Image Source: Valenbutac, Accessed 13/05/2017
P-boo: What else should I know to prepare me for the world?
Me: Your parents are building a good foundation for you to understand and have respect for females. You need to develop that foundation. Women have come a long way in the last six decades, but we still deal with many issues that you may not notice because they are not part of your daily struggle. We have to be careful where we walk at night and even when you say “No” politely to a man who wants to take you for a walk, he may call you an ugly name for saying “No.” There are even more terrible things that you will find out when you get older. Remember what your aunty Efua said about men in her office saying she was angry because of her perio…her peewiyod? That was very disrespectful. It can be very difficult for successful women at work. If you work aggressively to get ahead you are seen as unpleasant and greedy while people praise men for being the same way. On the other hand, if it is in your nature to be nice to everyone, you may be seen as obsequious or spineless and they may become patronizing.
P-boo: Okay, stop! Patronizing, obsequious; I don’t know what those words mean. You know I’m 1, right?
Me [Staring at him for a few seconds]: Right, that had skipped my mind. Sorry. “Patronizing” means treating someone in a way that may seem kind on the surface, but there is a feeling of superiority behind the kindness. It isn’t always deliberate but it’s there. I don’t know how to explain “obsequious” properly, but it means trying very hard to please people, even when it is sometimes inconvenient for you. Do you understand what “inconvenient” is?
P-boo: Of course! I’m not stupid.
Me: Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend.
I roll my eyes
P-boo: And just so you know, I’m already developing my respect for females. Whenever grandma visits she says I should take care of my sister Ama so I try to. But Ama is very annoying. One time Maame was changing her on the floor and I went over to watch over her and she scratched me! I pinched her but Maame told me to leave her alone and Maame and Ama laughed at me!
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/502151427174845895/, Accessed 16/05/2017
Me: Well, your grandma is right. You should take care of your sister, but your sister should also take care of you.
P-boo: It’s harder for me though. She only has to look after me, but I have to look after everyone because I‘m a man.
Me: Who told you that?
P-boo: I heard grandma tell my big brother Daniel. She said Daniel and me [sic] are the men of the house and we have to look after everybody. One time he fell down the stairs and cried. Grandma said big boys don’t cry because they have to look after everyone.
Me: Mmm, well it’s okay for boys to cry sometimes you know. It’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it makes it easier for you to tell people when you have a problem and not keep it inside and get frustrated and take it out on other people.
P-boo: I don’t understand.
Me: Okay, let’s go back to the diaper story. Imagine how you would feel if you never cried because of your wet diaper. How would your mummy know you were uncomfortable? You’d have to wait until she tried to carry you, right? That might take a while and all the while you’d be moody and no one would know why.
P-boo: Oh I see…
Me: It’s the same for your brother and even your daddy sometimes. But don’t cry ALL the time. Girls don’t like that.
P-boo: So when I grow up how do I know when I should cry and when I shouldn’t?
Me: I don’t know…just find a balance
P-boo: But how will I know how to find a balance?
Me: P-boo, I don’t know. You will figure it out. You will just know.
P-boo: You’re confusing. Girls are confusing. Yesterday mummy was mad at daddy because after dinner he went to watch TV and left her to do the dishes. After they argued daddy went to do the dishes because mummy asked him to, but then she was still annoyed. When daddy asked what the problem was, she said she was annoyed because she wanted him to want to do the dishes and he didn’t offer in the first place, so now he was making her feel like she was mean.
Image Source: http://citifmonline.com/2014/10/22/the-best-and-worst-things-to-say-during-a-fight/, Accessed 16/05/2017
Me: Well that makes sense. There are some things you feel the other person should want to offer to do when they see how hard you’ve worked. Your mum made dinner even though they both went to work and she was probably tired. It makes sense for her to want him to help.
P-boo: But daddy won’t ever want to wash dishes so he won’t volunteer. Why not just ask him to do them if she wants him to? He will always wash them unhappily but he will wash them. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that they’ll get washed anyway.
Me: We’ll leave that topic for another day.
P-boo [Frowning a little at me]: You don’t know the answer, do you? Also, don’t tell mummy I told you this okay?
Me: What, tell her that her 1 year old who can’t even say his own name told me she had a fight with her husband? Trust me, I won’t be telling anyone about tonight…Anyway, there’s something else you should know. You should learn how to cook for yourself and take care of yourself. When you get married you might have someone who does those things for you like your mummy does for your daddy, but it isn’t your right to have those things automatically just because you’re a boy.
P-boo: So…I have to learn to cook? But I won’t like to cook. It looks hard and messy. I like eating better.
Me: I’m sure you do honey. Most people do, but if you want to be the “man of the house” you have to understand that is a responsibility, not a title. If you do carry out this responsibility properly, one day you’ll end up with someone who will look at you and say proudly to everyone that you are the man of her house.
P-boo: Okay…that sounds fine I guess. But it doesn’t seem fair. Uncle Peter said he pays for his girlfriend’s clothes so she has to cook for him. Why do I have to cook and still pay for someone’s clothes?
Me: You don’t. His girlfriend should be paying for her own clothes, but people work differently in different relationships.
P-boo: Okay, well I like Uncle Peter’s idea. I really don’t want to cook.
Me: So if Uncle Peter loses his job and can no longer pay for her clothes, should she stop cooking for him?
Me: See, it’s more complicated than cooking and clothes, but believe me, it is better to learn to do things for yourself and for others. The universe will reward you with someone who feels and does the same. You’ll see.
P-boo [Glumly]: Well it had better reward me if I’m going to be cooking for myself.
Me: It will, honey. Now, I have more advice to give tonight. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses. Acknowledge them and work on improving what you can even though you will never fully conquer them. They will make you more grateful about your life and they will make you more understanding about the weaknesses in others. Also, do not love “in spite of weaknesses.” That may make you start to think you are doing the other person a favour by loving them. You are not in a position to determine which weaknesses deserve love. Only God can do that. When you decide to love someone, do it knowing that your love covers their weaknesses and choosing not to focus on them.
P-boo: I don’t understand what all that means.
Me: That’s okay. Just try to remember that for now. You will understand better when you’re older.
P-boo: You’re not very good at explaining things, you know.
Me: You just think that because you’re 1. You will understand later.
P-boo: That’s very patronizing of you.
I’m developing a whole new level of respect for this kid.
Me: I see you’ve learnt a new word. Okay, you win. The truth is I actually don’t know how to explain that better so I’m pulling out my “You’re the child and I’m the adult” card on this one.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/Beyondsay1/beautifulhandsome-lil-babies-and-kids/?lp=true, Accessed 13/05/2017