Holidays are given to school children to allow them have a breather from hectic academic work, relax their brains, enjoy and generally have innocent, creative fun. Children look forward to holidays, particularly the long vacation. Since the last week of July or thereabout, both private and public schools have been on the long vacation, which will run till the middle of September.
The long vacation provides parents a useful opportunity for great deals with their children. Not the business type of deal though, but character and career pact. It is not a period to get irritated and frown at the children, and regret their presence at home. Their youthful exuberance will not last for eternity. I was shocked when I heard a neighbour scream at her eight-year-old son and hissed, “I cannot wait for school to resume.” Hearing that was not palatable at all. I was left wondering whether school had become a dumping ground for children.
The clear impression was that the child’s mum preferred to have her son spend just few hours with her while the child would battle it out with his teachers in school. That kind of thought can only have one terrible consequence: it can destroy the relationship between mother and son. The child might begin to think that his family does not love him, and begin to believe that the teachers, who endure his rambunctious nature, tickle and tease him and available to attend to his myriad of questions love him more than his parents.
Agreed, children could be as naughty as anything when growing up, but such naughty behaviour if not appropriately dealt with and discouraged, it would remain, get worse and grow with them into adolescence and adulthood, and possibly reflect badly in their marriage. While shouting and wanting them to be perfect immediately, let us not forget that the headmaster was once a pupil. Certainly, bad behaviour should not be tolerated, but parents need to realize that choking the children with hard and stringent measures might not be the best after all. Some of the character traits that children exhibit are not necessarily evil, but something associated with age and youthful exuberance coupled with the effects of social media.
The retired chief executive of a blue-chip company once told me in an interview how he and his school mates used to sneak out of the school by jumping over the fence in their secondary school days. You cannot but appreciate some of these pranks when they are played with intelligence and uprightness. He said, “I do not like to say what we did in our secondary school days because I do not want my children to do so. It was in the 60s; we used to jump over the fence, change into mufti provided by day-students, to go to parties and toast girls from other schools here in Lagos. But I must tell you, academic excellence stood us apart. It was for our excellent result that our Irish principal did not rusticate us from school then. I passed out of the school with distinction and scholarship to study in England immediately. Playing pranks did not distract us from studies at all, rather that was a way to prove we were getting mature and could take decisions on our own. It was healthy in our days, but today, reports have revealed that other unacceptable things like robbery, cultism, and cybercrime have corrupted the system and destroyed such beautiful moments.
A cousin of mine who proved very difficult to mould as a teacher’s son, screams at his children today when they replicate what he did in his days. Back then, his parents would get tired of looking around for him during visiting days. He would be playing ball and would not leave the field until the match was over because he believed that his opponents would win the match, if he left the field before the end of the match. So, while his parents waited in frustration, he would be in the field for about 90-minutes before coming to meet with them. You could well imagine the depth of his parents’ anger, seeming left in limbo, while they were already getting ready to go after sharing pleasant moments with their own children.
Parents who schooled in rural communities also played pranks, ranging from expeditions in the bush in search of unripe native fruits during holidays to throwing stones unnecessarily at strict teachers, and molesting them were all the brainchild of some of today’s parents.
There were so many parents who were not academically sound. Many smoked marijuana and sampled other drugs. Some were into hide-and-seek love games; while some other led to positive outcomes, some only produced tales of woe. What about careless and carefree parents? Today’s parents also behaved badly, in one way or the other; they gossip in various degrees. Some pilfered their schoolmates’ things, yet they outgrew those practices and changed with age, prayer and environment.
Today, every parent wants an instant perfect son and daughter without going the process of hard work in raising them. Well, some are lucky while others are not. When the children are not getting straightened in strong character and academics, what should be the solution as parents? Should they go into comparison node with his or her peers? Condemnation spree, shouting match, raising voices and going physical at times can be useful. Let us know that life and time change. Destinies, authorities, management, ideas and handling of issues all differ and again, anything and everything is possible in life.
There is a very big need to create awareness, strict moral instructions, reading about successful people, showing positivities and the greatest, the power and place of prayers in a teenager’s life.
Yes. It is a long holiday, what about travelling to meet grandparents in their various locations, who by my standard are almost correct in most of their decisions. I might be right or wrong. They have this magic finger of fixing erring children. To those who still have aged parents in the village, the long vacation is an opportunity to learn and master the local dialect and gain true identity. When most children travel for the yuletide, they are carried away with the real life and some find it difficult to return to the city. Why would they not visit places of interest? Places like museums, art gallery, airport, corporate offices of the major conglomerates. Such visits make the holiday period very interesting.
Parents might be surprised that some of these inconsequential places could be turning point in the lives of the children. Enjoyment is not necessarily when money is involved in all what we do. When we visit and discover all the newly established eateries to have a taste of their pudding or embark on extravagant visits, we might not get the real enjoyment. There are so many things we take for granted or overlook, not knowing the children value them in their own capacity.
A colleague who was transferred from the North settled down here to work. During the vacation, his family visited him. He took them in a chartered tricycle popularly known as Keke Marwa to the nearest Shoprite where they all had fun as holidaymakers. The next time they wanted to go out to a farther distance as a family with an Uber taxi, the children protested strongly and said they preferred going out with the tricycle they rode in the previous day and enjoyed, instead of taking the Uber taxi. The Keke ride obviously was what gladdened their heart and made them happy. Holiday is for enjoyment. So, look for their type of enjoyment and use it to tease and tickle them. As you scream and shout at them, please also remember that you were not a saint at their age. Now, that you are a parent, tread softly and discover the true person of your child.