So I realize that Valentine’s is well behind us, and I should have written about this earlier, but better late than never! Because this year’s Valentine’s day was actually quite special.
It’s so interesting how this particular day comes with so much pressure though. In as much as it’s about love and all things romantic, there’s usually that underlying “thing” that just keeps you a little on edge just before the big day.
Well, to be quite honest, that “thing” doesn’t disturb me so much these days, but for some reason or other, my husband, Monski, still feels some kind of pressure! I’m like…. Seriously? It’s been about 18 or so years… you can be easy now.
But that said, during this year’s Valentine’s day, we decided to do things a little differently. This time round, Tumiso was quite central in our Valentine’s day ideas and plans.
Let me start that conversation from here: Monski and I discuss parenting techniques a lot. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we’re not quite on the same page. But one of the things we’re both in agreement on, is that it is completely important to have a safe space in which the kids can discuss whatever is on their minds, without fear of judgment and/or accusation.
As part of our numerous parenting discussions, I often share my own experience as a daughter, and how my father-daughter relationship with my dad ultimately impacted my life.
Here’s the thing guys; a father or father-figure is the primary male that a girl interacts with. Whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not, this young girl’s primary male will in one way or another pass on to her key life lessons (positive or negative), that will ultimately influence her outlook on life, her opinion of self, and her interactions with men in her future.
When I was growing up, Mr. Kagwi completely demystified boys (lolest!!!). Like for real… He never gave my young mind space to rebel and go crazy about boys, at all at all at all.
How did he do that? Not by being harsh. Quite the opposite actually. Our father-daughter relationship was quite unique.
He made himself so approachable, that talking about boys, and relationships with him was so easy! He never ever once judged me for liking a boy, and even engaged me in positive conversation regarding any young man in question.
I remember bringing home a boy I liked when I was about 13. My dad was so super cool about it! On top of that, my mum cooked deep fried potatoes and nyama for lunch that day! (this was some kind of delicacy in the Kagwi household :-D)
My parents were so relaxed about boys, that that rebellious seed that teenagers and adolescents sometimes have (especially when they don’t have their way), didn’t have much room to sprout.
Over and above that my dad showed up for each and every event that I had (music fest, swimming gala, debate, etc.) and spent a lot of time with me in exciting little ways… we’d take walks around the estate, or drive to Ngong and back.
He left no doubt in my mind, that I had his attention. I was important to MY primary male. He was available, approachable, non judgemental. And because of this, the need for attention from secondary males (read crushes, male friends etc.) was almost negligible.
It’s not that I wasn’t interested in boys; I just didn’t feel the need for re-assurance from them. Lol… One time, I remember, a really cute boy trying to get fresh with me one day on a school bus trip… I was so disturbed by the situation! I mean, I was happy that he wanted to seat next to me, but palizzzz!!! In fact, once he started trying to do those things, all of a sudden his cuteness disappeared! Hahaha!
I honestly have lots of positive things to say about my dad who’s long passed on. Somehow I feel that stories such as these, that I share with my husband, play some role in how he parents our girls. (I want to imagine I’m that powerful). But quite honestly, though he wasn’t perfect, dad came pretty damn close.
But what does all this have to do with Valentines, Wahu? you may wonder — ok… this is me bringing that story home.
Monski and I noticed that as Valentine’s day approached, Tumiso spoke more and more about it. It seemed to be a big deal, especially with seniors in their school. And truth be told, I do have a pre-adolescent on my hands. So these discussions of love and crushes and the Valentine seasons are bound to begin to become a bit more pronounced…
Because of the “safe space” approach, as well as her apparent interest regarding St. Valentine, we thought we’d break the traditions, go against the norm, and do things differently this time around.
This year, dad would not take mum out on February the 14th. He’d take his 10 year old daughter instead.
A father-daughter Valentine’s date! She couldn’t believe her luck, especially because Valentine’s day fell on a school night! She got to dress up, put on some lip gloss, perfume, and go out on her very first official date. It was really exciting for her. For all of us. Monski really jitolead and took her to a nice fancy restaurant.
So in a space place full of girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and their wives, a father and his 10 year daughter sat, enjoyed a three course meal, and talked about anything and everything under the moon; from the mid term exams, to her dreams, her fears, and all that good stuff.
Over and above that, I believe a seed was planted in her mind… Of how a gentleman should treat a lady on a date.
They came home at about 11 p.m. (on a school night) and she was so alive with stories of the evening that was. I liked that. Really, I did. Something she’ll always remember, and subconsciously use as some kind of positive benchmark.
I pray for guidance as we continue to parent her, more so now as we approach the teenage years. But I have no doubt in my mind that with prayers AND intentional parenting, she will turn out to be an amazing young lady.
Any moms out there approaching the teen years? What changes are you noticing with your kids, and how are you handling them? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s share in the spirit of positively moulding our children. — Mama T.
Wahu Kagwi is a Kenyan musician, mother and entreprenuer. She is wife to Kenyan musician David Mathenge aka “Nameless”. Wahu shares her pregnancy and parenting experiences at her Babylove Network blogspot and loves to receive feedback to improve her own parenting.