Aunt Nikki* called out to me as I walked past her shop. I was hoping she won’t see me as I walked past, but alas I wasn’t so lucky. She spotted and called out to me.
I summoned up my trademark smile and turned to her. “Kaa Aunty.” (Good evening aunty) I greeted her.
“Chinma imelagi?” (Chinma how are you?) She asked in response.
“Adim mma. I lua le?” (I’m fine, are you back?) I asked her. I asked her referring to the trip I knew she had taken recently.
“Alua lem. Mommy gi a?” (I’m fine. How is your mom?) She responded and asked.
On and on the conversation went. When I finally continued my journey, a thought occurred to me: I had become my mother!
My mother is the strongest woman I’ve met, just by being, she challenges me to be better. Let’s not even get into her beauty; my sister and I have concluded our family’s beauty is one that gets better with age. That’s the only way to get through the ‘your mom is more beautiful than you’ comments. I love and admire my mom very much, so much that I love it when people say I’m just like her. But I don’t want to be ‘all of her’. There’s some of her character I would rather do without. Top of my mind is the ‘Nigerian’ greeting culture.
The greeting/ conversation with Aunt Nikki that just happened, was exactly how my mom would have greeted her. And if I were with my mom at the time (or maybe a few years earlier) I would have said a simple ‘good evening’ and walked ahead a few paces to wait for my mom and aunt Nikki to ask about everything and everyone while silently wondering why they couldn’t just say a quick good evening and walk away.
But here I am, replicating that same behavior I would love to not do. I imagine a lot of young adults are in my shoes, wondering how we got to replicate behavioral patterns we dislike. Some of us have come to realise that the world isn’t so black and white and issues aren’t so clear cut. The clarity of our childhood and youth has been eroded by this adult thingy and we are on our way to being our parents, guardians, teachers, mentors.
I have used an example that’s easy, almost a non-issue, but when you really examine every other of your behaviors and mannerisms, you will find yourself replicating your parents or the people you associate with. In the good and the bad. That’s how issues like polygamy, domestic violence, lawlessness, drunkenness, etc. become family traditions. A child will do what he/she sees you do a hundred times befre he/she will do what you have asked him to do once. In the words of Dr. Gregory House of ‘House’ medical series: monkey see, monkey do!
Try as we can, we cannot run away from the influence of our formative years, which is why as parents we need to nurture our children with this consciousness. Knowing fully well that we are the bows from which our children as living arrows are sent forth.
For our sakes as much as theirs, we need to do better. We need to be the future we hope to see. It’s not enough to want to do better, we need to actually do better. Ko ba le da! (so that it can be well).
Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults. – Abraham Lincoln.
Have a happy Children’s day!
*Not real name.