DEAR SON: I hope I never know the pain of seeing you hurt

Friday February 2 2018

In my brief fatherhood experience, I have come to learn that an injury inflicted to your child by a non-relative, even one which you could have caused yourself, makes you mad. It makes you think your child was being targeted.

In my brief fatherhood experience, I have come to learn that an injury inflicted to your child by a non-relative, even one which you could have caused yourself, makes you mad. It makes you think your child was being targeted. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

By PETER MOGAMBI

Dear Jijee,

Those images that a parent shared on Facebook some hours before I sat down to write this have not left my mind yet.

The back of my mind can still see that punctured ear. He said the ear was hurt by his daughter’s teacher at school. He wanted his Facebook friends to advise him on what to do, and the discussion soon veered into how he would give the involved teacher a piece of his mind without making the young  girl, who is barely four years old, thinking she now has power over the teacher. I shudder to imagine what happened to that hapless, ear-pinching teacher.

In my brief fatherhood experience, I have come to learn that an injury inflicted to your child by a non-relative, even one which you could have caused yourself, makes you mad. It makes you think your child was being targeted. You start lamenting and hating.

See, Jijee, I was once a teacher. And I injured a couple of children as I punished them (it’s illegal yes; but some kids just need canes) and sometimes it caused trouble.

I ONCE CANED A SPOILT BRAT

There was a time a parent came asking why I had to cane his daughter so much that she was left with a swollen hand. She was in Standard Five and had all the highlights of a spoilt brat.

Curiously, she was one among many who received lashes that day but it is only her parents who took offence. It could have turned messy, if not for my experienced supervisor who managed to cool things down.

And of course I had to be reminded that I had no kid at the moment and as such, I did not know the “pain” of raising a child and hence I should have been the last person to lift a finger against anyone’s child.

That incident in mind, I have been debating within myself on what I would have done if it was you who came home from school with a fresh wound, to report that it was Teacher X who inflicted it. Would I head to the institution determined to knock the daylights out of Teacher X?

Probably not.

I would have a word with the teacher, yes, but I would not raise my voice. Not until Teacher X hurt you again and I establish that they just want to make your life miserable.

Jijee, I remember the day your mother cut links with one of your minders.  After you spent a day there, she realised you had a bruise on your right leg, which she had not alerted your mum about.

The keenness with which your mum studied the bruise can earn her admission to any space agency in the world so she can study surfaces of extra-terrestrial objects and locate Neil Armstrong’s alleged footsteps on the moon all over again.

After the examination, her verdict was to discontinue your stay with the minder because in her reasoning, you can’t trust a person who hides your child’s bruise with the child’s entire life. Quite harsh but, well, mum knows best.

And whenever she notices something as minor as a scratch, even one that you inflicted on yourself when she was not looking, she takes time to study it. It appears that every parent is wired to immediately get suspicious when their child is injured by another person, however minor the injury is. Well, in these days of blood-transmitted diseases, being cautious definitely won’t hurt.

But in the case of teachers, there are parents like mine who still hardly question a teacher’s wisdom and it would make for an interesting reading to know how many parents have confronted teachers over injuries inflicted to children.

I know you are interested in knowing how the interaction was between father of the girl with a bruised ear and her teacher. I will ask then update you.

Yours the considerate ad infinitum,

Dad

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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.