By Helen OvbiageleWoman Editor
AS Mrs T opened the door to her living-room, five year-old Jack and six year old Mary rushed forward to bid her welcome; helping her with her handbag and briefcase. â€œThank you, children.Â Itâ€™s nice to be home.
The traffic was so bad. Have you both been good children?â€ â€œYes,â€ said Jack.Â â€œWe did our home-work, and ate our food without making a fuss.â€ â€œYes,â€ concurred Mary, â€œwe didnâ€™t give auntie Lucy any problem.Â I even helped her with the baby.Â Jack and I didnâ€™t fight.â€ â€œThatâ€™s great!Â I got you some biscuits – your favourites.Â Now, donâ€™t fight over them.Â Here – take two packets each.â€
â€œThank you, mummy,â€ said Mary. â€œWe love you, mummy,â€ said Jack. As she shared out the biscuits, Lucy, Mr. Tâ€™s teenage cousin came in with the baby in her arms.Â She took him from her, sat down and began to coo to him.Â Just then, her husband came in and the children jumped up to go welcome him in.Â He patted their heads and went to give his wife a peck on the cheek.
While asking after everyoneâ€™s day, he noticed the baby clutching his right ear. â€œIs he alright?â€ he asked anxiously.Â â€œHe seems to be in some pains, holding his ear like that.â€ The others laughed. â€œUncle, heâ€™s on his mobile phone,â€ explained Lucy. â€œYes, he started that yesterday,â€ added his wife. â€œHeâ€™s noticed us using our mobile phones and he now holds his ear.Â Heâ€™s dropped his hand now.
Bring out your mobile phone and hold it to your ear.Â Youâ€™ll find him doing the same.â€ â€œReally?Â Is he old enough for all that at eleven months?Â Okay, letâ€™s do as you said.â€ The minute he brought out his mobile phone and held it to his ear, the babyâ€™s hand went back to his ear.Â Every body roared with laughter. â€œBabyâ€™s on the phone,â€ yelled Jack.Â He went to him.
â€œSay â€˜helloâ€™ â€˜hello.â€™ The baby couldnâ€™t manage that. â€œHa! These kids grow up fast these days o, and canâ€™t wait to become adults,â€ marvelled Mr. T.
After supper, as the couple were watching the television, there were angry voices coming from the childrenâ€™s room.
â€œOh dear!Â I donâ€™t need this,â€ moaned Mr. T.Â â€œAfter a hard dayâ€™s work, one deserves some peace and quiet. What can the matter be?Â Havenâ€™t they had their cocoa drink?â€ â€œI heard Lucy giving it to them.Â Iâ€™ll go and find out what the matter is. Their voices are getting louder.Â I hope theyâ€™re not fighting.â€ â€œIâ€™ll come with you.Â They must behave themselves.â€ They stopped in their track when they heard Jack bullying his sister.Â â€œGive that to me!Â Iâ€™ll read the story book first,â€ he was insisting.
â€œNo, I will.Â Iâ€™m older than you and it was me that auntie Lucy gave the book first.Â She said you can have it after I have read it.â€ â€œNo, I will read it first. I am a boy.Â You have to obey me.Â Girls should obey boys.Â Daddy said so to mummy.Â If you donâ€™t obey me, Iâ€™ll beat you up.â€
â€œYouâ€™re a small boy.Â You canâ€™t beat me up.Â Iâ€™ll squeeze you like orange.Â Iâ€™m older than you.â€ â€œBut Iâ€™m a boy.Â Boys are stronger than girls.Â If you donâ€™t let me have that book Iâ€™ll slap you like daddy slapped mummy the other time.Â He pushed her too.â€
â€œThatâ€™s a lie. Mummy and daddy donâ€™t fight. Daddy doesnâ€™t slap mummy.â€ â€œHe did. He pushed her and slapped her.Â He told her to shut up and that she must obey him because heâ€™s a man. You must obey me.â€Â Mr. T covered his ears in embarrassment and went away.Â The argument continued. â€œI wonâ€™t.Â Youâ€™re a silly little boy.Â Youâ€™re not even clever.Â You donâ€™t come first in class like me.â€ â€œI do.Â Youâ€™re not clever.â€
As their mother was about to go into the room to settle the quarrel, she heard Lucy go in through the other door and began to scold the children; threatening not to let Jack read the book if he didnâ€™t behave himself.Â â€œI may even take it away totally and none of you will read it,Â if you donâ€™t stop quarreling about it.
Jack, you must obey your sister because sheâ€™s older than you. Also, boys are not better than girls in any way.Â God made boys and girls to be equal. Get that into your head. Any more quarrel about this book and Iâ€™ll take it away.â€
The children sobered up at once and said they were sorry to have quarrelled. Jack agreed that Mary can read the story book first. â€œLetâ€™s do better than that,â€ said Lucy. â€œStarting from today, Iâ€™ll read from the book to both of you at bed time.
Okay?â€ â€œThank you, auntie,â€ they both said. When Mrs. T joined her husband in the living-room, his head was down in his hands as if he was in agony. â€œDarling, please come and sit here,â€ he told his wife, patting the seat beside him. â€œTell me.
Have I ever laid a hand on you?Â Jack claimed that I slapped and pushed you.Â That has never happened. And all that talk of me bullying you, I canâ€™t recall any of it.Â How can a small boy like that make up such a nasty story and paint me with such filth?â€
â€œDonâ€™t distress yourself, my dear,â€ said Mrs. T evasively. â€œYou know these kids. They pick up ideas from their friends.â€ What she didnâ€™t tell the husband was that on a few occasions when he returned home drunk,Â he had turned abusive; bullying her and pushing her around.Â On one occasion, he had actually slapped her and told her she wasnâ€™t obedient to him enough and that a woman should do as the man tells her.
He was basically a good man, and she had not held his behaviour under the influence against him; taking it in her stride.Â She had no idea that Jack had been a silent witness and he had imbibed what he had heard and seen. This sort of thing goes on all the time.
We do things which are not ideal, never imagining that our wards notice them and are copying them.Â Experts say that the learning process is mostly observation and emulation.Â Whatever bad habits the young have, actually start from the home and neighborhood.
They watch and they copy.Â Unfortunately, not all adults are role models, and a bad character is more exciting and appealing to the young than good character, which some of them find boring.Â A child from a home where thereâ€™s verbal and physical abuse will surely exhibit signs of violence unless checked by the Spirit of God somewhere.
Children in cramped accommodation where intimacy among couples cannot be totally private, are introduced to sexual activities early; through curiosity and a desire to experiment.Â Same thing if theyâ€™re allowed to watch filth on television, or if they have access to unclean books. They then go out to infect other young people; even those from supposedly well-adjusted background.
The decay in any society is directly linked to the conduct of the adults.
This obtains in the larger society too.
If we have thieving and corrupt leaders in the society who flaunt their wealth about, some young people might just consider them their heroes and go on to enrich themselves with public funds too.Â If adults rig elections, and with the help of young people, we can expect rigging to become totally ingrained in our elections because young people know that thatâ€™s the only way to win.
Letâ€™s all resolve to clean up our act as adults and show the young how to live a well-adjusted life of even temper, accountability, integrity and transparent honesty.Â Then, we can expect a decent society as the young take over the reins of affairs later.