Wednesday, 27 July 2011

MUSINGS OF A FATHER TO BE

Sometime ago while I was hanging out with the guys, the funny topic of family came up and the most discussed question was what type of fathers we would make. One guy is petrified by fatherhood responsibilities for reasons best known to him. He calls it fatherhood-phobia. The other would like to sire a whole basketball team, and perhaps add a few substitutes to the number due to his love for children. We are talking figures of seven to eight children here. I wonder what kind of modern woman would bear such a load.

Talking of child bearing women, I hear that in Malawi, unless the woman is short and comparable to a round-about, suitors there will hardly ever look her way. Apparently, they take this body shape as a sign of fertility and a qualification for the child bearing ‘job’. I am thinking of adding ‘visiting a Malawian homestead to see a mother and her battery of daughters ready for marriage’ to my bucket list for the sole purpose of comic relief.

This fatherhood talk got me thinking. While I indeed look forward to being a father later on in life, I have questions about how my progeny might turn out. Will they be disciplined, ambitious, hardworking or downright lazy and lackadaisically drawled? Will they be polite and well mannered, or just spoilt, rude and care free? Will they be brilliant, outstanding in everything that they do, or just dull and dumb? Dull and dumb children: now that there is a really bad outcome.

All fathers want the best from and for their children. By fathers here, I mean the responsible man who is there for his family: to provide materially, emotionally and to give security. Modern science shows that parents can influence what their children grow to become. This is due to the fact that their brains are malleable, an empty slate perhaps: equipped only with the basic framework for survival. It has been proven that the work of molding this brain into genius lies more on the environment that the child is brought up in and is influenced by the child’s genetic framework. Parents can therefore bring up a child into what will suit the child best to pursue their life’s choices. So I made a plan.

I want my kids to be brain smart. It does not mean that I will buy them a full volume of encyclopedias on life’s basics and some miniature spectacles as daddy’s gift for ‘the first time they open their eyes’ much as my imagination has contemplated this option. No way. I will closely follow up with their mental growth though. Read them at least a book a day as they graduate to toddler and to child, trigger their curiosity by all means. And when they get to the ‘read on their own’ stage, I will ensure that their bookshelf is well stocked with varied material. I will also liaise with mum to censor the media influence. This is to by all means prevent those awkward moments when baby might ask ‘daddy, je una yako?’, or a flabbergasting sight as one I witnessed the other day, a five year old boy in the matatu sitted comfortably on her mother’s lap blissfully singing ‘bibi yangu: KIGEUGEU!’ I have nothing against the song, but in the context of such a spectacle…

Secondly, I would like my kids to be exposed to all positive things that they may choose to follow and that could shape their careers. This translates to me buying the necessary toys, from lego sets, miniature cars, a few rug dolls, to musical instruments, a chess board, baby laptops, and plenty of writing, painting and drawing material for baby. Of course, NO gun toys are included here. I do not wish to breed a ‘Matheri-incarnate’, the gangster whose life the trigger-happy Kenya police halted by sending an avalanche of bullets in his direction. With regard to the police, I agree with some comedian in proposing that the tax on bullets be exaggeratedly hiked and Kiraithe’s ‘mboys’ be coerced to individually procure them to bring numbers of innocent by standers to a desired minimum.

Back to the plan, I would also like to bring up emotionally intelligent individuals. As opposed to being a brainiac which is manifested by completing tasks in most efficient ways, emotional intelligence is based on social aspects encompassing courtesy, taking one’s responsibilities and knowing the best ways to interact with others. Emotionally unintelligent people seldom say phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’ and constantly over react instead of being objective to confrontations. In extremes of pressure, they will let others catch Bruno Mars’ grenade save the pin which they neatly tuck in their palms and briskly walk to cover. Constant interaction with mother and me as role models and other well behaved kids should help baby be a sociable and dependable character in future. And mother will tune the house help to this effect.

Lastly, I want healthy kids. All around, an increasing number of kids are real-life paragons of the consequences of unhealthy eating. As the president of my house hold, I am not going to foster this. I will ensure that the ministry of motherhood and internal affairs is well financed and stocked with nutritious edibles for the little hungry citizens. The CDF will go into ensuring that the Compound is friendly for outdoor games. I will go out of my way to provide sporting equipment to keep the young ones running in their free time. I will enact a law restricting computer games from citizens below a certain age and up to certain times. Finally, I may impose a penalty to be slapped on citizens found lounging at ‘off hours’. A few extra hours manicuring the garden, perhaps a hand in house cleaning, or sometime in the kitchen peeling potatoes should adequately serve to clarify to them the need to abstain from being couch potatoes.

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