Understanding Overvaluation

A short while back, I attended the prize giving ceremony for my sons school. It was a good function. Sonny however did not feature in the awards list.

Why I am writing is because in all honesty I felt a bit disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, he still is the smartest kid I know (not just because he is mine, hehe). And his grades in school are perfect. I felt terrible for feeling the way I did. Then I stumbled upon a subtopic in Dan Ariely’s book, The Upside of Irrationality, that cleared things up for me.

What Mr. Ariely describes in Understanding Overvaluation is that most parents think very highly of their children, so much so that they do not realize that other people do not see them in the same way as they do.

Think about it, those who have children. You can go on and on about them showing pictures to anyone who cares to stop, look and listen, but lose interest or struggle to listen immediately the other person starts to share about their kids.

The author further writes that, in reality, he suspects that very few people are either wholly unaware or aware of their children’s gifts and faults. This translates to that, not only do most parents think their children are the best thing on earth, but that they think other people think so, too.

This tendency by the way does not just manifest in how we view our children. Naturally we view anything we create like this, the IKEA Effect.

In my unsolicited opinion, I feel it is good to be aware of our overvaluation so we are able for instance to discipline our kids when they err instead of defending them. It also makes as not make unrealistic demands of them since we understand their capabilities. And in understanding their capabilities, we are also able to nudge them when they are slacking.

 

xo, mamadjasiri.

 

Questions Galore 2

It’s been a while, three weeks going on four to be precise, since my last post. As expected, a lot has happened over this time. Two weeks ago, in a span of five days, I lost a cousin, grandfather and a friend from our office block in that order. Shook me pretty good.

In the sermon, at my Uncle’s house, the pastor said something that is relevant with parenthood and that stuck with me, “our children are not ours, we are just custodians”. I have quoted Khalil Gibran, actually used the quote as the featured image, in one of my posts, Worry How you wonder are these words supposed to console a grieving parent? Life.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the Subject. Something has piqued Djasiri’s curiosity, necessitating a second installment of Questions Galore Clearly I have discovered the insert/edit link button, hehehe. Or maybe my son has positively influenced me to be curious and try out things.

So he had reading homework, the CRE book. The chapter we are reading covers good habits, how God’s children should behave. Whether I am in complete agreement with some of the content in this book is subject for another day.

Does Jesus look like God? He asks. So I tell him yes, I think Jesus looks like God since He is God’s son. And besides we are all created in Gods image I add. “So I look like God?” Yes, I say and urge him to continue reading, before he hits me with another difficult query.

Then the book lists smoking cigarettes and taking alcohol as bad habits that children should desist from. What are cigarettes he asks? What are cigarettes I ask myself, the things people smoke? I tell him its tobacco rolled in paper that people smoke. Why? He asks. I don’t know Djasiri, I guess it is a habit that people acquire and become addicted. Before I am asked what addiction is I say we proceed. But he wants to know what alcohol is. He is on a roll. So I say it is a beverage that makes you drunk. I am aware i really haven’t answered his question. It is hard to tell children the truth but in simple terms, I find out.

Where is hell? Is it like a trillion kilometers away? “I don’t know where hell is, I have not been to the actual hell, I have not heard or read of anyone who has come back and given us the directions” I am tempted to say. But I say, all I know is how the place is described. I am not sure if the bible actually says where hell is. Thankfully we are done for that day.

Next day during breakfast,do bees make honey? Yes honey, bees do make honey. I look to see whether he caught that, nope. Do bees cough? Are you shitting me? I am just a mom, not an expert on Apiology. Oh, even you the readers have a question? Apiology is the study of honey bees. The Jungle book movie comes to my rescue, I tell him to recall the scene where Mowgli is getting honeycombs for Baloo, the bear. We just saw the bees sting Mowgli not cough.

“Mommy, can a working man go to work with just a vest?” I try to imagine what goes on in his head but I come up short. The questions are so random. Anyway, I answer and say no, they have to put a shirt on. What if they feel hot, he asks. Then they do the adult thing and put on the AC, fun, open the windows, or just sweat it out I respond. And wear a deodorant too I add laughing. I check to see again if he gets me attempting humor, nope, I am alone on this one too.

I guess I am trying to say a couple of things today, honestly I am not exactly clear if and how they gel together. I just needed to write, share all this. Please bear with me.

One is the importance of living our lives fully, forget being comfortable, taking risks. My sister said to me about our departed cousin, she was much younger than us, but she did live her life. Striving to make each day count. Friedrich Nietzshe put it best when he said, we should consider each day lost on which we have not danced even once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. And then my favorite, Rumi, “Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” Nice, yes? come on,  lets all say it together, “I’ll be mad!” Hahaha.

Secondly the innocence and abandon with which children ask questions, go about everything. Can we learn something from that? Everyone is a mjuaji in this city. Getting consensus in your work place is an uphill task, everyone has a different opinion.

And lastly, learning to accept life as is. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us – Epictetus.

XO, mamadjasiri.

Life is not an Emergency

Life Isn’t an emergency. Point number 22 in Richard Carlson’s Don’t sweat the small stuff…Omnibus. I read the two pages this point covers twice, then a third time more slowly.

Parenting, being a mother specifically has managed to make me feel so inadequate. I take it so seriously, I forget I am only human, I have two hands, and only so much energy. Looking at a house cluttered with toys, snacks, shoes and feeling an urge that everything has to be in place, always. Each time telling my son not to pour this, return your books to the shelf, do that. Is having the house in order such an emergency? Whats the worst that could happen really? We manage to stress ourselves on things that should not even. I do not endorse clutter, but I am learning to let the kid play, he can put everything back in place when done. And if visitors find it too messy maybe they should come back years later when he is grown.

In my future posts, once in a while, I will be talking about some points in this book, and what I am learning so far from it, how I am translating the points specifically as regards motherhood, the category this blog revolves around.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Tied to life is not an emergency. Richard Carlson put it simply and perfectly, we spend so much energy sweating the small stuff we miss the beauty of what is going on around us, of raising our children. Now I know, this city of Nairobi manages to drive even the best of us crazy right from the traffic in the morning. For some, right from their gates. By the time you get to work you are irritated, then work, maybe a difficult colleague or client, by the time you get home in the evening you are ready to explode, snowball effect. How about you let it go? Why are you competing with that lunatic on the road? Why not let them go? Do you have to be the one who is always right in the office? Letting your colleagues be right does not in anyway mean you are wrong! Think about it.

Sounds too easy, case of easier said than done? It is easy I believe, just a mind switch. Making a mental note that you are not going to get worked up, seeing the bigger picture which is getting home calm, not a seething monster breathing out fire. I have noticed that when I am irritated from work by the time I get home I snap even on the smallest things. We spend so much time away from our kids, I think we should spend the few hours before they get to sleep catching up on their day not shouting at them, projecting our anger and frustrations. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff.

If he is not concentrating on the homework, I don’t shout, instead I tell him the importance of focusing on the task at hand. We finish quickly and then get time to play a game or for him to tell me something he wants to.

Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences. How annoyed do you feel/ get when someone does this to you? It’s easy not to pay attention to the fact that you probably do this a lot to your children, maybe even spouses, friends, but that is not my focus. I notice when my son speaks he does not always get to the point immediately, the story takes twists and turns at times I do not even get the message. But I am learning to listen, then ask questions when I do not understand so he can explain himself clearly. Becoming more patient. Listening without getting an urge to interrupt requires it. I have noticed how relaxed we both are when conversing. He notices I am listening, paying attention, looking at him, nodding, asking questions. It is fantastic. You are actually teaching them the same too.

Lastly, for today, Allow yourself to be bored. The authors friend put it this way to him, “People are no longer human beings. We should be called human doings.” I am not sure why we get this urge that we need to keep the children occupied all the time! From the moment they wake up, till they get to bed, every minute is scheduled. Weekends see us moving our kids from one activity to another, they are signed up for so many clubs their little heads must be spinning. How about we schedule time to be bored too. Allowing them to fill this time makes them create their own games, activities to do. I have heard Djasiri sing songs he makes up as he goes during this time, it is hilarious. But most importantly it shows me that he can come up with ideas to occupy himself. He does not need me to tell him or plan for him what to do. It obviously translates to parents also slowing down, taking a minute to just relax. Take a nap Sunday afternoon when you feel the urge to engage in an activity instead of just being.

I in no way do justice to how good this book is. Grab a copy if you can, hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am doing and that it gives you a different, better perspective. There are a total of a hundred points, I am thrilled and hope to put them in practice in my day to day and also as a mother. I will try at least.

xo, mamadjasiri

 

 

Weekends

It’s Sunday evening and I am spent. Djasiri is serving me a krabby patty, only it’s the sofa cushion. The name of the game is make believe. I have to not only eat it, but also enjoy it, make conversation, you know, the way you do in a restaurant.

The krabby patty is served at krasty krab restaurant, in SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series and movie. It is a sea hamburger. Residents of bikini bottom are addicted to the krabby patty. Djasiri just loves this series, not the patty. Each time we have gotten him one, he never eats it! He will take boiled maize over it. So that’s what we do every Sunday after church, eat boiled maize.

We have watched the SpongeBob movie so so many times, I can recite the lines. He still laughs and jumps all over the place each time he sees it. It is amazing really, that he does not tire of it. In the spirit of getting into my role, I ask for extra mayo. What pray will I be brought for? Anything that is not planted on the floor, nailed to the walls, not too heavy is fair game. Immediately,  Djasiri dashes off to the kitchen, fetches a mug and fills it with water. “Extra mayo coming right up!” he says. Thankfully it is water. This I can easily work with, drink without trying too hard.

The house looks like a circus, a little tornado christened Djasiri swept through. All the cushions big and small, toys, balls, blankets, throws are on the floor. Minus three cushions, that I have been served and I am eating that is. It is a good thing it is pretend, otherwise we would have weight issues in this world from being served huge portions. Standard portion sizes are a myth here it seems. My krabby pattys’ are blocking my view of the TV where we were watching, but mostly I was enjoying, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. It is hilarious, quadruplets with such different personalities.

Is it just me or are there other adults who enjoy cartoon? At times I think I enjoy more than Djasiri. Cartoon humor is the best. You should see us, laughing so hard, playing back sometimes just so we see a scene again. We acquire new names after a movie we have seen. For instance after watching good dinosaur he was Arlo, I was Momma. In Mr. Peabody, he was Sherman or Shermansky as I liked to call him. I wanted to be Agamemnon but Djasiri insisted so I was Penny. It it tonnes of fun. Just vet the movies, some cartoons have language that will leave you scrambling for the remote. Both of us want to be a particular turtle after watching the teenage mutant ninja turtles movie. Hopefully we will come to a settlement soon. Hopefully in there too, will be a lesson that everything does not revolve around him, he does not get what he wants always. Learning to lose.

It is Sunday evening and I am aching. The tight hugs and being jumped on when you least expect it. Boys are rough little monkeys. He almost chokes me at times in those tight hugs. My neck truly is sore. He steps on me like he is walking on the floor, whether the foot lands on my leg, belly, doesn’t matter. I am not sure whether he understands the concept of pain, or maybe he just thinks it applies only to him. He had extra swimming classes on Saturday. I am now the student, on the floor. “you need to hold the rail and kick your legs” he says. “a rail is something that is round and on the wall of the pool mummy” I know what a goddamned rail is, but this is a cooking stick! He is tough this little man.

It is Sunday evening and I am  happy, feeling blessed. So many wet kisses. So many I love yous. I know more than half of it is bribes so he can get his way, but I will take it. We have done the homework and I am glad he is enjoying school, making new friends, learning new things. Creating his own circle outside of his family. Fighting his own battles. He is also helping to clear the table,pack his school bag and other manageable chores. What more can you ask for?

Stay blessed folks,

xo, mamadjasiri.

 

Worry

Happy New Year folks! It’s past mid month, I know, but surely it can’t be too late to pass my wishes? I hope and pray you all are keeping well. The holidays as usual flew by, I have been getting my bearings, clearly it has taken a bit longer, but like a good habit, here we are, my muse and I.

We started class one exactly a week ago last Tuesday. It was exciting for Djasiri. On our way to school he kept asking the driver if there was a shortcut. He did not want to be late. He talked a mile a minute. I already felt sorry for the new teacher we were about to meet, She would not know what hit her.

I am not too sure how I felt. Bittersweet I guess. I was happy he was progressing. I was also worried, he was moving further from home, new environment, new classmates, teacher. It was primary school. There were bigger kids here. They could be mean. Amazing how subconsciously I managed to make this about myself.

He Sat next to this pretty little girl when we got to his class. I was about to remind him that he has a girlfriend, then I figured it’s day one, she would be OK when they were catching up later and he mentioned who he chose to sit next to. I wonder what they talk about, five and a half year olds. He barely gave me a second when I was leaving after a brief chat with the class teacher. It stung. Who was I kidding thinking he would cry a bit, say he does not want me to leave? I am old, boring.

I called his teacher only twice that first day. Only being the operative word. The first time at around 10:30 to see if he had settled in and how he was dealing. The teacher assured me he was fine. Then at 4:30pm, he was not home yet and class ends at 3pm. These teachers have grace, I can bet I was not the only one who called. OK, I hope I was not the only one who called, two times.

One week later, he is doing well. I have learnt that children are resilient, strong. Stronger than their parents. We worry too much. Even our parents, they worry. I guess once you become a parent, a mommy you become a worrier. You go into labor and come out with the worry app installed. This app even auto updates, you do not get a prompt that there is an update available, that would give you the choice to comply or not. It does not matter that I am a grown up, a mother myself, my mom still worries about me and my sisters.

Djasiri has been bringing back reports of being pushed, someone being mean or not sharing. I was tempted to get involved, call and find out. But I did not. He needs to find his way and be able to speak up for himself. I hope there is no escalation that will warrant an intervention.

Often times, we make it about ourselves as parents when really it is about our children. And then we get involved when maybe all we need to do is watch, listen and just be there for our children. I pray I am able to not live my life through him, wanting him to do things that i want, that I am able to let him make his own choices. Guaranteed there are some choices that as a parent you need to say no to. May God help us all.

Stay frosty folks, till we meet here again. Soon. I thank God for my friend, my mentor even. Keeps me in check when I am struggling to write. Amazing ability to break things down into perspective. Friends if you have an opportunity to mentor someone, impact on them even in the smallest of ways, please do. As Paulo Coelho says in the manual of the warrior of light, if you arrive to find an empty paradise, what will have been the point of your struggle?

I look foward to hearing about your experiences.

xo, mamadjasiri