Bits of ME
I see myself in the garden, legs and little arms in motion strongly holding a small hoe fit for my energy. I am digging and clearing the wildly grown weeds amidst the banana plantations.
I am wearing a used dark blue blouse (easily relatable to my comfort), and the tired flowery brown skirt revealing three small holes-punched in by old usage.
Once upon a time, it was my stay home favorite cloth that is now reduced to a garden outfit with recollections of my past.
As I brush sweat from my brow, my memory slips back in the day: the digging figure of my mum from a distance, in her wake- her children, unable to keep pace like a robot machine, she would clear the raging bushes.
Often time, drooling over our mother’s masterly with a hoe, we would compare it to a well swept compound revealing every detail on earth’s floor.
Prowling on the heels of my mother, my sister Liz and I, would chuckle at each other’s tales- typical child mischief on puberty; after all we were between 10-14 years of age.
By age of five, every member of my household would hold a hoe or imitate to. With time, a hoe in hand and in the rhythm, the rest in history.
Notwithstanding the household chores’ it was all part of the unwritten house rules. I recall how I would sigh when it wasn’t my cooking turn, yet unmindful mopping, sweeping, etc. was a covenant.
Let me speak to you directly.
I am looking at how you would cringe when your visiting child narrates to you housekeeping treat s/he interfaced at my residence!’
Child labour! Child labour! Is cringing in your mind
It was a way of life IF not the ONLY WAY to some back then.
Bits of YOU
Introducing children to household chores is relative to the nature of the chore, and age.
As Connie Musisi, a career development consultant relates, I wouldn’t expect a three-year-old to start washing their clothes. The ideal age is about 4 to 5 as they start school. But the initiations into work should be guided by the nature of the chore, health of the child and the growth trends.
Channeling back to you, at function a while back, this boy I suspect must have been in his mid-teen years, broke into a loud cry that disrupted the function and everyone was concerned.
His father ran to the rescue as many of us thought the worst had occurred.
On asking what the matter was, the boy cried out, “I was playing then my shoe laces let loose, I am asking ‘aunt’ to tie them but she has refused.”
The MC at the function sarcastically said, “banange abazadde, muyigirize abaana bamwe okusiba obuguwa bwengatto kubanga tuswala…naye temukoma kwekyo” (parents teach your children to tie their shoe laces, it’s shameful but don’t stop at that alone).
The message therein was deep and left many of us in conversation on child upbringing.
The father had knelt before the fourteen-year-old, tied the shoe laces with fingers pointing and rage directed at the maid for causing this unspeakable terror on his ‘little boy’.
Returning to his seat, he’d blurted, “these maids are irritants.”
Having domestic assistants/maids is a trend and at times inevitable.
Yet it has yielded a generation of children that cannot do basic chores.
If you were brought up in a work friendly system that explains your success and decent way of life today, why not wish it for your children?
Why would a university student, with a weekend to themselves surrender their clothes to a laundry outlet?
Musisi wonders how casual acts like making the bed, ironing, preparing meals, are a pain for many children today for the reason “No one taught me,” the answer when you probe.
“Times have changed”, is a common excuse by many parents to withdraw their offspring from domestic skills.
Yes, the caretaker syndrome is unavoidable in the present day and age. But leaving all the work to the maid can be a doubled edged sword.
“Parents need to embrace co-parenting with caretakers,” Musisi advises.
While some caretakers are more advanced than parents in age and experience, others may be poor role models, so the idea of co-parenting makes sense.
So, love your child some more with some household assignment (not a punishment as you put), the wailing ones will THANK YOU in future, like I do with my parents…ULALA!