Please forgive me for repeating myself but I have to mention again about the answers to life’s questions being found in the Bible. Sometimes those answers are as plain as day, whilst at other times, one has to dig as if treasure hunting for what was initially thought to be simplistic. The journey is worth the effort as both the process and the end result are enlightening.
In that book in Ecclesiastes we are told that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to sow and a time to reap. Today’s focus is on a time to speak and a time to keep silent. Oh, that this was one of the social skills our children picked up as easily as they do waving, smiling or eating. I am quite sure of all you reading this article have been either a witness to or an unwilling participant in a scenario in which a child speaks at the wrong time. I have just decided to share a few experiences of my family and friends with their children.
A friend of mine was recently promoted and with that well-deserved promotion came a luxurious company vehicle. After an event one evening, my friend placed her daughter and son in the back seat and was graciously taking home an older lady. The older lady was very ‘hoity-toity’ and was obviously impressed by the vehicle and perhaps silently associated it with some recent largess in my friend’s bank account. Little did she know that was far from the truth. During their conversation where the older lady was politely prying, the little girl pipes up from the back and asks her mother, ‘Why is it that we don’t have enough money to go away?’ Despite several sharp elbows to her side by an older brother, the little girl continued to bemoan their state of poverty and enquired as to when it would change. I am sure that her mother wished she had left her daughter at home that evening!
Another family was riding in their trusty chariot if ever there was an exaggeration! The car rattled with such ferocity that one expected that it would collapse at any minute. In addition, it had recently developed this bad habit of cutting out at will, without warning. On this fateful occasion, an older sister sat in the back with her brother. As they were giving a ride to a gentleman, the mom graciously gave her front seat to him as he would have more leg room, and less cramp from the embarrassing array of toys, books, shoes, and socks that cluttered the floor at the back. Before the gentleman entered the vehicle, the dad and mom quietly chuckled their hope that the car would behave itself and not cut out. Things went well until about two-thirds of the way the engine stalled and the car indeed cut out. The engine was quickly restarted and the kind passenger himself a handyman wondered if this happened often. The father brushed it aside and started to say it was not a frequent occurrence. Sadly, before he could elucidate on how often it did happen, loudly from the back rang out, ‘Our car breaks down all the time! We have to pull over to the side and stop and then my daddy starts it back’. No amount of elbowing from his older sister or attempted muzzling from his mother stopped the little champion from finishing his declaration.
We leave the vehicles just for a bit and move to a mall. A mother and her young son were heading to a mall and she decided to stop at an ATM to see what funds she might procure. Upon completion of the transaction, she realised that she had not yet been paid, and as such, she was unable to access any funds from the machine at that time. She cautioned her son, ‘Now son, when we get outside, you are not to say anything about mummy not getting any money from the machine.’ He immediately agreed and they proceeded to venture back to the car. As they were walking back a lady was walking towards the ATM. Her son chose that inopportune moment to ask ‘Mummy, how come we did not get any money from the machine?’ The lady asked whether the machine was working. Well, I must applaud my friend for thinking quickly on her feet. She responded ‘You go ahead and try your card, cause my card is from a different bank so the system might be down!’
My friends seem to have interesting lives. Once upon a time, another friend was riding with her siblings and son along a major road, which happened to be crowded with both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The adults in the car looking ahead noticed a lady who was pleasantly plump and had apparently squeezed herself into a black-and-white striped spandex number. They likened her to an over-sized zebra and spent much of the time crawling in traffic laughing at the poor lady. Calamity strikes! At the same time, their slowly moving vehicle reached the lady in the black and white outfit, the little boy stuck his head outside the car window and shouted, “Where de zebra mummy? I don’t see nuh zebra! Wha’ part it is?” We laughed for days after hearing this one.
We have certainly moved from an era where children were to be seen and not heard. However, it is very true that ‘little pitchers have big ears’. I do not believe that any amount of training and preparation and admonishments can ever eliminate the inopportune proclamations of our children. Did I really say our? I have had my fair share of experiencing children who did not censor their words before allowing them to pass the portal of their lips. However, we must not be deterred in our efforts to train our children in the way they should go!
(Renee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)