Celebrating East African Writing!
I once was a child, but now am grown up and sometimes miss every thing that accompanied the childhood age…innocence, naivety and the ability to get away with almost anything.
I was born in a family of five children and trust me; my birth right position was a hard nutshell to crack…middle child! I seriously suffered from the Middle Child Syndrome better known as the MCS or in the layman’s language, ‘Ignore the Middle Child and Focus on the Other Children!’
I have now come to accept that I suffered from MCS and even actively participated in the sibling rivalry sport! I just never seemed to get enough attention.
My father was a fulltime employee with a famous tea company, while my mother a present time description of a career woman. The stars were never her limit.
I remember my father spending time with us in the evenings after work, as most of the time, my mother would arrive later when we had already tucked ourselves into bed after a cup of warm milk and bananas.
However, every Saturday and Sunday was ‘mother-children’ day and we longed for these days when each of us could pour our hearts to sweet Mama and perhaps succeed in getting her attention.
My siblings being the heavier in weight, would most of the time shove their way around my Mum and me being skinny and a dwarf, would find myself pushed and my dainty toes stepped on, forcing me to walk away tired of this awkward attention-seeking game.
I therefore developed a strategy. There was a common saying in my village that went something like this ‘If you cannot go to the local Chief, then make the Chief come to you!’ That was exactly the strategy that I decided to apply.
My siblings still bear witness to this day that I was a scoundrel while young and even shudder at some of the things I would go through to get my Mama’s attention. It was a real description of a matter of life and death experiences.
There was this one time my Papa bought a television. I had never seen anything of the sort and really got amused by the people and objects behind the screen.
When everyone was away, I remember walking towards the television set, switching it on and what I did, hate me or not, to date I believe was one of the most stupidest of things that I have ever done.
An animal documentary was on and seeing a massive lion starring at me, I screamt and did what any Khoikhoi or San would have done; I ran out, came back with a stone in hand, aimed at the beast from the back of a chair and you can guess what followed….an explosion, broken glass and more broken glass. Well, the result was that I could not sit on my bottoms for almost five good days!
I also remember this one time after a Science class titled ‘moving air is called wind’ and I just had to prove this.
Seizing an umbrella from the house, I walked out looking for a suitable tree for my Science practicals.
My younger sibling found me and being the type that worshiped and believed all that I said – she still does- volunteered to do the ‘take off’.
Climbing up an avocado tree, I counted up to three and shouted to her to jump.
I think the wind timing was a little bit to late as she came crushing to the ground like an
Elephant, broken wires and entangled cloth being evidence of a once functional umbrella.
Yes, you guessed right; plaster was needed all over her left leg and right arm and once again, my bottoms were not spared and I was denied supper that night.
The amazing bit was that as I was being disciplined, my sister would cry out to my parents not to beat me too hard! Behold what manner of love!
There was also this other time when I wanted my mother’s attention while she was entertaining guests. I called my younger sibling, again, she was always available to specimen my experiments, and explained to her that I needed her to wear a helmet pretend she was a motorbike rider and zoom all over the house, including the living room.
At first she was reluctant but hearing that the activity would come with a reward, she obliged.
With red underpants on her head as helmet, my overjoyed sister went zooming about the house as I followed her pretending to be a motorbike rider, too, but when we approached the living room, I hid behind the living room-corridor partition door and watched!
The talking stopped, pin drop silence followed accompanied by muffled laughter and pretense not to have seen what just happened.
My mother, now enraged, jumped off her seat and flew for my sister’s exposed ears – the ‘helmet’ failed its test with failure to cover those precious vulnerable ears!
The rest of the evening was spent on the verandah without supper until I apologized to the whole household for unruly behavior including the writing of an apology letter that is in my father’s possession to date.
From forcefully pouring methylated spirit to a wound incurred by my youngest sister during play, to lying to my brother that upon swallowing food or water he had to say, “Gulp! Gulp!” which would aid in food digestion, to further rubbing red wild fruits on my legs to resemble blood and wailing for help, and intentionally developing a rash by brushing a caterpillar against my hands so as to skip school, then making fun of our local milkman and causing him to cut deliveries to our home -Yes, Mama. That is the reason why Silas stopped bringing milk home. The list is endless.
My childhood was one memorable part of my life, and given a chance I think I could revert back with wittier plans of action!
It still amazes me how I could be so merciless and unruly. God forbid my cheeky genes be passed down to my future offspring!
I look back and am perplexed at what I did to try and win my mum’s attention and approval. I now take this opportunity to apologize to all that were agonized by my doings.
© Patricia Waliaula 2009 ٭The writer is a 23 year old law graduate from Moi University Annex School of Law. Her hobbies include reading, writing and traveling. This story is dedicated to all who identify with her as they grew up. To all parents with unmanageable children…it just is for a season…let children be children.
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