had made for a riveting, edge – of – seat viewing. According to Prentis, two words helped keep her sanity during the entire ordeal. Wheels up. A phrase commonly spoken when the team had to fly out to a location to solve a case. For Prentis, it meant the search to rescue her was underway. How reassuring. If only the two – worded phrase she dreaded hearing each time had the same effect on her. Alas, they were anything but, leaving her in suspense mode instead. Not yet. Ever since her six-year-old learnt the twin terms, they have been his de facto arsenal. Albeit temporarily. ‘Are you ready to eat?’ ‘Not yet.’    ‘Time for your bath.’ ‘Mummy, please. Not yet.’    ‘TV’s over. Sleep time.’ ‘Not yet, naaaaaaaaaaaaahhh.’ The phrase in itself didn’t rattle her; it was the situation in which its use had the utmost effect – during meal times. Her son could deploy it for hours unending, as long as the components of the dish included healthy, food – chain elements. It never surfaced when desserts were involved. 1.30pm: Not yet 2.30pm: Not yet, mummy. 4.00pm: Not yet By which time, she’d be listening more to her intuition than the words he was uttering. That’s when she’d compel him to eat something, anything under her vigilant scrutiny. But an article she read, written by an entrepreneur, described the two words as thoughtful as opposed to a hard “no.” It’s not just a tool for delaying a decision – far from it. Instead, it’s leaving the door open a crack, and leaving time for people and opportunities to mature, the article expanded. While she agreed with the writer’s line of thought in the business context he used for numerous examples, she had no doubt in her mind that her son’s “not yet” was hardly ever going to open the door”more

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An unusual collection

Concern furrowed Twani’s mum’s brows when she first noticed her daughter’s fascination with birth dates. Hers. Her brother’s. Her parents’. Her cousins’. Her classmates’. Her friends’. ‘March 18 is Lily’s birthday.’ The 10-year-old girl would announce suddenly, out of nowhere; oftentimes in the middle of a totally unrelated conversation. Then she’d proceed to list out subsequent birth dates of family and friends she was aware of in that same month. To her mum’s dismay, she’d repeat the same process once a new month rolled in. Was the allure of a possible party pack, looming in the horizon, the reason for her daughter’s fixation on birth dates? Her mum wondered. Or a piece of fluffy, cake with dripping icing? Twani’s mum’s concern was quickly replaced with worry when the little girl mentioned a classmate’s brother’s birthdate and remembered her hairdresser’s sister’s daughter’s as well! What the…?! Increasingly, when Twani met a peer or a younger child for the first time, the very next question after ‘What is your name?’ was ‘When is your birthday?’ Her mother didn’t fancy the power a party pack had over her offspring; it seemed like it was making her obsessed with birth dates. On second thoughts, she didn’t think this would extend to new playmates with whom there was little chance of meeting up again; let alone be invited to their birthdays. In a play park once, she made an offhand remark of Twani going around amassing birth dates after the little girl had just extracted three of such from newly – found playmates. However, it was nothing she’d joke about;unless there was more to it than met the eye. Agreed, she hadn’t expected her daughter to be a collector of rare stamps, Instagram followers, first edition books or typewriters but…birth dates? Who collected them, for goodness’ sake?! And why?! What was the motivation to accumulate and treasure these as a potential collection? It was unlikely to happen upon a rare birthdate, for instance. Perhaps February 29 comes close but even then… Did they afford her an unusual high especially when the promise of that party”more

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A prick in the bubble of fun

Forgive me if my posts are far and few in between this month. And when they do appear are either focused on children – who happen to be front, back and centre of my vision right now – or the book I have just barely managed to finish. These days two things occupy my time – children and their needs. And more of both. So, bear with me a while; the holidays would be over soon and trust me, my whoop of delight will resound louder than anyone else’s. Now to the thrust of this post. Gone were the bubbly, happy – go – lucky trio who marched purposefully into the hospital few hours earlier. A solemn trio aptly describes the children who emerge from the clinic’s swinging doors, numbed by pain, shocked silent at the turn of events the fourth child among them was In the middle of endless holiday fun, one of them (my niece) broke out in bright red, itchy rash. On her arms. Her legs. Spread on her back. Sprinkled across her chest and belly. Her smooth, light – coloured skin was suddenly riddled with them as though they expressed some sort of rage. Measles? Chicken pox? These were no bites from flying or creeping bugs. And these could be infectious; there were three other children in the house to consider. Let’s not include the adults who might not have caught any of these once -in -a – lifetime ailments. An unlikely place to find ourselves during the holidays was our first port of call early this next day – the hospital. Initially, of the four of them, only one – the affected one – looked sober, reflective, quiet. Unsure of what this visit entailed for her – injection? Medicine? Quarantine? Made even more uncomfortable by the three others who were noisy and happy, swapping two ipads amongst them and making children chatter just few yards away from her. All of which changed dramatically, unexpectedly after the doctor assessed their situations. The affliction was chicken pox all right and had been incubating in my niece for”more

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The good, the loud, and the questions…of the holidays

  By now, I’d have gone off the rails. Screaming every other five minutes. Disciplining for the next five. A threat hanging dangerously on the tip of my tongue or silencing with a look that shouted volumes. But no, I still have my wits around me; my sanity’s intact too. Except for bone – tiredness at the end of each day, all is going swimmingly in my world. Stick with me, please. There’s a method to my scribbling madness. Or is it a message? A moral? Perhaps, just a plain ol’ rant. Whatever. There’s something to be said (or rather written) here, and I’d make it crystal in a minute or two…   Arm cardio Back in the university, a friend of mine, Biggie, could churn out (quite effortlessly) food enough for eight of us in our cramped hostel room. She never broke a sweat while at it and even had leftovers for later. I’d stare at her in awe. Cooking like this in school? In less than ideal kitchen conditions? For more than two people no less? She was my culinary hero then. Biggie was the first girl in six children. Catering for eight people was routine – a skill she had grown up with. Now that she has about five offspring of her own, that ability would not go to waste. And I’m certain it would be handed down her generation. It might even become a family tradition.   Packed to the Rafters…almost For a week and a day, I have been in Biggy’s shoes – cooking up a storm, creating meals more than twice the amount I’m accustomed to. Unlike Biggy, I’m yet to take it in my stride. The pain shooting up my arms and down my spine confirm that. I may have come from a large family but never catered to more than five persons at a time; thankfully, it was rare for all my nine siblings to be present at home all at once unless on festive days. 20 years later and trying to fit into Biggy’s shoes is hardly the best time to”more

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No school? No problem.

The long vacation. That’s what we called it back then. Almost three months of no school, no homework, no early rising. Pure, unadulterated fun. Now it is referred to as the Summer Holidays. In Nigeria?! Where half of the year the sun’s blazing down blisteringly and during the ‘Summer Holidays’, it’s wet, wet, wet which it right about now and has been for a while. And like some parents, I used to dread the advent of the school holidays. Long ones. Short ones. They were all the same to me – no school for the children. No more peace in the house. How do I engage these ever – active, ever- active, no – siesta little humans while ensuring I had time to work, to think, to plan, to live…? Going to school, I believe, is not only a place where they learn but also another safe area to play, meet friends, eat and indulge in peer activities. Another definition of school fees is a stipend paid to keep my children away from me while I work and sort out life’s issues…and breath too in their absence. Don’t get me wrong. I love my little recruits and want them around me…but not all the time. Being apart allows us appreciate one another more, gives us fodder for conversation and bonding, and makes me, in particular, treasure our time together before we go our separate ways again come daylight. The long holidays are here. Going our separate ways in the mornings happen only on Sundays now in church for less than two hours. There are six whole days, after that, to deal with. The old me would have panic attacks at the prospect, especially when there is no ‘Summer School’ to the rescue. The new me, years ago, stopped ‘Summer School’ for the children and created an arrangement that, with a little tweaking, has been working for us during the holidays. Of course, there’s always travel scheduled but 2 – 3 weeks is all we indulge in towards the end of the holidays. Before then, we have other activities keeping everyone”more

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Adventures in school run

Another academic year came to an end last week. I’m not sure if I should be relieved or upset. Would I miss the daily movement that is school run, as well as everything else surrounding it? While it’s not a chore I dislike, I certainly do not eagerly look forward to carrying it out either.  The morning ride fits right into my schedule of early rising and workout routine. In fact, before I started driving the children to school, the return trip was a form of exercise; a brisk 15 – 20 minute walk. Not anymore though. Shaun T. has replaced that with a more , vigorous, all – encompassing one. I suppose I’m pondering about this at this particular time because looming ahead is, at least , an eight-week hiatus from daily mornings and afternoons school runs. The long holidays are here again , and the children are understandably ecstatic. School has suddenly become a distant memory until whenever. Nevertheless, the school run routine will always constitute part of the school year. This was no different, bringing adventures and fun along.           Too many screens, not enough time With all the screens available to children these days, I believe riding in a car should entail observing the passing scenery and learning about life. But no, my beau just had to install one more screen in my car and filled it with educational programs and games. For the period it caught the children’s fancy, I realized I had to upgrade my multitasking skills. Driving and yelling at them to play it in turns for how ever many minutes I allotted each child was certainly not one of my strong points. Boy, was I relieved when the battery of the control ran out. Not replacing it any time soon, and that screen always obstructed my rear view of the road, anyway. So girl, bye! The alternative? An audio CD of the story of the little mermaids (and other stories) that has won the hearts of both of them – they are repeating the words with the narrator”more

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