Day 28 – Monkey See, Monkey Do.

This is Day 28 of the 30 day writing challenge. The curtains are almost drawing on this life-changing (at least for me) challenge, I have learnt so much, about Postpartum Depression, about myself, about motherhood, about my son and about the relationships that matter. See, I just cannot post stuff on here and not abide by it. I cannot write something that I cannot vouch for. In that regard, this challenge has made me endeavor to be true to myself, as a child of God, as an individual, as a mom and as a friend.

Today’s post is reflective. Going home yesterday evening, I happened to sit next to a man and someone who I presumed to be his son. A man whose smell was unmistakably that of dingy seedy bars. You know the kind with dim lighting, slow mugiithi and likely, the highest concentration of Savco jeans per square kilometer? Yes that one. His verbal diarrhea was peppered with political small talk, the weather, and his bedroom conquests. I cannot forget the off-key singing that reminded me of a loquacious someone somewhere.

I’d not have a problem with him, okay, I did. Because on most evenings, I want to retreat to my little space, whether in the matatu (public transport in Kenya), or driving back home or walking under the moonlight. There is something reflective about some quiet, internal quiescence, after a long day that is as captivating as it is liberating. So suddenly, that was not an option with the unwelcome decibel-packed singing of the passenger in the backseat.

But that was not what disturbed me. I was befuddled by the fact that the man was accompanied by the young lad. The young boy, huddled in the back seat, was an unwitting spectator to the drama that unfolded right before our eyes. The man I presumed to be the young boy’s dad reeked of alcohol, and not the classic Cognac, or Hennessy. It was something far worse.

I could not imagine how the young boy perceived all these. I let my thoughts wander to distract myself from the guy’s speech on bedroom matters and which women he thought had it all. I wondered to myself, if this is what we saw panning out in the matatu, how much more when he got home? What was the young boy exposed to? What would his upbringing lead him to become? Was this guy violent? Did he hurl insults at the women in his home? Did he ever make time for the young boy? Would the kid grow up knowing that insults and a drunken stupor were the norm?

The boy didn’t say much, but you could tell everyone in the matatu was flustered by ol’ man’s antics. The conductor said little too. After a long day, perhaps such a verbose confrontation was the last thing he wanted. I couldn’t blame him either, yet this encounter set my thoughts on a different trajectory altogether. Perhaps it is because I saw little of my son in the young boy sitting on ol’ man’s laps. Or maybe the thought that the skeletons in my closet would almost expose a similar situation had my son been brought up in a two-parent home.

Whichever the case, this had me thinking about how we influence our children. Kids, I am learning, do not do what you say, they do what you do. A precise case of monkey see, monkey do. I took an introspective look. Do I ask my son to be gentle when things do not go his way, then be the one to shout when situations get awry? Do I tell him he ought to be organized for school, yet wake up in a huff, looking for stockings and earrings and wondering where one of my heels is?

Do I ask him to extend kindness even when he is wronged, then go ahead and hurl some unsavory words complete with gesticulation at the driver who cuts in mummy in traffic? When it comes to eating, do I advocate for healthy eating, only to steal away and munch on them fries? What about asking him to read the Word yet He never sees mommy open her Bible save for Sunday School? Do I ask him to pray, yet he never hears or sees mom doing that? I could go on and on…

The point is, am I a living example of what I tell my son to be or to do? I’d rumble on and on about what he needs to do or who he needs to be, but for as long as I do not live it, I might as well be playing a saxophone for a Merino goat. I am tasked with been an example for my child. It is my responsibility to model for him the traits I’d want him to exhibit, the character I’d like to see him as he grows to be a fine young man.

One of the challenges that single moms face, especially in Bringing Up Boys as James Dobson puts succinctly, is allowing for a present father-figure. This is often a male adult, a relative or friend who will walk with the boy in his journey to manhood. Grateful for this realization, and even more for the position I have as a mom to influence my son’s life.

Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

How do you influence your children’s lives? What are some of the challenges you have faced in been a role model? Are you a single parent? How are you handling the challenges that come with this? Let’s connect below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Featured Image photo credits: Authentic Parenting

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