Kids will always get into trouble. Every parent must accept this as a reality. What matters is how we help them LEARN from the mistakes they make, so they arrive adulthood as well rounded and competent individuals.
I for one got into all sorts of trouble between the ages of 10 and 16. Today, I coach my own kids (3 of them teenage boys) on a daily basis, and it’s NOT been funny dealing with their naughty sides.
I’ve however found my own past experiences from going through that phase quite useful in “parenting” them.
There’s however one very important insight I’ve since gained:
It’s that quite often, if you pay close enough attention, your child’s naughty actions may provide pointers to a natural gift, talent or ability that s/he may be able to exploit to achieve success in adult life via a formal income earning vocation.
In my case, my passion for wild life and agriculture as a child, reflects in the work I now do as an expert supporting livestock farmers, and providing agro-based solutions (like my Excel-VB Ration Formulator, Feed Formulation Handbook, Excel-VB Poultry Farm Manager, my Feed Formulation Home Study Video Series etc).
What follows below is a true story about one of my many naughty escapades as a school age child, which illustrates the point I’ve made above:
Secretly Keeping a Pet Turtle (Then Getting Caught & Flogged)!
One day I caught a small turtle during one of our trips to catch crabs. It was about the size of my palm. I excitedly took it home, and secretly kept and fed it (I think earthworms – but not sure now) for months.
One day my brother, Femi found out about it. I pleaded with him to say nothing to our parents. He agreed.
But later on, when we had one of our few BIG quarrels as kids, he went and told my Dad that I was keeping a tortoise downstairs in the backyard, near the well.
My father was enraged, and called me to ask if it was true. I said it was. That night I got the beating of my life.
We had a Guava tree at the back of the house at Olodi-Apapa, where we lived then. Once you were to be flogged, the tree would “supply” some long slim branches. Oh, how I resented that tree!
After my punishment that night, my father asked me to get the turtle out of the old sink I’d kept it in, and take it to the car.
Then he drove right to the middle of the bridge that crossed the Lagoon (I believe it’s called Carter bridge), and asked me to drop the turtle into the water.
My heart bled as I did that, but I had no choice. It was obvious he was greatly upset that I’d brought a turtle home. But I did not know why. He never told me why. To myself I said: “Afterall, it’s not a snake!”
You may wonder why I kept the Turtle a secret in the first place.
In truth, I have no idea. We kept lots of cats (mother – and kittens she put to litter, which we gave out) and a dog in the house for years.
Maybe I anticipated my parents would say no to another pet.
But I must say I never expected such an extreme reaction from my Dad. Many years later, I asked my mother about it, and she explained that the shell of the turtle had some traditional significance he was not comfortable with.
Anyway, that experience of losing the Turtle only made me more interested in aquatic life.
2 decades later, I’ve created my own brand of Natural Self-Cleaning Aquariums™ that I build for use as learning aids (e.g. to explain concepts like the Nitrogen Cycle, Balanced Ecosystem) in schools and other places.
And between 2000 and 2004, I spent many long hours visiting all sorts of water bodies and aquarium shops, as well as fish farms, collecting, breeding, and rearing – different kinds of beautiful, but hardy, ornamental fish species e.g. Platy, Gourami etc.
In the home I intend to setup for my family in Cotonou, we’re going to have a special aquatic garden (with lighted glass aquarium displays at night) next to the home based Brew Pub we’ll be running. It’s a concept I already tested extensively at our family house in Lagos between 2002 and 2005. So I know it works.
This article is based on excerpts from my first Best Practice Parenting Book published in 2014 for sale in print and ebook format via lulu.com/spotlight/sdaproducts – click to view the book.