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DEAR SON: How do I keep you out of harm's way?

Friday November 24 2017

Crawling babies have eaten snails before, and

Crawling babies have eaten snails before, and this is the season when those disgusting line-drawing, bilharzia-carrying, puke-inducing creatures venture out from heaven-knows-where and start crawling about with abandon. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 


Dear Jijee,

There are questions that nag me about you every day at work : Will I find you full of beans like you were in the morning? Or will I find you morose, teary-eyed and ailing because of something you ate?

I am writing this on a cold evening in November 2017 when you are at the zenith of your crawling stage and the city is knee-deep into the rainy season. That means danger from all angles.

Crawling babies have eaten snails before, and this is the season when those disgusting line-drawing, bilharzia-carrying, puke-inducing creatures venture out from heaven-knows-where and start crawling about with abandon.

So sometimes I sit and wonder whether I will come home to be told how you feasted on half a snail before your minder intervened. “I was surprised how quiet he was,” your minder will say.

Then I see myself being shown the leftover mzoga of the slimy, disgusting creature as you look up to my face, wondering what the hell is getting people bothered while there are so many plates to be smashed, remote controls to be shredded into pieces and phone screens to be given a face-drop.

What if I receive a call that your magical little fingers have been burnt by a fire, that is if you slip under the radar of your minder and touch a naked flame?

And then I’ll receive a call, with the caller out of breath, that I should come to see how to attend to your burnt fingers.

I think I will need an ambulance called for me before I can engage in any further proceedings because I will have to go through five stages of processing the news: dying, resurrecting, denial, bargaining then finally acceptance.

And how about the knocks? You are at a phase where falling hard is almost a daily routine.

Your quest to learn how to stand using support is not without its pitfalls. Sometimes you knock your head hard against a surface.

Sometimes you fall face-first. Sometimes you fall hard on your bottom.


That makes me worry about the next hard surface you will knock and what impact it will have, especially on your head.

I have been reading material online that says kids who are below the age of four do not have good head and neck muscle control.

I shudder to think about anything that might cause a concussion, however minor, because there can be nothing as bad as an internal head injury.

But perhaps the School of Hard Knocks is hardening you to be the next Marouane Fellaini, the Manchester United player who is known to be very good with heading balls in the field.

Or maybe you are an upcoming Alvaro Morata, the Chelsea striker known for scoring goals with his head more than anything else.

Dear destiny, if you are hardening my son for future on-pitch assignments, it is okay; but please do it sparingly at this stage.

It scares me beyond words whenever I hear the sound of his tiny head hitting a wall. Scarier than the Titanic smashing an iceberg.

There will be times when his head will be ready for ball heading training. Okay, destiny?

My thoughts are sometimes immersed in dread over the next time you decide to come out of bed on your own.

Twice, you have been found precariously close to falling out of bed and I worry whether the third time will be a different story. Being the innovative kid that you are, you are always eager to imitate your elders and you have recently noted how they get out of bed.

Your innovation has however come a cropper time and again and I often wonder how terrible a fall from bed can be. I guess than in your dictionary, you consider that as kid-ing.

I dread the day when the floor will tell you that it is not funny. The floor, you know, never cares whether someone is kid-ing or adult-ing.

But well, perhaps fate is also preparing you to be a WWE wrestler in future, so you can climb up cages three storeys high and jump down to an emasculated opponent, wait for a count of three before you are crowned the winner of one belt or another.

Looks like you will be a real force in those “Hell in a Cell” fights which will be preceded by you talking ill of your opponents and spitting on their faces and throwing them on table-tops and pulling their girlfriends’ hair.

But in the face of my worries about you, only recently did I get a reminder that my headache is not necessary. It was from the Good Book that I was told not to worry about tomorrow.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus asks. Okay, I guess that means I cannot add an hour to anybody’s life by my worries.

The fear lingers, though.


This series brings you writings by PETER MOGAMBI, a Nairobi residentwho became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that when the boy can finally comprehend, he will get to follow his father’s feelings.