They say the child is the father of the man.
Whoever, whatever we are, we owe to those whom we were as children. So how then do we grow? We grow through life and through small deaths. We also grow through experiences.
There is nary a child in this world who has not been asked this question one way or the other. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of these kids do not have a choice in this. It’s like taking your first step without feet.
The question is not as simple as it sounds. It formed one of the earliest composition topics we learnt to write as toddlers in primary school. No question can cause such an excited flow of words. No question can harm as much. For since, and quite early in life, to our simple impressionable minds, we have learnt to describe ourselves first, by the certificates we carry. Are you not more?
They say the child is the father of the man.
Think about the generation of children we are building today. What will they be when they grow up? For the kids in Aleppo, Adamawa and Borno, whose homes and lives have been shattered by violence and death, what will their lot in future be?
Kids are awoken by rushed violent slaps. Not with the intention to injure, but with the kind of fearful desperation that drives a mother to take flight to safety.
The sight of an airplane should be beauty in any sky and a testimony of the ability of the human mind to imagine and create things. The Wright brothers never intended that the sound of one would drive a child to mad depths of fear.
We may curse ISIS or Boko Haram all we want, but we must remember that these vicious adults were also once children. They were blue or brown eyed babies with curly hair and gentle smiles. Maybe they were burped or not. Maybe they were loved or not. Maybe they grew in stable homes or not. But they grew into adults who learnt to hate, to kill and to maim.
Some of these kids have already sworn vengeance on the people who killed their families. One of the boys who made these statement is from Adamawa State. He is only 10 years old. It is unlikely that he would find the exact people that killed his parents. He will probably settle for anyone from the tribe who killed them. He may take it out on the world who sat by while he lost everything. He may even join the military in order to achieve this. This is what he would be when he grows up
The child is the father of the child.
There are deep seated insecurities in us. If we do not face them early enough, they become the figurative shadows we run from. And whoever ran away from his shadow?
Every achievement you make becomes a debt you will always pay to the child you once were. For some, it may be the voice of a parent who yells you are never good enough; of how you would never amount to much.
For others it may have been prolonged sexual abuse as a child. It may not be the abuse itself, it may be the guilt that you enjoyed the act and you wonder how many shades of vile that makes you.
For most of us, everything we do in life as adults is to run away from our childhood. We sometimes surround ourselves with strappings of wealth to show ourselves that we are not that person anymore. We name drop, shop expensive and look the part. We are always egging ourselves to get that certificate, go for that course, or get that degree. Just always after that extra. But as Henry Ford said “Business must be run at a profit, else it will die. But when anyone tries to run a business solely for profit then the business must die, for it no longer has a reason for existence”. We are all in the business of living. But are mostly killing ourselves because we are running our business on the wrong fuel.
It takes a village to raise a child, as Toolz likes to say.
But it’s no longer that way. The world has become so singular and fearful that people are afraid to scold other people’s children because we don’t want trouble. We are afraid to intervene with the madam that beats her maid, despite her heart wrenching wails that keep you up at night. You are afraid to scold that friend’s child who comes to your house and acts entitled. Taking things without asking and breaking things while you smile and grit your teeth. If at all you are bold enough to venture an opinion, you hear that insidious phrase that seals his fate, “leave him alone, he is just a child”.
We talk about corrupt leaders. No one becomes a thief overnight. They usually start small. From picking meats in the pot. To not refunding “change” when sent on errands, before he learns to start adding extra zeros to cheques.
Open your eyes. We make simple everyday decisions that are so powerful in their overall effect because they make us who we are. Whether good or bad.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth- Khalil Gibran.
May they burn with the fiery flame of who they are. But then again. Maybe not.
Photo Credit: Mimagephotography | Dreamstime