Sometime 2 years ago, I was in a hair salon sitting comfortably in the comfort of the air conditioner and also trying to accomodate the pain that came with making my hair.
5 minutes later into the making of my hair, a girl of about 10 years of age, walked into the salon.
This salon was a regular salon. It wasn’t very fanciful and tushed up. It was just normal and okay for a second class citizen.
Vera is the owner and the only hair stylist on ground, of the 10 year old hair salon. Vera had been sustaining herself and her family through it which served as the major reason why she couldn’t afford to employ other hair stylists or even tush up the salon.
Still wondering how and why this young girl was left to go to a hair salon all by herself, the girl got up from where she sat and came closer to me. She greeted the hairstylist in vernacular (Igbo Language) and in my little understanding of that language, I could tell that this little girl was the hairstylist’s daughter. After, about 2 mins, the little girl turned away and began to walk back to the chair at the back of the salon and the next thing I saw was blood coming out of her mouth.
Her mom had given her 3 heavy slaps on her lips for not greeting me. I jumped up in fear. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I screamed “what kind of a mother are you? You did this just because she didn’t greet me? Couldn’t you have just scolded, corrected or reminded her to greet? what do you gain from this?”
She didn’t even give attention to what I was saying rather she pulled the little girl’s ear so hard that it turned red immediately. Then she dragged her to the toilet and locked her up.
I was dumbfounded. I just walked back to my seat dazed at what had just happened. After pondering on it for a while I concluded within me that her reaction may have been due to stress.2 months later, I guess I had probably forgotten the incident that happened the other day I was there to make my hair. I got into the salon and she was full of smiles. I told her what I had in mind to be done to my hair and the hair styling process began. It was a Saturday and, all three of her children were there with her.
After she was done with my hair, she asked the older one to pass a jar to her, so she could apply the content to my hair but the youngest one who was about 6 to 7 year old ran to where the jar was and decided to give it to her Mom instead. As she walked towards us, she missed her step and fell down. Luckily for her, both the Jar and its content were intact so she got up and continued her journey to us. She handed it over to her Mom and the next thing I heard was a very hard knock on the head of this child.
I jumped up on seeing how this little girl rolled on the floor in bitter and painful tears.
At that moment I remembered what she did to the older one the last time I was there to make my hair and so I yelled at her… “What has she done this time Madam?”
But she told me to mind my business and that she didn’t need my help in looking after her children. Then, she looked at the little girl on the floor and said “you are lucky that the Jar didn’t break because you’d have seen hell”
I rushed the little girl from the floor and carried her in my hands with tears dripping down my eyes. How could a mother be this wicked. After calming the little girl down I looked at the Mom who was sitting comfortably, looking unconcerned as she scrolled through her phone.
I began to think of what I could do to put an end to this molestation and then it occurred to me… . It occurred to me that I could get her arrested. So I called out to her, “Madam, I think you owe the police an explanation for molesting these kids” She was surprised at that statement, then she went down on her knees and began to beg me not to call the police on her.
I saw this as the perfect time to get her to tell me why she was that cruel to her kids. All this while, all three children were around me and the middle child had whispered into my ears “Aunty, please take us home with you” which actually prompted my decision to call the police.
While she was still on her knees begging I asked her the reason for her wicked behaviour and then she began to tell her story…
“HHMMMM, 6 years after I was born my mom died and my father married another woman who was very cruel to me. This woman did to me 5 times more than what I do to my kids. She starved me for days and some times weeks. Other times, she deprived me from going to school and would beat me blue-black for any little mistake I made. But whenever my father was around, she would always pretend to be nice to me. I tried reporting to him times without number but he never ever believed me because of the very nice way she treated me whenever he was around. Apart from that, he was also under the intoxication and blinding effects of love which made it very easy for her to deceive him.
I never interacted with my step siblings and was made to sleep in the parlour like a house girl in my own father’s house. He wasn’t always around because of the nature of his job. Sometimes he would be away for as long as 3 months. I had to flow with her pretence whenever he was around just so that I wouldn’t get beaten up later on. And that was how things were until I lost my dad at age 17.
I was sent out of the house to cater for myself. I struggled all alone to get to where I am today. It wasn’t easy at all. I was full of self hate and hatred for life.
I love my kids but whenever they make me angry, I beat them that way because I feel there is no other way to correct a child and that my been treated that way ended up making me strong and very hardworking. My step mom never treated her kids that way and they were very lazy, dirty, and spoilt. I know its painful but I do not want my children to be lazy, dirty and spoilt and I do not also know any other way to bring the best out of them and make them disciplined and well behaved.” she said. All through her narration, her knees were still on the ground. So I made her sit and then I told her that she may have had good intentions but the truth of the matter is that she was actually letting out her self hate and hatred for life on these kids. On hearing this she began to cry.
I asked her how she would feel if her husband maltreated her in the way she does to her kids and she said that she would feel not loved. I asked again, if her husband treats her with love and she said Yes. Then I asked if her husband corrects her and if he does it with love and she said Yes.
Then I told her that she can never compare a training from a mom and that from a stranger because both of them can never show love to a child the same way.
Every child sees their mom as everything and are 100% dependent on their parents. A child may cope with ill treatments from strangers but the one that comes from a parent can be very devastating to that child.
That child may end up becoming worse than a child who was spoilt because he or she would become hate and rejection driven in anything they do.
There is a difference between spoiling a child and loving a child. Spoiling a child means condoning naughtiness from that child and not taking effective corrective methods that suits the child’s personality; one that the child can relate to, to ensure that he drops whatever naughty attitude he may seem to display.
Every child have their unique personality. Some are very emotional while some seem very tough etc Learn your child’s interests and tow that line when you need to correct.
But never allow any other method replace “talking”. Always talk to your children not like a teacher but like a parent who loves and believes in them.
2 years later, I came into town and decided to go to my old neighborhood to make my hair. Vera was amazed to see me and she was full of gratitude for the talk I had with her concerning the way she treated her children. She told me that she also discovered that most times all we do is correct and never get to support these tender ones all the way through the entire correction process.
Most kids are not really disobedient or hardened per say. They respect their parents and want to do what their parents want them to do but we end up flogging them and beating them up without making out time to teach and guide them on how to go about the desired change that we want.
You help them become more mature when you guide them to willingly do what they should have done by compulsion.
As she kept talking, her three children who had just returned from school walked into the salon. They greeted their mom with joy and ran towards me, thanking me for changing their mom.
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