“Can we come with you?”

“Daddy, where are you going?”

I am smart enough to know how to answer such questions. She had just woken up and seeing me in my trousers and undershirt was indicating I was planning to go out. Two and a half hours earlier, we were having lunch at the dining and she heard her mum and I disagree on whether they would come with us or not. It wasn’t a conversation we wanted her to be part of but I knew she had ears like a bat, she hears things too big for her ears. Anyway, wifey wanted them to join us but I didn’t. And it was subtly settled we were going without them. They had finished their meal and, as custom, went to their room for siesta.

“Daddy, where are you going?” As if I didn’t hear the first time.

“Out.” Emphatic. End of discussion.

There was no further question. She was also smart enough to know when I gave such an answer it was to cut out further queries.

I went back to the room.

Nadal was dealing a hard blow on Wawrinka. So much for all the hype and expectation for this final. Just couldn’t figure how Stan would crumble like that. I mean, he was 100% at all GS Finals. We were expecting a meal of a match but he was already two sets and a break down. There was no come back in this one. I watched a little more as he struggled to hold serve.

Bang Bang Bang!!

It was a startling rap on the door. My daughter doesn’t know how to knock gently.

“Who is there?”

“It’s me.”

“Yes? What do you want?”

“Please can we follow you to Tom’s house?”

“No, you can’t.” Emphatic. End of discussion.

In a split second I knew what had happened. I could almost see like a movie what had played out. And it was completely upsetting. The same question she had asked me a while back, my daughter had gone to ask her mum.

“Where are you going with daddy?”

 “Tom’s house.”

“Can we come with you?”

“Go and ask your daddy.” And that instruction had the tone, ‘I could approve but your father wouldn’t.’

It was in that energy she came straight to the room and banged the door. It wasn’t too difficult to figure.

My grouse was, why would she play me like that?

Anyways, I dismissed Princess and she went back to the living room to sulk. I was out a few minutes later. Wawrinka lost the game and it was apparent he was going to lose the 3rd set and eventually lose the match. So much for wanting an epic final.

I picked up the car keys.

“Are you set?”

“Yes, please.”

Tears were already running down Princess’s face and she romped around the living area like a restless rabbit. It didn’t wash. I opened the door and was gone like last week’s pay.

The time was supposed to be a my-wife-and-I moment and it was already being soiled, alongside my mood, by Princess and wifey. It’s not every outing they have to tag along. Come on!

“Why did you play me like that?” I couldn’t wait for her to settle in. I strapped on my seatbelt and started the car. “That was presenting me like the bad guy who wouldn’t allow her come with us.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know you told her we were going to Tom’s and I know you also told her to come and ask me if they could come along.”

Silence.

“Wait a minute,” I studied her face, “why are you looking like someone ate your puff-puff?”

She twiddled with her phone.

“But we already discussed this and we concluded we were going alone, why would you fall for her oddities like that?”

“She was harassing me and I didn’t know how to dismiss her. I didn’t think it would cut you the wrong way. I just wanted…”

“You wanted me to be the fall guy,” I cut in, “the one who always gives No, the one who stops them from catching fun. And you? Mummy Nice?”

“Haba! Se o le to yen ni? Is it that serious?”

“Of course! O le ju yen lo! It’s not fair at all. And you shouldn’t be seen indulging.”

“Sorry.”

“Children steal. And that’s including ours.”

“Here we go! Do I need to get pen and paper?”

“Iwo lo mo, na you sabi.”

“Go on, I’m listening.”

I don’t mean they are stealing your money, or stuff from the kitchen or the fridge. I do not mean they are stealing your jewelries and props. As much as those are bad in themselves, they could be stealing other things, intangible, that you and I may not be aware of.

Children will always be children; needy, begging, and craving for attention. But care must be taken that they don’t rob you of what you and your spouse share.

This may be pretty difficult but if you do not strike a balance they could rob and leave your relationship destitute. Balance is key. From the day your child is born, your work as a father or mother commences. Your schedule is disrupted, your sleep is scattered and your priorities automatically readjust themselves. It is normal, it is practical. I mean they did not ask to be born, you were the ones that did the mating and called them forth. You must be willing, therefore, to nurture and provide for their needs. As a result, many times you are obligated to place their needs above yours.

Your care and provision makes them dependent on you for everything they need. They become attached and you become the answer to all their cries and wants. It is expected. And you bet, children are skillful marketers. Ask the mother who took her daughter to the supermarket and the girl saw a dress she liked but was not in the mother’s budget. A scene I witnessed some time back. What did she do? She threw herself on the floor and started wailing. She caused a scene in the supermarket that day to the point where the shop owners were begging the mother to buy the dress, ‘it’s not that expensive…she’s just a little girl…bla bla bla.’  She bought the dress. End of story.

All that cry was marketing gimmick! And the mother fell for it. And I bet you, it was registered in that little girl’s subconscious that day that the next time she needs to get anything from her mother, that she may not be willing to give, crying and creating an embarrassing scene would work. It’s the age. They market their wishes by whining and throwing tantrums, they bewitch through tears and plenty crying.

But I digressed.

Be careful they don’t steal your bonding moments. Watch out for them when they make demands that could perforate your friendship. Don’t fall for those marketing tears when they are not having their way. Don’t let them steal your companionship and your alone time.

Make them knock before entering your room. Make them learn to wait before barging in. Cut their excesses when they poke their nose and interject your conversations rudely. Send them in to do other stuff if the movie showing on TV is just for you two, you don’t always have to change the channel because they are there. Check with your spouse before granting their wish (nine out of ten times they have gotten a No from your partner before coming to you) They would play you and then go and laugh it off in their rooms. Their style of theft is subtle. They could unconsciously chip away the very fabrics your relationship was built upon. Guard jealously your alone times. Be protective of your private moments.

You should remember that when they eventually leave home, either for school or other long term ambitions, you and your spouse do not want to be strangers living under the same roof.

“Hmmn, so they stole from us today, after all.”

“No they didn’t. We left without them.”

“Yes they did. Ten long minutes we could have used to share other gist and gossip, you spent it like you were in a classroom lecturing.”

“Touche.”

 

 

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Written by juwonodutayo

Writer. Tutor. Speaker. Blogger. Roger Federer Fan.

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