Nkem Says: Can We Talk About Something Other Than Your Children?

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I have nothing against kids. I must let you know that from this outset. In fact, I wish I could go back to being one right now: I’d get fed, bathed and given a lot of things for free; I’d be celebrated, adored and cuddled even when I am not in the mood for it …but that’s okay – it’s better than having to play games and beg for it now. I would have someone always cleaning up after me and cooking my meals for free, and when I do make a mess or tell a lie, it would be cute. No one would break up with me over it or talk behind my back. When I throw a tantrum or kick up a fuss over the most minute and stupid thing, I’d be pacified and given treats.

What wouldn’t I give to be a child again?

But, being an adult right now who is single, no kids yet and overworked, if you want company or even my friendship, please spare me the harping on about your kids.

A colleague and I had a Facetime conversation, a couple of days ago, to discuss how I could assist with a project he was working on and possibly draft a schedule for coaching sessions; but somehow, he managed to include a detail about his 26-month old son (who I must say is a “terrible two”) in every aspect of our conversation. Every single communication involved a logistic around his son, Otito: how he has had to child-proof his home; how Otito is so big, clothes for his age do not fit him; the way his heart is broken every time Otito refers to his wife as mummy, but calls him by his name, Peter; and how he needs to schedule Otito’s next haircut. At first, I was trying to be polite as the expectation is that you act all nice and say that anything regarding a baby is cute; but before long, my face constricted into a frown because I was not particularly interested in a blow-by-noseblow account of his son. I just needed to know the times he wanted to meet. I was close to screaming: WTF?!

I have nephews, if I wanted to chat about kids, I would call my mother and ask her about her grandchildren. Why did I have to also endure the ranting about a child by someone who ostensibly needed my help? And thinking back, every other conversation with this person over the last couple of months has been similar. We’d become allies of sorts, but I still know little about him because we never get beyond Otito. It left me wondering why I have this man in my life at all.

Did he even wonder how his going on and on about his kid would make me feel even for a second? Besides being irritated and ready to curse him out, there were lingering feelings of inadequacy.

I felt left out.

I want to have a child I will also dote on, but perhaps it is not my portion at this time. I am single. I am unmarried. I should be able to mull over these things in my own private time, and not be forced to deal with that reality while discussing work as well!

Okay. Maybe I am being extra, and the feeling of being left out only came as a whiff… but if there is a chance your side talk would have that effect on me, and your intention is to seek my assistance, why would you be so inconsiderate and self-centered?

Certainly, I am not saying that you cannot talk about things or people that are important to you. Small talk is nice, it even brings people closer, but it would be great if you can strive for relevance and connection. Think about it, it takes two people in sync to make an interesting or even germane conversation. If you are there to talk about work with someone who does not have a kid, refrain for making 80% of the conversation about that and instead talk about the things you both have in common, for instance, you both breathe in air, you work with the same company and you both live in a country called Nigeria. The list is long. Spare them the tedium of talking about your child. You must have a handful of people in your social circle who do have kids, save this gist for them!

Thank You.

Written by: Nkem Ndem, a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for online writing(web content and blog) and editing, screenwriting, ghost writing, copy proofreading and reviews. She has since worked with Jumia, SpiceTV Africa, Bella Naija and Glam Africa. Check out her Instagram: @kem_dem, twitter: @ndemv and snapchat:@ndemv. Email: nkemndemv@gmail.com

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