Last Monday morning I had a meeting with my baby shark’s class teacher on her performance. We have been trying to meet for weeks to discuss my girl’s progress before she moves on to a new academic year. My motivation for seeking her out was I felt Ma (as I fondly call her) was not applying herself academically. This I picked out from results from her assignments and tests that she brought home. Plus, the teacher’s comments in red.
Like any parent I want her to maximize her abilities and gifts so I get upset when she appears to do her school work casually. Not to mention the high fees we are paying as another motivation. My girl is the best 9-year-old daughter a man would ask for –si I’m her dad so she has to be. She plays the keyboard and is on the school swimming and soccer teams. She even tried her hand (and fractured her finger) at basketball. I remember cheering her once in a match until my voice disappeared. I encouraged basketball because we have to put our long legs to good use.
Parenting is a contact sport and sometimes deliberate and intentional actions have to be taken. This was one of them for me where I see the school doing the half that I’m not able to do for my child. The school spends half the day with her and I spend the other half with her at home during the school term. I felt I needed to get the 411 from her class teacher to enable me better my half of the contribution to her wellbeing. Mwalimu said we are working towards the child’s complete wellness not just her grades. I like that description.
I got a few surprises from baby shark’s teacher in that meeting. I went in on the high horse of a perfect parent needing to streamline their child. After the meeting I had shukad from my horse and left in a small donkey like the one characterized by Eddie Murphy in the animation, Shrek.
Mwalimu said that I need to make a fuss about what my toto is excelling in as much as I’m causing about her weak areas. I have been focusing on what she’s not doing well in and that gives Ma the overall impression that she’s not good enough. That made me sad. I recently read in a strength assessment exercise that a weakness is an overused strength. My zeal for wanting my child to be the best could be pushing her further from that goal.
I also realized some tabias she has are not her fault. Genes from Baba here seem to be manifesting strongly in her. For instance, she is the class comedian and is easily distracted from her work in class. That was me copy paste back in the day.
I need more patience with her as was given to me by my parents, teachers and tuition instructors combined. And even after all that effort I still didn’t top my class. I ended up with a strong C grade in highschool. Maybe C stood for Combined hehe. Thankfully my totos have mummy shark’s brains so there’s a good chance we will all be fine.
Sometimes we cast a shadow over our kids without being aware that we are blocking them from the warmth of the sun. We try hard to shield them from this dangerous world and in the process block opportunities for them to grow and blossom. May we as parents and guardians learn how to balance the parenting boat because if we put a lot of weight on one side of an issue then we risk capsizing the boat. And if that happens then we shall be judged harshly both by the world and more importantly our little people. Unfortunately, there’s no dry run on parenting before you become one. We learn on the job. But it can be done. My mum told me she and Mzee just befriended us as we grew up and here we are now living a version of a balanced life. At least it looks like it.
I got a poem from Ma’s school folder that summarized it well. It was on the school terms theme – Fortitude. Poem by Min
In this world of steel, what does it mean to feel?
To love, to hate, to be forgotten? To think this world’s just plain rotten?
Look around at the sky, the land, the sea. Think about what this world could be.
Look to the sea for your reflection. But don’t focus on your imperfections.
Our time here is much too brief, To waste on such trivial grief.
So go into the world without hesitation, and nurture your precious aspirations.
That session with Ma’s teacher was me looking at the sea for my reflection. I saw both (me and baby sharks) our imperfections but left with the resolve not to focus on them. Richard Templar puts it well when he says, “being a parent is about 75% making it up as you go along’’. We have the freedom to make mistakes.
If there is one thing I want to be remembered for long after I’m gone is that I gifted this world with good humans (my offspring) who went on to make a positive impact wherever their long feet took them. Folks may we seek the wisdom to balance the boat of life so those under our care can nurture their precious aspirations.