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Martin Chinagorom: My Mother Has a Foul Mouth

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Yesterday I was appalled by an episode I watched on Judge Judy. The plaintiff, a woman had her teenage son as witness. In what was otherwise a regular case of neighbours/friends fracas, Judge Judy was about to rule in the plaintiff’s favour. The Judge wasn’t a fan of the woman’s behavior though, and on her fingers she was counting off what the plaintiff did wrong, saying, “your behavior wasn’t neighbourly, you have a foul mouth and a bad temper.” At this point Judge Judy was distracted by the plaintiff’s son’s giggling and being irritated asked what the boy was giggling about.

What the boy said is still reeling in my mind.

He said, “Because, like, you’ve just counted off everything that she is.” And this giggling teenage boy was referring to his mother: wasn’t neighbourly, has a foul mouth and a bad temper. The resulting boom of laughter was unlike I have ever heard on any episode of Judge Judy. The not-too-surprised mother’s reaction was an unsure “Wow,” and I doubt it would ever get passed that.

For someone who has watched Judge Judy for almost as long as I can remember watching TV, and having seen its crop of the absurdity, the mess that family in America is, I cannot exactly say why I was utterly shocked by this young man and how he reflected the shame of domesticity in the West before ten million viewers who watch this show daily. Try as I may to not make comparisons of this reflection of family and its reflection where I am from, I just could not.

While many would look at the young man’s action and see how it is funny, direct, say-it-like-it-is, forward, what I see is shame, shame, and more shame. But then what would I expect from a society where a father takes his son to court to resolve issues that are supposed to be family matter? You know, those sort of issues we aren’t even meant to hear about in public. A society where mothers cannot wait for their daughters to turn eighteen so they could move out. A society so advanced that parents, in old age, are dumped in homes where strangers are paid to take care of them. A society so advanced that dogs and cats are higher in dignity than humans? It is only in such a society where the idea of family has been so bastardised that children can look at their mothers and call them ‘bitch’ or ‘ugly’ and show no remorse when they yell “I hate you” to them.

I couldn’t but remember when, growing up, we would play games where we said vile curses to one another, things that were meant to be as funny as they were derisively hurtful. I remember that in those games, mothers were off-limit. Even the most unaffected person draws a fist when their mother is mentioned in the most innocent of yab. “My mother makes the best soup,” used to be a saying on the mouth of every kid in those days even when one knew that Mama Emeka’s soup had more crayfish and tasted better by a far margin. Next to God was the mother. I will not go into an exegesis on how mothers are the backbone of a family as that is not the experience of some, but that doesn’t mean it is not the experience of most. Nor will a little blog do to laud the divine acts of she whom God has blessed me with as mother.

Only it was just sad to watch this young man; sad to see that the family institution is going to hell and the world is being dragged along with it; sad to see that today mothers are bringing up their children in ways that make their children call them names in public and they have no words in their defense and accept it like it were a report card.

The world is coming to a really bad place and it is not because of coward groups like ISIS or Boko Haram. When it does, it would be because in today’s family a child will see it fit and funny to call his mother ‘foul mouth’ in a place where ten million people are watching.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Glenda Powers

Emeka Chinagorom is an analyst in Washington DC. Born in Onitsha, he studied philosophy in Rome before moving to the United States. When he is not obsessing over food, he is trying to read and write. His short story, NOW THAT YOU ARE BLACK IN AMERICA, won the 2017 Ian McMillan award. Emeka is working on his first novel and some short stories. You can find him on Instagram @emmyemc.

36 Comments

  1. Scared Homosapien

    February 11, 2015 at 9:55 am

    As you make your bed, so you shall lie in it. Parents should behave as they would want their kids to behave.
    That woman didn’t train her child well, so his behaviour shouldn’t be shocking.

    • Rethots

      February 11, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Beyond that woman (even) training her son well, she herself has no comportment if she truly is a reflection of all those traits she was accused of. How can someone with those attribute, train a child in any decent way?

  2. Frostycake

    February 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

    So sad…. “Who sat and watched his infant head,when sleeping on his cradle bed,…

  3. kemi

    February 11, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Rotfl!!!!!! “A society so advanced that dogs and cats are higher in dignity than humans? ” thiz just made my morning mennnnn u hve no idea!!how this amazes me so much here. Nd its so funny these animals gt more better treatment than the owners themselves sighhh loooolz

  4. bb

    February 11, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Seriously, I do not blame the child, he is just being truthful like a child should be. It is the mother that should be ashamed of herself for not creating the right impression with her child. It should be a lesson to other mothers, our children are seeing the way we live.

  5. TANTRA

    February 11, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Some parents are a disgrace to their children. However, it is not wise for a child to wash their dirty linens outside. It may do more harm than good. A child should consciously make efforts to lovingly and respectfully correct his/her erring parents.

    • Rethots

      February 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      The premise here is “a child” not a “young adult”. Pray tell, what does a child know to understand about not washing “…their dirty linens outside.” He is a child and we should let children be children rather than foster on them the responsibilities of adults.

    • missypiper

      February 12, 2015 at 10:13 am

      And who is going to teach the child to do so?

  6. J

    February 11, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Remember the video of a young boy of 9 slapping his mum who was high on drugs infront of strangers??? I hope my Nigerian parents will stop aping the Western culture as regards child uprbinging. Be firm with your kids, correct them lovingly, be the type of parents they would want to be in future, set good examples for them.Love them too.

    • MC

      February 11, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      You make it sound as though he was slapping her for fun. He slapped her to wake her up from the high/trance she was in! Something a boy that age shouldn’t have to do…or even know how to do!

    • Pat

      February 12, 2015 at 5:56 am

      Oh my goodness! U also remember the video!? that video bothered me and I tend to remember it. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched it. Its very sad, pitiful and unbelievable.

  7. Promo Nigeria Blog

    February 11, 2015 at 11:45 am

    The child has done nothing wrong. His mother has done everything wrong. If she was a good woman, her child would not embarrass her in public. Serves her right.

  8. deb

    February 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

    The rot in our society has been as a result of bad parenting especially from mothers. If your mother is wrong in any way, call her out&let her know. My husband did not like what his mum did at a time&i told him to let her know, he says he can’t now that same attitude has caused a rift between himself&his siblings. I tell my parents whenever they are wrong esp my mum, so it’s always putting her on toes when I’m around to do what is right. If you are not acting well as a parent&none of your children are correcting you, that mean you are breeding same negativity.

    • cindy

      February 13, 2015 at 5:12 am

      i stopped reading your comment at “especially mothers”. I don’t know about you but my dad a lot to do with my growing up.

  9. Muna

    February 11, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I never really appreciated my Mum until now that I have kids of my own, 2 girls. now she laughs at me and says ‘so now you are shouting, but you always used to accuse me of shouting and flogging’. my husband called me this morning, praying and blessing me, that now he understands when I complain of not getting enough sleep bcos of the kids – either they want water, want to wee, or are hot and I have to fan them when the 2 rechargeable fans run out (of course no nepa most of the time). yeah I left them for a few days for work, and he prayed for me this morning that God bless your labour on the kids…and I in turn appreciated my mum’s labour for us and the training she gave us. I had an argument with my sis-in-law over the weekend ‘cos I cant still wrap my head around celebration of valentine’s day in nursery/primary schools, I just don’t get it, and all they tell me (including the proprietress of my daughters’ school) is ‘that everyone is doing it nah!’ I just don’t understand why the compulsory party, red and white clothes, gifts for exchange….even in Nursery. I asked her ‘are we not starting something we cant finish?’ doesn’t it fit into the big picture of societal values we’re talking abt? abi I’m so old school at 35? cos my little girls are staying at home and valentine-ing with me this weekend o! btw, Val is on Saturday, so why the party in school on Friday?! is it by force?

    • MC

      February 11, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      WHAT!? Valentine celebrations in school?….in Nursery???
      I dont think I’ve ever heard such.
      Even when val day fell during the week, I don’t recall ever hearing of celebrations happening in school.
      What is it with Nigeria/(some) Nigerians with their “everybody is doing it so I must do the same….or…”everybody is doing it so it cant be wrong” or “even if it is wrong, its okay because everybody is doing it”
      Nigerians love to watch face and worry about others….kmt just do you!

    • nawah me o nawah

      February 13, 2015 at 9:07 am

      I neva knew of d word “VALENTINE” until I entad secondary skul nd it was even an all grls secondary skul oo nd dy took it personal wen I entad a mixed skul afterwards,soryy for digression o

    • Mama tees

      February 23, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Even in my daughter’s crèche she was told to wear white with a touch of red

  10. Beegirl

    February 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Everybody not the same, every country do things differently, just because you don’t like the way someone else goes ahead with their business doesn’t mean you have to laugh or judge them. There is always a reason people do things, if someone decide to get a pet and treat that pet like a human being it’s their money, not yours, not yours stop judging. And yes some parents deserve to be taken to court, because they act way too wrong. And every parent want their kids to be very dependent on themself, at 18 you are an adult, do some parents take it too far, but letting a kid who has no job out, yes, they don’t want their kid to be dependent on them when they are 35 or even 40 and even still be leaving with them. Is so much easy for Africans to have a one minded thinking, just because you were risen a certain way doesn’t mean everyone will be risen that way. Start thinking from other people’s prespective, and not just yours.

    • Chinagorom Martin

      February 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      I am very glad, very fortunate that I never have to think from that stunted perspective. Even more so because I was not “risen” that way. I am sure you are very proud of how you were “risen”, so am I.

    • beht why

      February 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Bloop *two snaps*

    • Pat

      February 12, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      LOL at Chinagorom’s quote :). U dey craze o

    • tunmi

      February 11, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Thank you jor. The kid was in court, and the mother made a fool of herself so wetin consign the pikin. See this is what I do not like about our culture. In the name of shame and appearances, many of us hide the truth. I have no qualms calling my father out on his nonsense when he does it. Dude should be going to therapy for a mild form of depression and instead he’s taking it out on the family.

      And the nursing homes matter, what makes you think Nigerians don’t abandon their own parents. No, theirs is even worse. They drop their kids off with their parents for months and even years for the grandparents to raise (without consent or respect for their own lives) or they bring them abroad for permanent nanny not asking what the woman/man wants to do with the rest of his/her life. Also some people NEED that care because in some shape or another, their family cannot afford to take care of them (time, resources, or money). And it creates jobs.

      Taking family to court is an excellent idea especially when that family cannot act like family. I loaned you money and you don’t want to pay me back, why should family do that? And in some cases, you have greedy family members and the court defends the other party. Me, I love Judge Judy and I love that Americans use their court system. Also BN, where are the divorce cases?

    • MC

      February 11, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      exactly that! Nigerians think their way is the right or only way!

    • Isalright

      February 12, 2015 at 6:10 am

      This “risen” thing is very risky.

  11. love

    February 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    i love my mum and i dont shame her in public (Infact i defend her even though i dont support what she does…. i have no choice but to defend her shes my mother) but in my heart i know i dont want to be like her. well 50% of the time. she doesnt take corrections, shes rude, unfriendly, doesnt stress herself for anyone but wants people to do for her…. well shes a basic bitch honestly. she’s especially this way when she doesnt like someone. however she does have her good side. shes prayerful, wants the best for her family can be encouraging once in a blue moon. We all pray God touches her heart one day. but in the meantime well i smile and act like my mum is the best in the world when i know she isnt.

  12. zee

    February 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    This reminds me of how I used to say you’re crazy to my friends when we joke and mess about. .then one day,my three year old had a friend over , I gave her little friend a cupcake, somehow it fell on the rug, with the pink icing/frosting messing up the rug so my daughter rushed to me, asked me for a wipe or cloth to clean up the mess..I knelt down to clean up, next thing, my daughter kneels too and asks me,”is she crazy?”. I told to not to say so..i felt very sad because she heard it from me.

  13. Queenbee

    February 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Hahahaha @”risen” all im saying is Chinagorom’s comment got me cracking

  14. MC

    February 11, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Respect and fear are two different things!!!!!! Do not get it twisted.
    Commonly confused with each other. You instil fear (but call it respect) into your child and expect him/her to be a dummy and not talk….yeahhhh great way of raising a child.

    Sorry, but this is crazy. Sounds like a man went to America and decided that Africa (or maybe just Nigeria) was better. Maybe you need to realise that people and places are DIFFERENT!
    I for one can not come to terms with most of the things Nigerians call “culture and traditions”, but I don’t think my ways are better and that Nigerians are crazy.

    Do Nigerian parents not frustrate their daughters to get married and move out??? but you want to bring up Americans wanting their children to responsible of their own lives….Hmmmm

    If your mother has a foul mouth, then your mother has a foul mouth….its not being rude, it’s called stating facts, being honest..

    • molarah

      February 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      Honesty is good, but wisdom is more profitable.

      We are not children, so we can’t act like diarrhea-mouths and just say whatever we think about our parents to them. And especially not in public. They may be crazy types but that didn’t stop them from nurturing you as a baby, providing food, shelter and clothing for you. For doing that, they deserve your respect. Because they didn’t have to do that.

    • MC

      February 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      They didn’t have to do that????
      Yes they did! Its the consequences of having sex!
      What’s with the ideology that children owe their parents!?

      I’m not saying one should disrespect their parents (whether it be in public or not ). I was addressing the case stated above! The CHILD laughed because he knew what the judge said was the truth.

  15. ms.b

    February 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Oyinbo kids r rude abeg! My frnds dota wud tell her mum “shut up” in public. Haba! I’m surprised sum nigerians see absolutely nothing wrong with this, and wud say “if the mum is talking too. Much she has d right to tell her mum to shut up”. We support evrytin “american”. No matter how stupid it is, we get soo influenced by thier way of life and see ours as “instilling fear” in kids. No wonder we have soo many rude kids at home ds days, cos most parents r now bringing up thier kids in d “american way”.

    • nawah me o nawah

      February 13, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Oya,d mum z talking too much,biko wen she was in labor,didnt she suffer “too much”…yes mothers are annoying,ma mum annoys me bt dere sum tinz dt dsnt seem right,let a child tel me “shut up”,d beating such child would receive ehn,d father will nt recognize him/her for 2 great days!!!!!tchew

  16. D

    February 12, 2015 at 7:00 am

    When I read the title, I thought something else but reading the article. I have to say I do not agree with the author on this. Our culture fosters an idea that our parents are ALWAYS right and as a “well trained” kid telling your parent(s) the truth is considered only disrespectful. Now I don’t know of many people who have commented on here but in my own experience whether in public or in private the average so called good culture of ours does not permit for a child to correct a parent and there is nothing like “respectfully correcting” a parent in our culture. Do we know how many times this woman’s child(ren) have pointed out this bad behavior to her and she has not listened??? How she is probably more likely to blame others for her actions instead of taking responsibility for them??? Does that sound familiar??? In my personal experience my parents only started taking our thoughts into consideration after we had all left the house and become independent. As for the parent that cannot wait for the child to turn 18 so they can leave the house that is actually one of the so called culture I appreciate in the West. Personally, when I see a 30 year old still living with his/her parent in Nigeria and in the West, I am just surprised. My siblings and I could not wait to leave the house and we all started working and paying our rent right when we got into college. You learn to be independent and start making smart financial decisions real early. I remember my Nigeria self being happy when I had my first $1000 in savings (while I was in college) a close class mate told me he had over 20X that because his parents made sure he was taught to start saving early, that is, all his birthday monetary gifts since he was born was saved and he started working at age $16 so once he was in college. Mummy and daddy were no longer responsible for him (tuition and all) and I realized it was the same for most of my western friends. They give their children the necessary life skills and push them out of the nest on time and that forces them to spread their wings and fly. For me at that age having $1000 was a big deal and a major milestone but I quickly realized that in comparison to my western counterparts I still had a long way to go. Now, I am not saying this is a one size fits all but all I am saying before we all sit bashing certain things about a culture we need to make sure we have viewed things from various perspectives. For me I will encourage and push my kids if necessary to become independent as soon as possible. I learned a lot from being on my own at 18, my little sister was 16, yes there were days we called the other person to lament how we missed being in the comfort of our parents house and having no worries. There were days my sister would call me crying and I would have to comfort her but now we know it made us much more stronger and better. I would still have preferred being in the same state as my sister but it made us grow and become financial smart and responsible faster.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      I’ve met a lot of western adults in their late 20s or early 30s who have good jobs and still live at home. Many of them tell me that their parents still cook for them, help them with cleaning and laundry and but meeting these people debunked the belief I formerly had about “oyibos” kicking kids out to be independent after said kids turn 18.

      A colleague told me she went from being in her father’s house to living with her then partner (now husband and he’s the only man she ever moved in with) and has never lived alone. Bear in mind that she met her bobo when she was 36. My boss moved back into his parents house, with his wife and infant son in his mid-20s he realized that paying rent wasn’t going to help him get enough savings to finally afford to buy their own place. They lived with his parents for about two years, who were even very supportive with child-care during that time and today they’ve got a lovely home to show for it. Another oyibo guy I know of has lived at home since Uni. He started his first white collar job 8 years ago and still lives with his parents. It doesn’t stop there either as many other stories I’ve heard also debunked the myth that oyibos don’t contribute a dime to their children’s lives after they leave home (they do and I have witnessed parents of oyibo friends paying for weddings and cars, contributing to holidays and mortgage deposits, etc.).

      So I’ve come to find there’s no real yardstick for any culture as any parent will often try and do what is in his or her power to do for their children, depending on individual situations. And we see a lot of kicking out of young adults in Nigeria too, where young girls are pressured to get married so that they can become someone else’s responsibility and young men are encouraged to move out so they can become “men”.

  17. nawah me o nawah

    February 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

    We jst see d negative side o,u knw….ma mum z terribly annoying…in fact,her mouth makes me wanna take an overdose of paracetamol at tyms nd jst end it bt den,sum tinz apn ehn,nd I wil even be d one to show ma disappointment in her reaction,she wil jes act so calm nd I wil be like”choi,mummy nd u let it to slip on like dt”..hawever,strt training ur children well, let’s all be good parents

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