By Bunmi Sofola
“Arinola was 25 years old when she moved back to Lagos to live with her father and her step-mother after a spell of studying abroad. “It was an unmitigated disaster,” she said. “Armed with a masters degree and a prospective to-die for job, I wasn’t exactly a sight for sore eyes with my stepmother. She’d cleary enjoyed having the house – and her husband – to herself, and she was no at all pleased to see me. Weeks later, she took me aside and said: ‘You’re a full adult now. You can’t stay here for long, your presence in the house is too disturbing’.
I was furious – after all, this was also my home. I wasn’t allowed to cook in her kitchen (too much mess) or to have friends over, (too much noise) or to watch rubbish TV (too corrupting of my two younger siblings). Everything I did was a challenge to my stepmother’s authority, whether I meant it to be or not. Poor dad had given her such a free reign of the house he never intervened – afterall, they’d been married for close to 14 years.
“The final straw came when I got back late one night and rang the door bell because I had forgotten my key. I was let in as if I were an intruder. The next day, I had come home to find my mum waiting for me. My step-mother had packed my belongings ready for me to move to my mum’s house.
26 years down the line, my experience then is not something I wanted to repeat with my own 22 year-old daughter. The difference between my experience as a returnee all those years ago and my daughter is that I really do want her under my roof. But I’m beginning to realise that maintaining a good relationship with an adult child can be just as challenging as looking after a kid. The first big change is that my word is no longer law. When your child is young you have authority – if my daughter wanted to go out in something I didn’t consider suitable, I could simply forbid it. Now there is nothing I can say when she wears one of her ridiculous wears. If I do say anything timid, such as “should you be going out dressed like a tramp?” She will most likely disappear up-stairs and come down wearing one of my expensive designer tops. “But you said I should dress more appropriately mum;’ she’d say if I protested.
The worst thing is having to remember not to ask questions like: ‘Where are you going?’ or worse still: ‘What time will you be back?’ Adults should be allowed to come and go as they please but when you are lying awake at 3.00am straining to hear a key turn in the lock, it’s hard to remember that. I am far from the only mother going through “the boomerang” experience with their grown-up children. The current generation of twenty something are living at home in unprecedented numbers. Today, a large number of the so-called millennia generation of 24 to 22-year-old live with their parents. In my days, the number was very few. And it’s not their fault of course – there aren’t enough good jobs for new graduates, and if they do find work, their salary will only just cover the rent if they are lucky.
“At my daughter’s current age, I could rent a room and still have enough money to have fun – and at 26, I was married and buying our first flat with my husband.
This was fairly typical of my generation born between 1955 and 1964, most of whom were married by their early 30s with a lot of them home owners. The awful economic truths is that unless my daughter suddenly comes into good money (winning the lottery maybe?l) or marries into money (both extremely unlikely), the chances of her buying a home before she’s 40 are infinitesimal.
“1 have quite a few friends who are going through the boomerang experience with the same varying degrees of success. One family decided to accept the economic reality and turned their house into flats so that all the children could live independently. Another family converted the locked-up garage to a bedsit for their grown-up returnee daughter. Sadly, I don ‘t have the means for something that drastic – and convenient. Unlike a tenant, my daughter is not paying rent. And despite having a perfectly nice room of her own (with a new bigger bed she requested for) she likes nothing better than to spread out on my bed, leaving a trail of magazines and biscuit wrappers in her wake. It’s not the mess 1 mind as much as the sense that I am slowly but surely being usurped – like it or not, I’m no longer the leader of the pack. When my daughter’s friends come around it is delightful. I love being around young people, but there’s something quite demoralising when you are middle-aged about waddling down to the breakfast table to find a group of gorgeous 20-somethings sitting around, glossy haired and glowing skin, reminding you of your rapid slide down the evolutionary slope.
“Since my daughter’s return, I’ve spent a fortune on hair extensions and beauty products in an effort to keep up, but you can’t buy youth in a bottle. Still, I can’t complain much. When she was a baby, older women would say to me: “treasure this time, you will miss it when it is gone.’ But sleep – deprived and desperate, I couldn’t understand what they meant. Now I do – and I am determined to treasure this second chance I have with her praying it won’t last for ever. That however, comfortable and easy it is living at home, she will eventually want to move on, without my resorting to prayer warriors, and I will lose her gain – this time for good!”
As Thick As A Plank? (Humour)
A woman complains to her friend that her husband is losing interest in sex, and he prefers nights out with the boys to the joy of copulation. Her friend tells her that to win his love she must make more effort. She advises her to cook a slap-up meal and then send him drinking with his pals. When he returns she must be dressed in her naughtiest negligee and look her most beautiful. The following evening, she does exactly as instructed and is dressed to kill by the time her husband returns.
When he sees her lying on the bed in all her gear, he tells her to stand up and take it all off. He then tells her to do a handstand against the bathroom mirror and open her legs. This excites the woman immensely, as her husband has never been this erotic before. She does as instructed, and then he puts his face between her legs, faces the mirror and says, “No, no… Maybe the lads are right. A beard wouldn’t suit me,”
Put Your Money Where Your Bits Are! (Humour)
This deaf mute strolls into a chemist’s shop to buy a pack of condoms.
Unfortunately, the mute cannot see any of his required brand on the shelves, and the chemist, unable to decipher sign language, fails to understand what the man wants. Frustrated; the deaf mute decides to take drastic action: he unzips his trousers and drops his bits on the counter, before placing a NI ,000 note next to it. Nodding, the chemist unzips his own trousers, performs the same manoeuvres, as the mute, then picks up both notes and stuff them in his pockets.
Exasperated, the deaf mute begins to curse the chemist with a wild gesturing of his arms. “Sorry,” – the chemist says, shrugging his shoulders. “But if you can’t afford to lose, you shouldn’t gamble.”