While going to work yesterday, a little boy of about 8yrs old, dragged his father towards me. “Daddy sees
that uncle I told you about,” he said, with a smile on his face. His father extended his hand for a handshake, and in the process of giving him mine, he thanked me for helping their child the other day.
“Thank you for the correction,” he began; “my wife would have thanked you too, but she’s not around – she’s not proud of what she did,” he ended.
Some days ago, I had seen the boy crying, while heading to school. At a point, he stopped around our gate, and leaned against the wall of our fence. I had noticed his sober state, because I forgot a file at home, and was heading home to pick it. Looking at him, I asked his reason for the tears.
“My mother said I should not disturb her,” he said.
“Is that why you’re crying; what did you do to her?”
“She just said I should go to school and leave the house,” he replied, sauntering.
“She did not even say anything after I told her my classmates were calling me ugly boy,” he added.
I furthered my questions and found out he was being bullied by four boys who were fond of calling him “ugly boy.”
He had spoken to his mother about it, and the woman dismissed him repeatedly. He was heartbroken the morning I saw him near our gate, and it was the mother’s fault. He didn’t want to go to school that day – no use going to face the same devils that will torment him.
I smiled and thought of something to help him. “Do you know those boys are wrong?”
“I don’t know, “he said, having simultaneously stopped his sulking.
“Tell them you’re the most handsome boy in your street!” I told him.
“But Uncle, am I a fine boy?” he asked.
“Of course, you are. Tell them the uncle in your street likes you – that he said you’re a very fine boy,” I replied.
You could see the once teary face lightening itself up. Gloom was driven away, and happiness was born alongside confidence. I made hm understand that it doesn’t matter what they say. Told him he was a handsome boy, and shouldn’t let anyone tell him otherwise.
Took him home to meet his mother, and she was ashamed of having caused him such sorrow by neglecting him. Made her understand the importance of boosting the confidence of their children. She blamed her mistake on “mood swing,” but I made her understand that you can’t be having it always, seeing that it wasn’t the first time she’s doing that to him.
I told her a little about my childhood.
In the 90s, I remember leaving Lagos for Aba to continue my primary education. Being in a new school environment wasn’t easy for me, so I had to be an observer first. I was naturally a quiet kid, and I had two pupils who were always annoying me.
“Deaf and dumb” the other called me, because I hardly spoke.
My father had to report the kid to my teacher, who, in her own stupidity, was of the opinion that I was extremely quiet for her liking.
“Just be teaching, he’s listening,” my father said.
“Also ask him questions if you want to be sure he’s not dumb,” he added.
The teacher apologized because she knew that at that point, she was undeserving of being in her profession. When I took the second position in my first term at the school, most teachers started liking me. I kept repeating it in subsequent terms, and would even take the first position in some academic sessions. It became obvious that I was more of an observer, not that I was actually dumb. I spoke on few occasions, and some kids liked me that way, while others sought for ways to tamper with my temperament. But the words of encouragement and strength from my parents, made my self-esteem higher than that of most pupils – I would just smile at the ones that didn’t like me, and consider them to be unimportant.
So, seeing the boy happy with his father today, and judging by what the man said about his wife, I’m of the impression that they’ve addressed the situation.
I have noticed some parents don’t even know if their children are being bullied or not, because there’s no child psychology in them, not to mention the supposed parent-child intimacy.
Some Nigerian Parents need to do better.
Opinion by: Edward Amah