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Last week, I had a conversation with some teens who will next week be going back to school after the school holidays. I learnt that I am clueless on what our teens really think, want or feel. I have always assumed the visiting days are the ones that matter most to high school teens - after all, they counted for a lot in my time. They asked me to write a letter to their parents who might be as clueless as I am so that they understand their expectations during this return to school season.

Dear Parents,

We shall be going back to school in a few days. We know you are happy about that because we have heard you complain about how  high your food budget has become and we are tired of your numerous scolding sessions.

We have noticed that you like to pay a lot of attention to Visiting Days but as you know Matiang’i and Magoha changed many things- so they are not all that they used to be.

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So, we ask you to please focus on how you take us back to school because it counts for a lot and determines how much swag we have and how even our teachers and support staff treat us.

For starters, we ask that if you must drop us in school, please do so in a car preferably those big fuel guzzlers and one that has a functional sound system so that that we can blast loud music as we get into school.

In the event you have no car of your own, please make alternative arrangements - use Fuliza or Mshwari to get some cash to hire a car - just do not drop us using public service vehicles.

We are willing to consider using PSVs while alone but not when in your company since this gives us the opportunity to hang out with our friends and the matatu crew usually give us free rides (especially if you are a high school girl). We also prefer that you drop us as late as possible, as close to the deadline as possible. In case you did not know it, early drop offs make us seem like we are goody two shoes – we do not like that kind of reputation so please drop us as late as possible, as close to the curfew time as possible.

Secondly, please ensure that you get us one new highly visible thing every time we go back to school. Just in case this is not clear, make sure we have noticeably new things such as shoes, sweaters, glasses; anything that makes our classmates believe that we are loaded.

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We are willing to even consider second hand shoes and garments as long as they are making a first-time appearance when we return to school this time round.

Thirdly, we need you to pay serious attention to the shopping list because for us it is the ultimate status symbol. We have heard and seen you many times deleting what you consider to be non-essential purchases off our shopping list.

We need to tell you that these items are critical and essential to our well being and happy life while in high school. For instance, the quantity and quality of things like biscuits, deodorants, soaps and even sanitary towels impacts heavily on our social ranking in school.

Employing the kadogo approach when it comes to doing our shopping is heart breaking - we get ulcers and break out into pimples every time we think of being seen using kadogo stuff in school.

We urge you to also stop telling us about the economy for we really do not care, plus we did not ask to be born and yes, we have noticed your new phones, how much you spend on your drinks and nyama choma - you are  not broke, just stingy!

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We prefer quick drop offs in school, where you drop us as fast as possible (no need to hang around). Yet if you must hang around, please spend your time wisely speaking to stakeholders who can change our lives. You may not know it, but we think your time is better spent chatting with the matron, cateress, head chef than with our teachers. We do not need more supervision from our teachers, we just need food and sleep.

Finally, it is in our ‘social capital’ interest to break school laws every now and then. The “high” and notoriety that comes with being on the wrong side of the law is priceless. Brace yourself for there will be times when we will go back to school with uncompleted holiday homework, with banned cell phones and illegal substances like herbs and liquor.

We have developed a thick skin to deal with your screams and shouts for being suspended because we know our peers will think we are the real Wamlambez-Wamnyonyez crew.

Closely related to this is the very obvious fact that you need to send us back to school with sufficient pocket money. If you do not, we might resort to certain illegal behaviours to fund our lifestyle.

So, as you take us back to school, we ask that you carefully consider our requests. Please bear in mind that you once were teenagers who desired nothing more than to be part of the in-crew.

This season we know will pass but, in the meantime, please oblige us.

Best Regards, Back to School Teen

- [email protected]

Teenagers Parenting Schools
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