I am more attentive to my non-verbal cues. It is true, children rarely miss anything; they are like a sponge, soaking up most things around them. PHOTO | FILE
A couple of months ago, I arrived home with a new hairdo, only for my four-year-old son to announce, “Mummy, hiyo nywele yako ni mbaya!” He thought my hair looked terrible.
I was of course taken aback since my hair was the last thing I would have expected him to notice – children are more concerned about what you have bought them, right? I also wondered what had made him arrive at that conclusion. Curious, and a little bit wounded by his brutal assessment, I asked him why he didn’t like my hair.
“It looks like mathogothanio…” he answered without missing a beat. Now, in my mother tongue, that tongue twister means messy scribbling – to visualise it better, think of a bowl of boiled spaghetti.
Since children rarely lie for the sake of it, I took a second and third look at what I had thought was a master piece, and did not like what I saw.
However, since the hairdo had not come cheap, I decided to vumilia it for at least two weeks – those two weeks were perhaps the longest of my life, and whenever someone looked at me, I was convinced they were looking at my mathogothanio, and wondering what I had been thinking.
That incident with my son opened my eyes to just how perceptive children are, and how, unlike us, are unpretentious, and will call it as they see it, with absolutely no ill motive.
Another day, he surprised me by asking why I was angry. Wondering how he could possibly tell that something was bothering me, I automatically answered that I wasn’t angry, only for him to insist that I was.
Eventually, I asked why he thought so, only for him to frown and screw up his face, and point out that that was what I looked like. I ended up bursting out laughing because he looked so comical. Nowadays, I am more attentive to my non-verbal cues. It is true, children rarely miss anything; they are like a sponge, soaking up most things around them.
A few days ago, a colleague had us roaring with laughter when she showed us a composition her seven-year-old son had written. It was titled, “My Parents” and, in the paragraph describing her, he had declared that she is a “newspaper vendor”.
There is nothing wrong with this, only that my colleague is an editor. She normally carries her newspapers home, and her son, who clearly has a developed vocabulary, assumed that her mother sells newspapers for a living which is not very far from the truth, when you think about it.
That said, my colleague is planning to bring her son to work one day, so that he can understand what she really does.
In another instance, a friend had gone with her five-year-old daughter to the supermarket when the little one spotted a toy she liked. When she asked for it, this friend explained that there was no money to buy it, but her daughter had a solution – why not get some at the “machine in the wall” where people get money from?
The amused mother tried to explain that it did not work that way, but of course her daughter did not understand one bit of the explanation, and assumed that her mother was just being mean.
How I wish all we needed to do to get money was press a button on a machine in the wall!