Watch what you expose to children


Taibah International School Primary (TISP) held its annual valedictory concert a couple of weeks ago.

The concert is usually held under a particular theme at the end of the school year to bid primary leavers, both P7s and Year 6s, farewell.

For the last three years, parents have been given a ‘Taibah Tip’, with which to go away. In 2012 the tip was ‘allow children to be children’.

Children must play, read kids’ books and even dress up like children rather than like adults. Last year’s theme was ‘what is the definition of a good child?’

Again this was pertinent since many parents can be confused about the goodness of a child. Personally, I know for sure that there are some who believe that a child who is not academically ‘clever’ cannot be a good child!

The 2014 valedictory take-away tip for parents was ‘watch what you expose to your children’. Today’s child is the equivalent of a great listening or observation post!

Children are closely aware of goings-on within their environment today and, sadly, there are many happenings that are beyond the control of parents.

Take the example of parents who ferry primary school children every morning. In Uganda we do not have a media threshold rule that would guide radio broadcasters about what to present and when. Consequently, sometimes content on popular FM radio stations is heavy.

I recall one morning last year when I suddenly noticed that my own children had ceased their usual lively bickering in the car for once. Reason? The radio presenter at the time was going through ways of improving the kissing technique! I quickly turned on to another station, only to find them graphically describing ways of using a condom! Playing pop music does not help either because many of the lyrics have sexual innuendo unsuitable for children.

But what about when parents directly contribute to or provide the poor exposure? At the valedictory, the head teacher narrated about a time when a girl had dashed into the office to protect her against the mother who had promised to kill her because of some action the school had taken. It could not have meant literally to ‘kill the head’, but it was enough to scare the child into protecting her head teacher.

The other example was about a parent who had boxed and kicked a gateman who had denied them entry right there in front of his children. What a way to teach young ones about problem-solving! Imagine how such children may conduct themselves on the school playground at lunch or other break times.

Of course there are more examples. Some parents drive the wrong way, ride up the pedestrian kerbs, harass other drivers, and/or even swear in the presence of their kids in the heat of the Kampala city traffic challenge.

A joke going round claims that a man, after several glasses of wine on an evening out with his children, denied he had been drinking when stopped by police but was confronted by his own children who reminded him that he must not tell lies!

On the other hand, good fortune chanced upon students at the Taibah International School secondary section from a most surprising source. The ever-observant youths had spotted a huge snake atop one of the playground trees.

They could not contain themselves any longer when it was spotted the next day and consequently threw stones, bricks and sticks at it. In return, the snake puffed up and raised its head in that threatening manner snakes employ to scare off humans.

But this was lunchtime and such posturing was not going to scare off an entire school that had by now encircled the tree. Even the S6 students who had just embarked on their final Uneb examinations were pleased by this distraction that eased their stress. This free drama paralysed the entire school and many were happy to miss lunch.

Luckily for this trapped reptile that had climbed to the highest tip of the tree following a dousing of the area with paraffin, one of the science teachers called in a team of snake-catchers from the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. Led by Mr Alex Droma, the team set about tackling the cobra!

In the end, one of the tree branches had to be cut down and the snake was caught dramatically using long, metallic rods with prongs. Droma then taught us about what to do when confronted or bitten by a snake, types of snakes in Uganda and their venom plus a lot more. This particular cobra was taken to UWA and will be released later in one of the national parks.

It was a lunchtime well spent!

The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.

#taibah #children

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