“My baby’s number one. My baby’s second to none.” That is the mantra Tenderoni must have been humming when she went to pick up our Pudd’ng’s file from school late last week.
When Tenderoni knocked on the classroom door, she was met with — surprise, surprise — “some” welcome.
Out of the mouths of babes
“Is your mother bringing you up or down?” the teacher asked, catching Tenderoni unawares, wondering what this was all about.
“She’s bringing me down,” Pudd’ng answered, unblinkingly.
Apparently, this “assessment” had everything do with what the child’s parent was doing in relation to speaking the Queen’s language, helping with homework, and generally making sure that the child is, academically, A-OK. Tenderoni — and Joe Soap, by extension — failed because at times when baby girl speaks to us in English, we use the first tongue that hits our palates.
Pudd’ng told her teacher that her grandmother also lets her down because — among others — instead of saying mkate, she says, mkati. Oh boy, the buck stops with the dear lady’s Dholuo accent.
The numbers game
It was the issue of baby girl’s end of term position that made us question the teacher’s modus operandi. I mean, looking at Pudd’ng’s total marks — an excellent 489 out of 500 — one would expect she was top three. But she was not even top 10. Which made Tenderoni to almost do a forensic audit of Pudd’ng’s term papers.
“Kwani how do they give out the numbers?” Tenderoni went on, like a broken record, but Pudd’ng did not seem to mind her position. In fact, when her mother told her that she needed to up her marks to above 490, our daughter thought it was strange. To her, I guess, the best number is, of course, one.
As they left for an outdoors jaunt, Tenderoni had one command for Pudd’ng: “If anyone asks you about your number, mum’s the word.” Duh. She can say that again. Baby girl is the last person one should ask to keep a secret. The sweet thing leaks like a sieve.
And so it goes. It is Pudd’ng’s first term in Pre-Unit and already the “positions race” has reared its ugly head. Well, it happens every day when we send our children to school and lecture them on the virtues of being first in class. That the winner takes all: national school, university placement, honours, corner office, the works.
In school, Pudd’ng has tonnes of fun. That is the way it is supposed to be. She is too young to be worrying about CATs and positions.
Hearing it from her own parents’ mouths, about the utmost significance of a certain position will stress out her little nerves unnecessarily. It is a thin line between urging her to do well in school and forcing her to join cram camp so she can make the grades.
Sermons in the mornings
“I’m so proud of you baby,” I told Pudd’ng later in the evening after I had had a chance to peruse her file and see how she performed in all her papers.
I held her hands, like I do each morning before she leaves for school, looked straight at her, and told her she was a smart girl. Each morning, after praying — right before she dashes off — I pronounce blessings upon her life.
Although it is good to pray for our offspring in our secret places, it is better, and makes a big difference, if they hear us empowering them.
So, each dawn, Pudd’ng’s empowered by my words, presence, and participation. She is “armed to the teeth”. “You’ve made us proud, and we’re going to throw you a party. Look under the chair, I have a gift for you for doing so well in your exams.”
Man, that rocked Pudd’ng’s world. And that is how you “upgrade” your 489 student, into a 501 one.
Yeah, right. My baby is number one. My baby is second to none.
PSST: Over the Easter holidays, there were several cartoons about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
“Why are these people of Judah killing Jesus?” Pudd’ng asked, and I replied that the Lord died for our sins. I did not think much about it. Thought baby girl meant Jews. Only later did I realise that she meant Judas, not Judah.
And when the angel appeared at the tomb to proclaim to Mary Magdalene that Christ had risen, Pudd’ng went a step further. Using a Kiswahili corrupted word that has entered our lexicon.
“Why has the angel toklezead?” she asked, to which Tenderoni replied that the correct word is appeared.