When she tries to play me against her mama!

Children are smart. They know their parents. They know who’s the bad cop and who’s the good cop. They know who to go to when they need something. And, if you are not careful or attentive, they can play you against one another. 

Ever since schools closed for these holidays, our daughter’s friends have been trooping to our home like it is their headquarters. 

When Pudd’ng’s girlfriends come to our crib, they hang out for a little bit, before baby girl asks me for permission for her to go out with her buddies.

Save for one time when Pudd’ng stopped doing a chore I had asked her to, and instead hang out with her friends, I have never denied Pudd’ng permission to go out with her friends. 

SEE ALSO :To the boy sending my little girl texts

“We’re just around the neighbourhood,” Pudd’ng always says. Or she will tell me that she is with her friends in the next court. 

Me? I have never had reason to doubt her. I keep telling her that it’s better to tell the truth, because lies always, eventually, come out. 

Mama’s got eyes 

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Tenderoni is just like my mother. She has eyes all over the neighbourhood, and even beyond. 

Apparently, when I have been giving our daughter permission to go out with her friends, she and her buddies have been walking all around the neighbourhood. Which does not sit well with Tenderoni. 

SEE ALSO :They don’t realise I was once ‘cool’

And that’s why, three days ago, mama issued an edict to her daughter: no more walking around like you are “mtu wa mari kwa mari.” 

For those not in the know, mari kwa mari are itinerant barter traders who make rounds in many neighbourhoods in Kenya, carrying plastic household items, which they barter for old clothes.  

When Tenderoni likened our daughter to a ‘mari kwa mari’ trader, my mind went into overdrive. I imagined Pudd’ng and her pals walking in the neighbourhood carrying all manner of plastic items and shouting, in little girlie voices, to attract the attention of folks in the neighbourhood.

“Why are you laughing?” Tenderoni asked me, as Pudd’ng looked at me weirdly. 

“It’s nothing.”

I knew that if I let out what was in my mind, the sensitive little girl would “unfriend” me ... for a couple of minutes. 

Walking around the neighbourhood may seem harmless. But my wife and I know that kids do not just get into trouble, sometimes their legs lead them straight into trouble or harm’s way. Sometimes when I got into trouble, my mama would scream, I told you to, “hori mos”; which means, “be still.  

Nice try

A day after Tenderoni issued her no-walking-around-the-neighbourhood edict, Pudd’ng tried to make me reverse it. Which is why it’s not only good to be on the same page with your spouse, in matters of discipline, but also be attentive when your spouse is disciplining your children. 

When Tenderoni is disciplining Pudd’ng, I never interfere. I am the softie and, even when an offence demanded it, I always found it hard to spank baby girl. I know Pudd’ng knows this. She knows that, just like her, I am sensitive. 

Even before Pudd’ng tried to make me reverse mama’s judgment, she tried to “soften” me with questions like ...

“Is there anything that you want me to do for you?”  

“Dad, are you okay?”

And then when her friends came over, and they were about to leave, she asked me the big question: “Can I go out with my friends?”

Nice try. 

“What did my wife tell you about this same matter?”

Silence. 

“It’s what she said that goes.”

It may seem like a small matter, but had I overruled my Tenderoni, it would have a ripple effect. Pudd’ng will see a chink in our parenting armour, and use it to have her way. 

Many of us never went to parenting school. We are learning lessons on the road. And sometimes we learn them the hard way. 

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