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Aunty Bella: Miss. Did I Ruin His Dreams?



Aunty Bella is our agony aunt column on BellaNaija. We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers. We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice as well

Well Aunty Bella,
This might not seem too serious but it is to me. I have been having a lot of guilt on me since I changed my cousin’s mind about his plans for education. See, my cousin is really young like about 8 yrs old but he is so good at math like he can solve math problems way ahead of his age [what people twice his age are doing] and wanted to take math major when he enters university. Well, me going through that major now wanted to tell him the reality that majority of upper level classes are not calculations but writing proofs and just a whole lot of writing that if he wanted a calculation degree Engineering has more calculations – things that I wish others had told me. Well upon hearing that, my cousin proceeded to cry and I felt so horrible like I had just dashed his dreams. Right now, I’m feeling like a horrible because I’m just wondering what I can do to make sure he keeps his interest in math like he always had, and not take my words too much to heart because it might be that’s what he was meant to do in school and I just ruined his destiny/dream.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Scott Griessel


  1. Doromegadiva

    November 13, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    hahahahaha, for some reason I found this very hillarious. I can just imagine the poor boy bursting into tears and running away lol. Relax jare its not that serious, I dont think you have ruined his destiny (dramatic much) I dont think Children take such things to hear like that. I mean whne I was growing up I wanted to be all sorts of things including a house help! I can tell you are a good person though for caring so much 🙂

    • B

      November 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Househelp! That’s hilarious!

  2. Open Sesame

    November 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Really? He burst out crying and you write to BN? 8 years old….like seriously?

    Na wa o! Surely you must know that you haven’t ruined his dreams and can tell him to do whatever course he fancies when he gets to that stage. You didn’t need BN for this but since you asked there’s your answer hon 🙂

    • slice

      November 13, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Don’t underestimate an 8 yr old. They remember thgs and repeat ur. words verbatim. But they also bounce bcak fast so I say just go back to him n explain what u really meant. I can be sure the child was responding more to the look on her face, a look that probably sd u will waste ur life if u do this and the intensity made him cry

  3. *Real* Nice Anon

    November 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    What did I just read? Is this real? or are we getting punked? say what now?!

  4. Tina

    November 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I can’t believe this is posted. Bella, are so deprived of news that you result to childish tantrums. Please don’t insult your readers intelligence.

    • Tosin

      November 14, 2014 at 7:11 am

      kai, Tina, I couldn’t disagree more o.
      We love children, engineering, mathematics, support, and futures. We love this question.

  5. Angie

    November 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    You can still get him to keep his interest in Mathematics by having a heart to heart talk with him when he is in a happy mood because in that way you can explain yourself better. Also, throwing in a few jokes won’t be a bad idea because the kid is just eight years, and it is very easy to cajole him to change his mind.

  6. Mimi

    November 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    He still has a couple of year to go before he makes his decisions. My advise is tell him you support his dreams no matter what. Give him more maths problems also help him find ways of creating and solving new maths problems from everyday events.

  7. tunmi

    November 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    How about finance and actuarial science (my major)? Are there educational programs for children where you are? In the US, colleges and universities have summer programs geared to introduce students to these hidden gems of majors early on. NSBE is one of them, the Johns Hopkins Youth Scholars Program is another—things like these. Since he is 8, let him explore math. He may eventually go with engineering or statistics or business or accounting or statistics. Honestly, a math major does open doors (given others inform you of the means). Apologize for limiting the scope of his aspirations, and let him know he could do so many things: pure or applied math.

    • miss pynk

      November 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Haba which kind of agony story is this. Pure math is for crazies who want to proof and prove. I studied applied math and statistics hella lot of calculations and practicality. I have worked mostly in finance and accounting – ratings agency, accounting firms, budget and proposals aka cost controls and now i am in early childhood education. Even actuarial science is too narrow, study applied math and take the CAs Or SOA.

  8. dale cole

    November 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    next time , think before you open you mouth,

  9. Gorgeous

    November 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    You told him the truth, but a truth he is too young to deal with. You should have left him alone to develop his mind and be able to make his decisions. 8, is too young for such a serious decision. Besides the decision on what he wants to do with his life rests on his shoulders. Because you are having regrets does not mean he cannot be successful. Some mathematicians end up being investment bankers, professors and having life long careers others who have to cram like zombie to work will not have. Once you have a skill or gift, it can feed you for life. So please dont limit him. You should go to him and comfort him. Let him know it is ok to be anything you want to be. And even while dealing with proofs, he would need a background understanding and an understanding on applying mathematical concepts. So he will do just fine and is off to a great start.

  10. BeAnEngineer

    November 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Awww you’re such a sweetheart. You gave your cousin good advice. Engineering is math intensive and ultimately rewarding. You did good. The next time you have the conversation, you can show him examples of things Engineers do. For example engineers design bridges and they use complex math equations to determine the maximum capacity (you don’t have to tell him software can run those calculations lol)
    Also the foundation of how a car operates is math. Crusie control for example is the constant averaging of speed.

    Everywhere you look, engineers have a had in making complex problems simple for everyday living.

  11. Smile

    November 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    After feeling irritated by the Kim K articles on this site..This just brightened my day mehn……you are a star. My dear he is 8 right? ….just tell him you were joking and wanted to see how he would react that maths is a wonderful degree #caseclosed. He might even change his mind sef as he grows. ..LooooooooL

    • Tosin

      November 14, 2014 at 7:08 am

      simply brilliant!
      except if the kid is over-curious sha and won’t drop the thought.

  12. shannaro

    November 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I…Huh… ok yeah when the time comes to actually start thinking about this and he has more experience behind him you can share your experience with him .In the meantime why are you even here take your cousin out or sth explain yourself and tell him not too worry about it and to still go for want he presently likes.

  13. Wifey

    November 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    how about telling him he still has a lot of years to make “his” decision.

  14. blah blah

    November 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I had to read this post twice. Go back to the heading to read it and then read the post again. There’s nothing wrong with her ‘agony’ but BN is filled with man wahala and marriage wahala and bickering wahala that when we read about a girl ‘ruining’ her 8 year old cousin’s destiny, it comes as a shock. I shock o.
    Biko, your cousin is only 8. He still has about 10 years to decide to be lots of things. I wanted to be a nurse, accountant, singer, pilot, pediatrician before I stuck with lawyer. Even now I am thinking I education consultant. His mind can and will change. Buy him ice cream and get difficult math problems you can solve together. Don’t worry. You and your cousin will be alright.

  15. NNENNE

    November 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    You are wrong and the eight year old is right.
    Is mathematics not part of ” STEM?”
    STEM is the future. As long as he stays on top of his game, he will be very fine. Do your research dear.

  16. Carliforniabawlar

    November 14, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Buy him some ice cream and chocolate….he’ll forget that conversation ever happened…hahaha! Talk to him about the math/engineering thing in 6years when he’s about 14/15 or applying to uni. He’ll understand much better then.
    P.s. I was surprised BN posted this as well, but if you think about it on a deeper level, this child is 8…. This is right about the age i was having the ‘what i want to be when i grow up’ discussions, and i can remember some of those quite vividly. Needless to say, molding young minds is something worth discussing….at least, way better than bantering on & on about lost causes who call themselves celebrities.

  17. Tosin

    November 14, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Both aspects are fun.
    They are also quite different from each other.
    If it makes you feel better, I’ve met at least one person who was very engineering-oriented who found himself in a nominally engineering program that was actually just math (because at some level, later, math is just such a very important tool that you sometimes abandon the “thing” to pursue the theory/abstraction, and the abstraction of the abstraction) and he wished in that first year or two (of grad school) that somebody could have warned him. He is now both, though probably mostly math.
    I met someone else who changed schools because of that. The person wanted to build stuff, found there was no building nada going on, and ran off to where they could. The person went on to have fun building stuff, failing to build stuff, starting a company to try to build stuff, working in consulting to help build businesses that successfully build stuff, while still looking for exciting ways to build and market stuff.
    Also, I have been in your shoes before, warning people about the dangers of say PhD programs, or Masters in economics, and second-guessing myself later, like, hope I didn’t keep them from something they’d have totally loved. The thing is to present all sides as best you know how, e.g. for a PhD it’s DON’T DO IT, then I add, UNLESS YOU REALLY REALLY WANT TO, LOOOL. The economics one was because some folks think it’s storyland like those cheesy demand and supply curves and pretty textbooks, but in grad school all of as sudden it’s Maths, like the juicy sexy type. The person went ahead and did it anyway 🙂
    So you’re just being honest, and you also see the other side. That is sooooo coooool.

    Specifics now:
    I write a math blog. This is exactly (ok, approximately) its purpose. Check it out. Have your darling 8-year old cousin check out the parts she/he can understand, e.g. the video of one of my favourites, Perelman. Although if you think Perelman would turn him/her off, then choose something else. If the kid is really that curious, just let them peruse the blog as they like 🙂 till they get tired loool. Kids love KhanAcademy too, though it’s annoying how they removed the game, the game was the coolest part. Keep being the AWESOME COUSIN!!!

    If in Lagos, maybe even (try via facebook inbox) hang out before the year ends?

    • purplegirl

      November 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Wish I met someone like you in the medical field before entering Pharmacy School. Well done.

  18. purplegirl

    November 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    @ distressed aunty: Dont cry over spilled milk, but instead be open to understanding why he likes math in the first place and join him in exploring all the options available to him. Yes he’s 8, but he’s not to young to start discovering what he likes, has a flair for and what he sees himself doing for enjoyment and money in 20 years.
    Have fun aunty, and who knows maybe you’ll learn something new about your major.

  19. Ashaby

    November 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    When I was 10, I overheard my dad’s telling his friend that Lawyers die young. Im well over 30years and I still believe lawyers dont live long. Ironically, people ask me why I didn’t study law after having a conversation or two with me. Go figure!

  20. babygiwa

    November 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Call your nephew and talk things out with him, you think he is too young but according to symbolic interactionists he is well over the game stage and he already has a well developed mind of his own. So, sit him down and present his options to him. Don’t make his decisions for him. Btw, I think you are a cool aunt joooor. And @Tosin, thanks for your unusual tips I do hope our distressed aunt finds a way out this. Big ups to BN for posting this, women and men shall not live by sex, marriage n ‘I housed him n he dumped me’ matters alone. Peace

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