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DADDY DIARIES: Parents are human, too

Friday February 14 2020

I can tell you without batting an eyelid my dad would have accepted to say anything else in life but not admit to his children that he did not know something. PHOTO | FILE

I can tell you without batting an eyelid my dad would have accepted to say anything else in life but not admit to his children that he did not know something. PHOTO | FILE 

 It was the first Monday of February, and as has become the norm the school bus came slightly late.

I guess most children struggle to wake up on Mondays after sleeping in and running themselves silly over the weekend. Since we have always programmed ourselves to fit into the routine in an almost perfect way, the ten extra minutes of delay gave him an opportunity to sneak in one of his usual trick questions.

“Yes Doodoo,”

“What is the name of that sticky thing spiders produce from their bumbums to make webs?”

First of all, who even thinks about spiders and webs on an early Monday morning, honestly? Secondly, most of us are perfectly fine with knowing a spider makes a web in which it nests and traps unlucky prey for its meals.

These other shenanigans of the material used, the fact that it comes from its bumbum and the name given to it are just but sideshows.


Something inside kept telling me that I know too much English to not be aware of such a small thing, but then the more I cracked my mind the clearer it became that yours truly had no idea. What a way to start such a promising week in a new month of a new year.

Words like 'strand' and ‘string’ came to my mind but none seemed convincing enough to give out.He soon got impatient and interjected my train of thoughts;
"Just say you don't know, it is called silk!"
Fam, did any of you know that thing was called silk? Please tell me I am not the only dimwit in Babylon. To be honest that was a new one for me, even if I had been given the whole day my answer would not have gone that direction.
I quickly pulled out my phone, punched the code in and consulted Google University; the young man was actually right. I for a moment stood there feeling stupid, wondering why I had never thought about researching on such a common thing.

I grew up in a little village in Vihiga where we perennially fought spiders that perched on the walls of our mud houses, how had my mind never questioned such a thing in all those years until I had to learn it from a five-year-old who has not exactly had serious encounters with that arachnid? I was disappointed in myself.


It however dawned on me that as a parent, there is always the temptation to look like a know-it-all to your child, but then what benefit is there to give a wrong answer and mislead an inquisitive young mind?

So I started, albeit ashamedly, being at peace with the fact that I am human first, then parent, therefore it is perfectly normal to not know everything. Even the most learned individuals whose names are denoted by tens of titles still have new things to learn every day.

At least the young man was gracious enough to not chide me for not knowing the answer, but I also jumped on the opportunity to let him know that I was not only grateful he had taught me something new, but that he too was allowed to lack information in some aspects and not be embarrassed about it. He felt so proud. I did too.

I think that is a mistake most parents of our time made; they instilled in us this notion that they were clever and knew everything, that is why everyone will tell you that their mom or dad always scored 100 per cent in Mathematics and came top of class.

I would love to meet someone who’s parent openly admitted to them that they struggled in school and hardly managed 25 per cent in Mathematics, because slow learners must have existed during their schooling days.

I can tell you without batting an eyelid my dad would have accepted to say anything else in life but not admit to his children that he did not know something. That does not mean we never asked tough questions, we did, only that his reaction whenever he got stuck was to chase us away citing disturbance, claiming exhaustion or just giving us some weird task with a deadline.

Away from the moment, the young man’s would-be simple but surprisingly difficult question jolted me out of slumber, a reminder that I have slackened in the department of knowledge.

For a parent with a kid in the curious stage, I should keep updating myself with everything possible in preparation for all sorts of questions.

It is acceptable to tell your child you do not know one, two or three things, but when you end up not having answers to anything else he asks that casts such bad light on your competence, it could even lose that child’s trust in you.

On that note this month I am reading the Encyclopedia page by page, this embarrassment must not reoccur.