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DADDY DIARIES: Face to face with a tantrum-prone parent

HILLARY LISIMBABy HILLARY LISIMBA
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I’m the kind of child who was nurtured to attend one institution from start to completion, only moving when the next step called.

In other words, between nursery and university, I attended one primary school, one high school and one institution of higher learning, only changing universities when it was time to further my education.

For the uninitiated, my mom was a primary school teacher who was transferred to a different school every time she got promoted, somehow she never tagged us along like I see some people do.

She had moved thrice by the time I finished Class Eight, which meant I would easily have attended three different primary schools, like a nomad scrounging for greener pastures that sometimes aren’t necessarily green.

STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY

If you ask me, it ensured stability because I formed friendships that lasted years, adapted to the environments once, and was able to gauge my abilities more easily than if I kept changing midway and meeting new sets of classmates.

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It was also easy for the teachers to monitor my track record because they had seen me join as a five-year-old after confirming my right hand was long enough to stretch over my head and touch the left ear.

That in the yester years was how they measured a child’s preparedness to join school, which was uncouth because the boy with the longest arms was the perennial truant and by extension last one in exams. Story for another day.

That one-institution model is one I carried into my own parenting, deciding that my children would not move schools often unless it is unavoidable. It is also the reason I took over one year in shopping for my son’s school, and when I got what fit the qualities I wanted I did everything to ensure they enrolled him.

So far so good academically and socially. My kid has settled in so well that the thought of taking him elsewhere to begin acclimatising with environments, transport crew, teachers and systems would be a great disservice to him. But like they say, people are born different.

It was a normal parents’ day meeting and I was seated next to this mom whose daughter shared a class with my son. She donned a Manduli-type red and green head gear, glasses with huge round black frames, a green mermaid African dress and red peep toe stilettoes that thumped the tiles hard.

On her face was an inviting smile, coupled with this warmth in the manner she spoke and interacted with those of us seated around her. That woman oozed class.

We were divided into groups to discuss something about after-school clubs, and it is here that the woman started comparing this school with three others her daughter had earlier on attended. The daughter is four heading five.

That came out weird for me because I could not understand why a pre-primary child had already moved schools so much. It was none of my business, I know, but I made a mental note to follow up on her story.

My answers came in quick, faster than I had imagined I’d crack the case open.

The smiling lady woke up one morning and threw long tantrums on the parents’ WhatsApp group, complaining about school food, clubs, pick up time and teaching methods.

She was not using the kindest words as much as she was aware the group had the school principal, dean of studies, school nurse and the same teachers who spend every weekday with her daughter.

All of us just kept quiet, dumbfounded by the unexpected turn of events especially given that whatever she was complaining about were things we did not see a problem with.

I learnt that as if that was not enough, she physically went to school the following week and threw an even bigger tantrum at the administration, asking them whether they knew who she was in this country.

PROBLEM WAS WITH THE MOTHER

There and then I knew the problem was not with the student but the mother. In all honestly, all schools cannot be bad, so if you find yourself always moving your young one because you can’t agree on something with the school then you are the problem.

Secondly, school teachers and administrators are human beings with feelings and emotions, and bullying them makes your child a marked student.

Woe unto that young one if you choose to let him or her continue schooling there, because things will never be the same between him/her and teachers, fellow students and other supporting staff.

I did not see her at the last parents’ day meeting that opening week for term three. Not to insinuate anything, but your guess could be as good as mine.

Maybe she was just busy now that we are yet to know who she is in this country, but I figured power and money were probably getting in the way of her thinking ahead in terms of her child’s education.