You only have to go on holiday, and spend time around other parents and their children, to realise how parenting has gone straight to the dogs.
The number of spoilt kids out there is gobsmacking. I don’t know what times the guy who said kids are angles was living in, but the kids of this generation are ogres; little devils without tails; tyrants who are holding their parents at ransom.
I saw them in the dining hall, scooting about, bumping into tables, tipping cups over, lifting buns off other diners’ saucers, brandishing butter knifes in the faces of strangers, pinching other kids, grabbing their toys or crying over them, yelling and causing a ruckus, starting fights in pools, starting fights in the children’s playrooms.
These kids are perpetually angry at themselves, angry at other people and angry at the world. And all this while their parents sat there hunched over iPads, busy updating their social media accounts. Parenting has gone to the dogs, I tell you!
I hate ill-mannered kids. I have very little patience for them. You know how someone’s three-year-old kid would waddle over to your sun deck by the pool and grab your kid’s toy, demanding to go with it, and the right thing for a Kenyan citizen to do is to smile politely, apologetically, and say, “no, toto, you have to share”, because we grew up in Moi’s era and he preached tolerance, “amani and upendo” for each other? I have no time for such diplomacy.
I will growl at the little devil and say, “Toto, go jump in the pool and never come back!” And the kid will look at me like I’m satan and walk away slowly on the verge of tears.
I don’t care if he tells his parents, who will give me withering looks later over dinner at the restaurant. Life is too short to suffer ill-mannered kids or their parents, for that matter.
I once saw this four-year-old boy stand by the swimming pool and actually pee in it as the parents watched while lying back on their sun decks.
It was one of those posh resorts (I was working) and the parents seemed wealthy because they looked all pampered and overweight and spoke like TD Jakes. I remember the dad chuckling from his deck-bed saying, “Hey, little man, that’s wrong. That’s wrong little man, aww come on!”
It was as if he was in an episode of Bernie Mack Show and he was Bernie himself, and it was all for laughs.
I mean, we all pee in pools, it’s not like a little stream of piss will make someone blind, but to actually watch that boy pee and the parents just lie there not lifting a finger because they are the first black folk who are dying for a tan just broke my heart.
There are parents who mistake yelling and tantrums in kids for confidence.
They pick these weird pieces of advice on parenting online, on Facebook groups and these foreign shows of kids being allowed to act up and speak at their parents and steal other diners’ buns as a way of building their self-confidence because it is a way of self-expression. Such bollocks!
We also don’t spend enough time with these kids.
We throw them at teachers and at maids and when we finally find ourselves with them on holidays we suddenly realise we don’t even know what to do with them.
And these children are winning this war, dear parents.
We are throwing them under the bus by allowing them to be brats, because that’s what they are. They aren’t confident, they are brats! I say discipline your rotten kids, for chrissake.
I almost suspect that there will be some self-righteous parents here who will write letters to the editor asking, “On what moral ground does Biko tell us how to raise our children with his dated opinions? Can’t the Nation find decent writers anymore?” Well, save your breaths. I can afford to say this because I’m a parent too and if your fat child steals my bun, trust me I will say it. Nobody steals my buns!
On my flight back I shared a flight with this kind of parents and their kids, sitting on the seat behind.
The child kept beating up his little brother, and they kept fighting and screaming and then he would stick his head between my seat and scream in my ear and I would feel drops of saliva falling on my back; he also rocked my chair, successfully interrupting my reading.
But I ignored it because I was raised in a Christian home and God says we should love all children because they are his.
So I stared ahead and thought of the beach; and a breeze. And baba Moi’s wise counsel. And as I sat there I thought, wouldn’t it be grand if this was 1956 when children were raised by a whole village?
Because I’d turn in my seat and push my snort into that little rascal’s face and hiss, “Sit your ratchet-bum down and eat your yoghurt, and not one word from you, young man!”
And he would slither down in his seat, shell-shocked because in all his four years on earth he has never been talked down at, least of all by a stranger.
Discipline the kids
Then I’d turn to the parents and nod, “Hallo folks, enjoying the flight?” And his mother, with a thin sneer would turn her snooty nose away and mumble, “Well, we were!”
Look, nobody cares how you raise your child. That’s your business. Nobody cares if they turn into miscreants and brigands.
That would be your failure. But if your spoilt children intrude in the space of others and violate that space then we all have a right of comment.
I say discipline these kids. Pinch them! Make it hurt. Don’t be afraid to pinch your kids when they throw themselves on supermarket floors because they want a toy worth Sh7, 000 and it’s the 17th of the month. Pinch the little devils.
They won’t die. They won’t develop a fever from a mere pinch. They won’t develop self-esteem issues either.
But if you watched too much “Cosby Show” then take punitive measures; no TV, have them stand facing the wall in a naughty corner or have them sing the national anthem thrice and then two more times in Swahili.
And no more buns for them. Let’s do more to raise these kids than put their pictures up on Facebook for complete strangers to “like”.
Happy New Year, modern parents!