My Dad is very strict, yaani, ni mkali!! (If you doubt me, ask my family and close friends. And he makes no effort to hide it). He’s Christ-lover who governs his life by prayer and the Word of God. I mean, if it’s not collaborated by scripture, there will be no debate about it. My mother on the other hand is not mkali. She is calm but firm. Looking back, I don’t remember a time mother raised her voice at us, she was not a member of the “shouters club”, no. But we all knew never to defy her; my dad would finish you. She is also a Christ-lover and His Word is and has always been her true north. I can confidently say that my parents shaped and influenced my walk as a Christ – lover. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
My dad and mom met in a national school. That was when a national school was headed by a “Mr Pen” from Ireland. My parents led their respective classes all the way to the “O” and “A” Levels (I’ve seen the report-cards). My dad was also a serious athlete who made a light job of cross country races. He went on to become a telecommunications engineer and my mother became a teacher. So, I have very strong brains behind me.
My dad. Very strict. And just as he was known back in his high school and college days (I have met his friends), it is also known today: my Dad does not suffer fools!! NO!! His tolerance for foolishness and nonsense is zero. He also does not believe in being led- he leads!!! He once told us that he not raising sympathy seekers and sissies (for real..). He still does not understand nor use the words ‘give up’ and ‘too hard’ in relation to anything he is doing. As long as someone else is/has done it, he will do it, and do it better than any one else.
He expected us to be the top students in class and no, he did not commend us when we did. My mother would celebrate us, naturally. But my dad, he would scrutinize the marks and ask questions like ” Kiswahili you scored 90. Where did you take 10 marks?” Closing day for us were usually interesting, in an equally interesting way. Basically, by the time we turned in for the night, our time tables for the holiday would have been drawn up. Play came after books.
One incident that comes to mind was when I was in Std 7. I, daughter of my father, had failed Mathematics. I can’t remember what I had scored. All I remember was that I was in big trouble. My friend, there was fire!
My top-of-his-class-telecommunications engineer- Dad could not make peace with my marks!! He demanded an explanation for my dismal performance. And what did I do? I opened my mouth, this one of mine, and told him it was hard. WEH!!! Niliona siku ndefu (You know, some phrases can only be said in Kiswahili. Because, really, the direct translation of that up there is “I saw a long day” and that does not make sense! But for the benefit of non-swahili readers, that simply means “I saw stars”. Together, yes?)
My Dad wasted no time!! He did not sit me down for a motivational talk. No. He took swift action in line with Proverbs 23:13 !! You see, in my part of the world, my Dad’s generation of parents did not send us to a naughty corner, or reason with us as I now find myself doing with my boys. NOOOO!!! Corner for who??? Reason with who for what??? Those corners were already occupied by our mothers’ money plants! This business of “naughty corner” parents talk nowadays is recent. And for the record, my corners are occupied by pots so there are no corners in my house either!
Back to my story…. my Dad reminded me that the following were never to be repeated in our home: It’s too hard; I don’t understand; I don’t like the teacher (kwanza that one! ; I don’t like the subject. As far as he was concerned, as long as someone else aced it, I was expected to ace it as well!! I quickly realized that my attitude needed to change quickly, immediately, NOW!! Niliona nyota!! Let’s just say that by the time my Dad was done giving me his version of a motivational talk, my attitude had been re-calibrated, my head was correct, and I was in love with Mathematics!! Yaani my Dad’s RRI (Rapid Response Initiatives) were RAPID.
That experience taught me one thing: attitude makes all the difference. You see, attitude not only determines and defines your learning curve but it also determines how fast you rise. When added to your drive and hunger to succeed, attitude will propel you faster toward your goal. I also believe attitude either attracts or repels people. It is what will cause a teacher to spend more time with a student who, though struggling, is determined to improve.
So I dove back into my books under his supervision. Let me tell you, it worked. My attitude changed by fire by force, and my performance soared. Unfortunately, when I got to high school, mathematics and I parted ways due to irreconcilable differences but by then my dad had made his point. Nothing is hard; you just need to change your attitude.
So for the next few days, wear the right attitude. You’ll see the results.