By Bunmi Sofola
Will every parent ever be able to take the trauma of their adolescent girl’s climb to puberty in their stride? One minute she’s in braids and school uniform, the next she’s dressed and acting like a prospective Nollywood Star!. Amarachi, a typical modern day mum of two teenage girls and a grown up son prided herself on being a well-grounded mum and brooked no nonsense from her kids. “I might have been born with the so-called proverbial silver-spoon but my mum never hesitated in thumping us whenever we got out of line”, she said. “We were all a bit afraid of her and tried as much as possible not to give her the opportunity to put a lump of disapproval on our scalps through her knuckles.
“Thanks to her, I thought I was as stern with our kids until a few weeks ago when I opened my laptop to discover that Joyce my last child had inadvertently left her Fackbook and other social networking sites logged on. Unbeknown to her, I was able to see right in front of me everything she and her friends had written in recent weeks. It’s happened before whenever she’s failed to subscribe to her I-Phone and had to use my laptop – affording me the rare opportunity to have surreptitious check on her increasing private adolescent world.
“Only things were different this time. In place of the usual banter, peppered with infuriating teenage acronyms, was a stream of comments, crystal clear in their meaning. They were vicious and cruel observations attacking Joyce for what she’d worn on her recent 16th birthday party.
“Some of the girls told her, in no uncertain terms that she’d dressed like a `slut, a `tart with no self-respect’ and that her parents must be ashamed to have a daughter who `looked like a prostitute’. The attacks on my daughter were part of a new trend known as `slut shaming’ fuelled by blogging websites which teenagers post vicious criticisms online, targeting peers they deem to be dressing too provocative or wearing too much make-up.
“I was shocked and deeply upset to see my daughter being bullied like this – yet deep down, I couldn’t help feeling her accusers had a point. For on the day of her `6th birthday, Joyce had dressed too provocatively. The outfit she’d chosen to wear, without my consent, had utterly floored me. I should have seen this coming though. last year, she’d transformed almost overnight from a little girl into a tall adolescent with impressive boobs and an amazing figure – which she seems hell-bent on exposing as much as possible. As a result, it’s practically impossible for her to leave the house whenever she’s on holidays without a fierce alteration. I would yell: `You’re not going out dressed like that, put more clothes on!’ She would stomp upstairs to change, before shoving the offending outfit into her bag – no doubt to put back on the moment I’ve vanished from sight.
“I should have been firmer about her birthday outfit, but the problem is Joyce has become clever about getting her own way, and on her birthday, she had a few of her friends over helping her to get ready.
“When she eventually came down the stairs, she looked exactly like everything we all loathe about the crazy modern girl. She was wearing a really short and tight mini skirt I’d never seen before and a skimpy top with panels revealing her midriff. In her hand she was carrying a pair of 6inch heels she was intending to slip on when her guests started arriving. Quite simply put, my daughter looked like she was far more sexually aware than she actually is.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the courage, or the heart, to lecture her about the dangers of dressing this way just minutes before the start of her long-awaiting party and in front of her friends. Instead, I reassured myself that she was just experimenting with fashion and that on this occasion – thank God – it was to be in a controlled environment where I would be present. I hurriedly poured some wine down my throat., fixed a smile to my face and took a picture of her in her birthday outfit.
“Looking at that picture now, I can see the expression on her face is part defiance, part uncertainty. She wanted my approval and for me to tell her she looked lovely (which I just couldn’t manage). At the same time, she was pretending she couldn’t care less what I thought.
Desperate for a younger person’s view, I discussed the barrage of Facebook attacks on teenagers with a friend;s daughter who is an IT executive at a bank. She told me most users of the network don’t see these vitriolic comments as bullying. “This is just normal amongst some youths these days”, she said as if wiser than her age. “Everyone is horrible to everyone else. I wouldn’t make rude comments about other people but there are girls out there who will, because they know they can get away with it. It’s the same as the people who comment on your articles as a journalist. They are rude about you because they can remain anonymous. They’d never say half the stuff they put on your e-mail to your face.”
All in a day’s work! (Humour)
A small van loaded with glassware was trying to back into a narrow gate-way, but the driver couldn’t manage it, and the van crashed into one of the gate-posts, smashing most of the loads to slivers. The driver jumped out to examine the damage. As a crowd gathered, he seemed almost in tears. A kindly old man said to him, “Will you have to make do the damage out of your own pocket?”.
“I’m afraid so.” “Dear me, dear me!”, said the old chap. `I’ll tell you what I’’ll do.” And he took off his hat and put some money into it. “I’ll take up a collection. I’m sure some of these good people will help you out too”. And the old gent managed to collect a respectable sum from the crowd, which has grown to quite a size. The crash was handed over, and the old chap hailed a taxi and departed. Looking after the disappearing taxi, the driver said, “that’s what I called a really sharp operator”, “why do you say that?, asked one of the donors. “He’s my boss”.