Two mortifying events that happened yesterday have driven me to blog again. One incident was with my toddler son and the other is about an otherwise loving companion – a dog.
Yesterday, I saw my kids off to the bus. They are attending summer school as a way to keep them engaged this long holiday since we can’t afford a vacation, I’m only six months in on my new 9-5. Besides, we thought this would be a good way to slowly ease my younger toddler into formal school since she resumes at her brother’s next month. So, back to my story.
I walk them to the bus holding an alternate pair of sandals for big brother because I didn’t like the one his nanny wore him. He was in the bus, a bit far from the door so I called:
“Chuchu, come let me change your foot wear.” (His name is Chukwuebuka in full and it translates ‘God is the almighty’)
My three years and five months old got up, stood at his distance, and began wagging his index finger on his right hand. Not necessarily at me but he has seen me use the gesture to emphasize points or issue him stern rebukes. He said (with an accent I still don’t know where it belongs):
“I am not Chuchu in here. In the house? (he points to the gate) Yes. I am not Chuchu on the bus.”
I was transfixed and befuddled. I had never heard my toddler speak that way before. I looked at the bus driver and aunty perplexed while they smiled it off. I asked him what he just said and he repeated the same lines all over again as clearly as never.
“So, what are you in here?” I asked.
“E-bu-ka!” he answered. I then asked Ebuka to come change his shoes and he obliged.
I call my children pet names that are derived from their first names. Ebuka is most times Chuchu and Olanna is Nana. Ebuka actually had different 2-syllabled pet names before it morphed to Chuchu which is now a bit more consistent. Olanna has always been Nana. My son’s reprimand of me was startling and unnerved me a bit. I had never heard Ebuka speak so clearly and articulately.
He would ‘baby’ a lot in the house just to parry attention away from his sister. He’d struggle to retrieve his toys from his sister and ask to be carried sometimes. Many times, he’d have to repeat himself over and over just so I can make out his words sometimes. And that’s because of a mixture of his funny accent and baby talking. Sometimes, he’d even point rather than speak.
But this Tuesday was different. And the first message straight for my heart was, ‘this is no longer a baby.’ For the first time, I felt like I had a kid to train and not a baby to nurse. In that second, I realised the need to be more deliberate in my child raising. While I turned this in my head and began the journey to my office same morning, I called the dad to share my shock (since he leaves home pretty early most mornings). I was still finding the words when I witnessed perhaps the most coldblooded event ever.
The security guys on my street were ganged up against a dog and one aimed a big plank for it, killing it straight away! I watched it all. I was screaming and so shaken and was narrating to my husband on the phone in the same second that one of the men dragged the body across the road right in front of me. I had to roll down the glass to engage one of the perpetrators.
“Why did you people kill the dog?
“Madam, it has been disturbing us since. It will come in the night and be making noise, disturbing. Nobody get the dog.”
“Sebi, una for drive am commot for the estate instead of killing.”
“Ma, we don try. Him dey always come back,” he answered.
And thus, the poor stray dog was killed. In that instant, I wished Nigeria had animal protection services that could have been called to pick the dog or even receive the dog if one volunteered to bring it over. It felt almost like jungle justice. It was jungle justice. Nigeria still has a long way to go with regards placing value on breathing beings.
PS – I returned to finish this piece on Saturday.