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The Day My Daughter’s Teacher Told Me to ‘Watch out For Relatives, Especially Male Ones’

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A Mummy Tales reader recently shared something with me, and asked that I share it with fellow readers. It is a thought-provoking deep article. Here, have a  read:

“”Not so long ago, I attended my daughter’s rehearsal for a performance at the national music festival. At the end of the show, I was chatting with her headteacher. The lady is usually good with words. I take every word she says seriously because of the little I know of her. More importantly, because my daughter says all the great things about her. That is why when my daughter’s great  headteacher said “Take very good care of *Nana. She’s a very special girl. Watch out for relatives, especially the male ones. They tend to abuse our children. A normal play time can easily turn into something ugly…”

I listened hard. I also got a panic attack. Maybe I shouldn’t have panicked…

My younger brother was temporarily living in our home at the time. He and my kids, and my sisters’ kids and just about any other kids belonging to any other relative of ours, are very close. He’s good with them, that’s given. They have a very fond nick-name for him- Uncle Knoxx – a name I can’t pronounce, and I’ve never cared to ask for its meaning. To be honest, none of us has ever thought anything much about the relationship he, and other male family members have with our girl children. That is why I didn’t understand why Great Headteacher’s words got my head spinning so fast I thought it would roll off my neck.

I stopped and asked her to explain why she said that to me. “Mama Nana, as a teacher I’m charged with sharing any form of advice that I have with parents of my children…” she said.

I was looking straight in her eyes just to be sure she was not trying to hide something from me. She didn’t look like she was. Problem is that she sounded like she was! D’you know what I mean?

So, I picked my daughter and off we went. My head was now sounding like an animal market with my own thoughts chirping, bleeting, mowing, barking, all at the same time! I questioned my daughter over and over – ofcourse not overtly – about her relationship with my brother, and my other brother, and my other brother, and the bro-in-law, and the other one, and the other one…

My daughter asked me eventually, “Mommy, are you having male issues?” I really don’t know what that question means, but it made me stop for the day…only to pick up the next day, from where I’d left!

I know, you think I’m mad. But yes, I did. Different questions, different tactics, same purpose, for the next five or so days. Yes, I did! I also watched my daughter and my beloved brother very closely to see any sign of anything of the type that my daughter’s super teacher had insinuated.

But nothing!

Was I frustrated or not? I can’t remember. I only know that there were no eye-brow raising moments between the two, or any other male relative that visited during that time. The cattle market in my head finally got closed and my head settled still on my neck.

This experience brought to mind two earlier experiences that had totally been forgotten. Two friends, two different times, two lasting painful experiences for a mother of a soon-to-be-teenage-boy: You know the way we women visit each other with our kids so they can play together. For some unknown, unexplainable reasons 9/10th of my friends have only daughters my son’s age (he’s now peri or pre-teen, whichever you prefer – that is the ninish, tenish, elevenish years onwards). Their sons are either too young, or way older (in very few cases), or not yet born.

Friend number one is a blunt shooter. Naturally my son and her peri-teen daughter are closer to each other because they talk and connect at their own age level. So on this day my friend arrived with her other kids, but not her eldest daughter. I didn’t think much of it until my boy asked where his buddy was. When I asked my friend where her daughter was, this is what she said: “I’m not ready to start handling teenage relationships at my age. It is better not to bring *Sandra to your house now that she is nearing teenage. I think you should also stop bringing *Clein along when coming to my house if you want us to remain sane.”

I’m glad my son didn’t hear this, because it cut through my stomach in a way he would never be able to handle. It’s been over a year and the two of them haven’t met. He has never stopped asking why we no longer visit this friend’s house. I’ve cooked enough stories, that have lasted us this far…

Friend number two’s case is short and sweet. She and her daughters passed by home one evening after school. My kids were doing their homework in a separate room, while my friend and I, and her daughters, chatted in the living room. Then one of her daughters strayed (yes, strayed, because it was on that day that I noticed that the girls were always under a tight invisible leash) to the room where my kids were. When my friend realised that her daughter was not in the living room with us, she panicked, and I reassured her that the little girl was with my kids. “

What? Is Clein also with them?” She asked in panic, getting up to go fetch her daughter. “I don’t want my *Mani going close to Clein especially now that he…” she stopped dead, held her mouth, more shocked (at what she had nearly said which I had understood anyway) than I was.

Why am I sharing these stories?

For one, I’m sad. Sad that I once panicked and held my beloved brother ‘Uncle Knoxx’ in suspicion around my daughter (totally throwing to the wind our own religious upbringing)!

Secondly, I’m sad. I’m sad because, as a mother of two sons, my boys become subject of suspicion as soon as they start looking like they’re sniffing the air of teenage.

Thirdly, I’m sad. I’m very sad. Indeed I am. I’m very sad indeed that I’m a mother of a daughter. A daughter whose welfare I guard with suspicion, paranoia, obsessiveness, and did I say paranoia?

Fourth, I’m sad. Sad that I didn’t know well to share with my two friends the truths that have only started to trickle in after that experience with my daughter’s ‘its-my-duty-to-advice-parents’ headteacher.

Finally, I’m mad; very maaaaddd, that teachers don’t know how to mind their own businesses at least, or at best, exercise discretion when giving advice to the real parents of their “children” and… I’m I directing my madness in the wrong direction? Any way, I still feel mad.

I ask: How will our children learn to relate with persons of the opposite gender if we build this wall of susparanoia around them? Don’t we realise that we’re creating a monster that we won’t be able to slay? What’s so hard in teaching our kids to respect their bodies – being the temple of God; and the bodies of others, just as we were taught? What’s this obsession with demonising other people’s kids and making saints of our own? What’s wrong with us? Can’t we just learn from our parents, at least (or are some of us learning this susparanoia from our parents?).“”

And there ends her article. As a mother of two little boys myself, I found this mom’s thoughts to be very very insightful, perhaps because I know what lies ahead for my sons – for me too.

And having been a young girl once myself, I am also very aware of what she, the great headteacher, and her friends who shield their daughters from her son are all talking about. #DeepStuff

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Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.

10 COMMENTS

  1. My home science class teacher told us to be weary of all men, to be decently dressed at home and outside, to always close our bedroom doors etc. To be honest she did a good job because i still remember that advice. Its your right and choice to take that advice and use it as you wish.

  2. A very interesting read. And very real for that matter. Maryanne, this paranoia is not unique to you alone.

    My daughter is only three but the minute she learnt to talk, socialize and want to go play at the neighbour’s (all boys for that matter). I knew the real meaning of paranoia. However, after giving much thought to my mixed reactions about my daughter’s engagements, I learnt to trust myself more in how I am and have raised her.

    It truly is shameful for not just friends but close friends whose values I know and they know mine, not not have faith in how I raise my child (to all parents out there). Nevertheless, we can never be 100% sure of how other people raise their children, so we need to peep, nose around, eves-drop, check-in on them once in a while (without being noticed), and also do the same when they know: like ask them what they did at their friends’, caution them that they need to be careful not to disrespect themselves or their friends by doing something wrong (explaining at their level of understanding).

    Even with our fears, we need to let our children know that we love them and trust them, let them grow. We can’t hide our children from our friends’ children thinking we have hidden them from the world.

    Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will never depart from it.

  3. What! wow! never saw it this way.. Not sure what to think right this minute. My daughters are 8 and 4 well… aah let me see.. no think…

  4. my daughter is 4 n 1/2 our neighbours are boys 8 and 11. Believe me i’m paranoid!!!! I’ve heard too many stories not to be. I do my bit on raising her but the paranoia just wont go away..

  5. Hey, just found your blog and i love it. I know this article ni ya kitambo, but i just want to give a fresh perspective to this story both as a once-apon-a-time young girl and a near-to-be mom. I wouldnt be paranoid but i would be careful with my girls and boys too. Particularly, girls around male relatives and. Coz from personal experience, the male relatives may seem innocent, God fearing, and great but they many not be, or a bad thought may just enter their mind one day. When i was in my tween years, around 7, 8, and 9, a teenage uncle lived with us. He was ok for a long time, but then reached a time he abused me, and no body ever knew coz i was totally scared. Anyway, im over it, and seems like TMI posting about this here, but i thought i should.

  6. I know a woman who was abused when she was in Nursery school and she never told anyone until she was in her 30s so for me I want my babies to know when someone is being inappropriate and more so I want them to be able to talk to me about it. I’m sorry if I sound overly protective but I don’t think people talk about this stuff in Kenya – how many 5 year olds (Both girls and boys) know when someone is touching them inappropriately?

    Yeah, maybe the teacher should have stayed in her lane but I would rather ask millions of questions & make people uncomfortable than miss something under my nose.

  7. I am surely glad I am not alone in this paranoia pheew. I am a mum to a four months old baby and it has taken me alot alot alot to trust other people other than my mums and husband with my son. Sometimes, a little paranoia is not so bad. Maybe the word we should be using is cautious? I don’t know.
    I love your article Maryanne! They are so helpful as they are thought provoking.

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