Monday, August 25, 2014



This is the cry of a manipulative child. It is distinct. It is recognizable. It does not sound like a cry of pain. It doesn’t come close to a cry of disappointment or a cry of hunger. It is worse. It is shrill and piercing to the ears. It is uncomfortable because it is exaggerated.

Adults react to this cry in the way that children expect them to; They wear worried faces. They fear that their child is hurting. They try to find out how they can make things right. How they can enjoy silence again? We do whatever it takes to stop the ‘irritating’noise.

And therein lies the problem.

I am enjoying the company of my nephews and nieces who I have not seen in a long time. We are taking late afternoon tea. Hailey and Heidi are with me and they are happy to be in the company of their cousins. Kids love each others company and to them, it is creed that the more is indeed the merrier. A neighbor's kid comes to join the merry as it is also my neices’daughter’s birthday (hehe, I like making your reading life difficult, don’t I?)

All is well in play and they even sit down to tea. I notice the manipulative nature of the neighbour’s kid early enough. He wants this, doesn’t want that. He wants to sit here, won’t sit there. He needs this, won’t do that. He had a lot of preferences. He had a lot of dislikes and you would be in this child’s beck and call if you were to give him everything he wants.

You have seen that kid right? He is with his mother at the supermarket. Mother gets to till to pay for the the stuff in the shopping basket. Child decides that he wants something. Mother obliges and gets him ‘something’. He is happy. But just for a while. The queue is moving slowly and soon, child asks (nay, demands) something else that catches his eyes. There is so much that catches a child’s eye when you are close to the checkout till; the candy strategically placed at a child’s eye level; the pocket-unfriendly, useless, tooth-damaging, appetite-eradicating, goodies that are there to solely create a rift between parents and their children and so much more. Child demands for something else. Mother is on a budget. She declines and tries to convince child that what she has bought for him is enough, baby.

Baby will hear none of it. He wants what he wants and he wants it now. He gets what he wants or there will be trouble to pay if he doesn’t.. Mother tries harder to talk to him because what he wants is expensive. Stuff that is not in her budget. Stuff that will not feed him, educate him or clothe him. But see, the child does not care about usefulness. He wants it, he wants it, he wants it NOW and ….. WAAAAAH! That distinctive, unmistakable manipulative cry is unleashed!

Frantic mother tries to end the annoying noise. She is wondering what to do to stop this child from embarrassing her. Everybody is looking at them. Watching to see what she will do. she returns something from her basket. One of the useful stuff she had picked. Maybe even something that could have fed, clothed or educated him. She instead puts the useless expensive thingamajig that the child demanded into the shopping basket. Noise ends, there is peace and quiet just like she likes it. Child is happy. Prying eyes look away. There is peace. Are you kidding?

The neighbour’s kid was such child. when he was ready to go home, he decided that he was going with another child’s stuff. ”But those are not yours young man.”he was told. “They are mine! Mine! mine!”he replied. He threw everything he had and demanded to be given what he wanted. WAAAAAH?!

And off he runs to fetch his mother from the adjoining house. We sat still. We sipped our tea.

Hailey tried it once on me. Its a cold afternoon, we are outdoors with family. The ice cream guy comes to where we are picnicking and strategically places ice cream a sniffing distance away from our children’s noses. Hailey takes the bait, tugs the sleeve of my shirt and goes “Mum, buy me ice cream?”I say no, it is cold for one, and two, you have recurring tonsilitis. She starts pleading. I stick to my guns. Seeing that pleading is not working, she unleashes the weapon: WAAAAAH! Everyone looks around. What does Hailey want? Just ice cream? Surely, si you buy for her? It’s only ten bob!? Just buy her the damn ice cream! Someone brought out a ten bob from her purse, “Here Hailey, go buy yourself ice cream” she said. I snatched it away before it reached her hand. “Don’t!”I warned them.

And the crying went on for a while. Everyone was uncomfortable for the time it lasted. But I knew that it was necessary. I did not want to stifle that cry because it came with a lesson that we don’t always get what we want.

The moment you frantically search for something to shut them up or end the disturbing noise, you encourage them to continue being children when they actually need to grow up. It is not something easy to do, but it is something that needs to be done. Enduring that manipulative cry with resilience, helps rid society of the thieves, murderers, and wayward adults who have a demented sense of entitlement.

So next time your child cries for something you can’t give, try and make them understand why they cannot have it. If they are well fed and hunger is not a contributing factor, if their health is not threatened then relax and sip your tea because growth is happening. Allow them to grow up.

Have a splendid week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

It’s The Little Moments…

Heidi’s closet is getting revamped with clothes that don’t fit Hailey anymore. This means that Hailey’s closet is slowly gaining more room until we buy her new clothes to compensate for the ones she has lost to Heidi. I was arranging their closets the other day and realized that a lot of Hailey’s clothes have become too small and have to be passed down to Heidi.

These are the moments that make you aware that growth is happening. If the fact that they don’t need you to spoon feed them anymore, that they wash their hands before sitting down to eat without being told, that they don’t soil themselves or have small ‘accidents’ here and then, that they go to Sunday school willingly, without a fight (as was previously the case here) and stay there until mass is over before coming to find you - If these fact somehow don’t catch your eye, then you thankfully have the clothes that stop fitting to jolt you to that glaring reality.

But my Heidi sweetly thinks that the same way clothes become small after a while is the same way, they become bigger for a bigger person to wear. So when Hailey makes a face because she doesn’t like the idea of passing down her favorite skirt, Heidi is quick to console her saying “Usijali Hailey. Ikikuwa kubwa nitakupatia, sawa?”

I am glad that this growth is happening right before my eyes. I get to experience some things for the first time since this is the first school holiday that we are spending together entirely. Previously, all the time I could afford was a smidgen just before they closed their eyes to sleep or very early in the morning when they woke up, if they woke up early to catch me before I went to work. There was also the weekend option of a Saturday afternoon, and the whole of Sunday (God bless Sunday!) Things are different now in the sense that I am present. I am doing everything for my children from the time they wake up to the time they go back to sleep.

I am cooking for them, giving them baths. I am disciplining them, scolding them for not answering when I call them and admonishing them for not sharing their toys. I am also learning in the process. Learning to be patient with their young exploring minds. I am also learning to write and read amidst the noise. I am learning that children can play endlessly without tiring (the energy, my goodness!) especially now that schools are closed. I am learning to expect an unexpected kiss from Heidi when I am helping her get dressed. And I am loving it! I am learning to accept a helping hand from Hailey when she offers to do the dishes. And not to tear up when she does a jaw-dropping job.  I am watching them eat, play, and sleep. I am watching them grow. I am watching them watch me and emulate me.

Under my watchful eyes, my children blossom.

It doesn’t escape my mind that these moments will never come back. This is it. I am living for the moment because who knows… tomorrow there may be no kiss from Heidi. She might have gone to college, got married or relocated to another continent. And I will think of that kiss, crave it, but it will be gone. So, yeah, I will have one kiss to the cheek now, this moment, before it is taken away from me, thankyouverymuch!

As I put them to bed every night, I know that this is it. This is what their childhood will read like in their books. As I cook their favorite meal, I am fully aware that the smell of the food wafting from the kitchen to fill the whole house will be picked by their nostrils in their adult life and it will bring them down memory lane to this very moment of their childhood.

These are the moments. And these little moments are a big deal. It’s the little moments that make life big, innit?

I was just reading about the Cherry Blossom, a white flower with a tinge of pink at the base. These flowers are, apparently, Japan’s unofficial National Flower. Why doesn’t our country have a National Flower, woiye? Cherry Blossoms symbolize a bright future. In full bloom, they are a sight to behold with the trees taking the appearance of a beautiful cloud from afar. There is in fact a Cherry Blossom viewing ceremony (Hanami) where people hold picnics underneath the tree, taking the chance to relax and take in the beautiful view. What do you know, it is in fact said that most people give the answer ‘Under a Cherry tree’ to the question, ‘Where would you like to get married?’ Though Cherry Blossoms are nothing short of tres magnifique in full bloom, they only last a week or ten days tops before all the blossoms are carried away by the wind. Ten days and it’s all over. So even with all these hurly-burly surrounding its bloom, the Cherry Blossom, in all its glory and splendor lasts for ten meagre days.

The Cherry Blossom Flower
(Photo courtesy of

The Cherry Blossom Festival - Washington DC
(Photo Courtesy of

It is therefore referred to as a brief burst of the beauty of nature. A brief burst. I don’t think that anything better defines the ephemeral nature of life. Nothing lasts forever; Not the Cherry Blossom, nor childhood. Some things are here to be enjoyed for a moment. My children will soon cease being children. Every moment I can spend with them, I am grabbing now. What I will do is spread out that picnic blanket; stuff a basket full of picnic snacks and goodies. Then I will sit down with them under this spectacular ‘childhood’ tree. We will all make the best of it while it lasts. While the childhood clothes still fit.

I challenge you to emulate the Cherry Blossom. Burst forth with splendour even if its just for a moment. Make that moment count. Enjoy that child, that relationship, that job, while you still can. Live a life of beauty and be present in the moment. Because when you think about it, that moment is essentially all you have. It will be gone before you know it.

Have a splendid week!

Monday, August 11, 2014

45 Years On.

You get into a relationship with a man in your prime years. Soon it turns into something serious. You date and get married, say “I do” because you truly do. You are barely 18. You love him. You would like to spend the rest of your life with him. You are accepting him at his best and will keep him at his worst. You mean it when you promise to be with him for richer and for poorer. In sickness and in health.

You do.

Mr. & Mrs. Murrey

You start your life together. You fit into your new role as a wife pretty fast since you have your first child (a son) the following year. You are there for your young family. You are happy. He works. You are a housewife, which is work too. Immense work. You endeavour to take care of him, your home and your child. And the children keep coming. One after the other. Eight of them, they come. Some pregnancies are easy breezy. Others are a challenge. But you bear them all like the champ you are. With each birth come unsurpassed emotions of love. With each child, you experience elation that knows no bounds. You want more children, but the eighth pregnancy proves challenging. You realize that you have stretched your luck. Eight is ok. Eight is enough. You love the eight.

You take care of all of them. You change napkins more times than you care to count – diapers are not a word that exists in your vocabulary. You run after the children to contain them. You scold those who show signs of straying from your teachings. You crack the whip on your wayward brood more times than you can count. You love them all. You adore them even more.

Soon they start school and have to go to the city to get the good education that their father wants for them. You have to stay in the village and run your home. It kills you to be away from your children. You tough it out all the same. You do a spectacular job. A big beautiful house is constructed under your watch. It rises from the ground to tower intimidatingly at the other huts in your neighbourhood.

You tough out a lot more for your marriage to stand. You are taken for granted. You feel unappreciated. You remind yourself how it felt to be loved. You wonder whether he has forgotten how it was between the two of you. You wonder if he thinks about you. If he still loves you the same way he did when he married you.

You keep the faith.

He loves you. In his own imperfect way. He shows it. He takes you to travel around the world with him. You traverse the globe to countries you only saw in the map during your Geography lessons.

Years come and pass by. Retirement beckons. He comes home to you and you now spend every waking minute together. The children are all grown up. They are out there charting their own paths in life. They visit sometimes, but it’s only you and him now.

Then it hits you. You’ve been together for eons. During these years, you have argued. You surely have laughed. You have cried and made merry. Through the good times and the bad. Better, worse. Health, sickness. Births, deaths. Weddings, divorce. Success, failure. Bounty, scarcity.

It’s been a long stretch. So long that you don’t know where his life ends and where yours begins anymore. You are at this point entirely, completely, confusingly one. Your dreams, ideals, values collided so much over the years to eventually merge into one.

You understand his every need. You know his deepest secrets.  His strengths, his weaknesses. You know what he’s feeling because you have studied his mannerisms to perfection.  You know why he is quiet and withdrawn some days and why he bubbles with excitement on other days.

You look at him and wonder how you managed to stay together for all these years to remain standing. You wonder to what you owe this miracle where you have called him husband for so long, while he calls you wife.

You marvel at how you worked through marital problems and made a conscious decision to stay together at the end of it all. How you honored your leap of faith that resulted in you saying “I do” even without knowing what you were ‘doing’.

You wonder how your marriage stood the test of time.

Most of all, you wonder if he still remembers how it felt to fall in love with you for the first time. How it felt when he led you to the altar to declare to the world and to God that you were his chosen one, his wife.

Then he gathers his children together on the 3rd of August, 2014. He makes it known to them that today is a special day. He explains that it is special because it is the same day he married a beautiful girl 45 years ago. A very beautiful girl, he calls you. He remembers. This brings tears to your eyes.

He remembers!

45 years on, you still do. It’s you and him now till the end of time.

To my parents! To 45 years of marriage! To many more!