A while back, I wrote about the neighbour kid. She scored 357 in KCPE and voluntarily decided to rewind. I should mention that some months back, she asked me to teach her about computers. Once I opened Word and started to explain how it works, she quickly said she just wanted Facebook. I saw no harm in it and opened accounts for her and her little sister. They used fake names, fake ages, and profile photos of Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. I was a bit uneasy about that, but as long as they Facebooked in my house, on my terms, and on my friends’ list, I could keep an eye on them. Plus, they’re not my kids.
Of course, my own Princess wanted an account too. I allowed it, but insisted she use her own name and picture [despite violent tantrums], and I have the thing locked down so tight that she can’t do much without me knowing. On the upside, she trusts me with her password, asks me before she friends anyone, and lets me check messages on her behalf. She Facebooks more than me, and her uncles often send me messages through her, so there are lots of loving people watching her. The day I try to log in and fail, it will be time for a serious talk.
Back to the neighbour kid. Two days ago, she came over and asked if she could Facebook and I refused. I suspect Facebook is causing a lot of these problems – that and the cell phone she keeps borrowing, so I’ve sanctioned both. It’s interesting, because she seems like the wall flower type. She always speaks softly and gently, and her humility is somewhat annoying. I’ve always wondered what her angle is, because no one can be that nice.
Of course there have been times when she didn’t know I was home [I hide in my room a lot], and at times like that, her voice rises many decibels. Still, she has the nice-girl mask well wedged in, and I wouldn’t have believed her guilty of anything worse than forgetting to shut the door.
Well anyway, I just had a very interesting conversation with her mother. Turns out these still waters are far from harmless. First, she didn’t score 357. She scored 282. She’s been walking around lying about her marks to get what she wants, which in my case, was to save face and secure future sessions on Facebook. Her mother is livid, and is currently hunting down a school for her to rewind in. The girl’s former headmaster has advised against her going back there, because the humiliation would be counterproductive.
The kids usually Facebook for an hour on Sunday while I watch Biggest Loser. The rest of the time, I’m glued to the computer, so they have no shot. Once, she claimed she wanted to do a homework assignment on Google, but I caught her Facebooking instead. It was a weeknight, and I was vaguely irritated. But I’ve seen this child every day for the last year – she’s even slept in my house – and I never thought her guilty of anything worse than being a major suck up. She would often do my dishes and offer to babysit. I found it disturbing, but when I saw her do the same thing at my dad’s place, I just assumed it was her nature. Some people are just born ingratiating.
I think what really surprised me is her cold-hearted brazenness. For someone like that to look into my eye and lie so blatantly is very unsettling. She didn’t just make a mistake, and I didn’t ask about her results. She just walked into my house, announced her marks, and declared her decision to repeat. I even tried to talk her out of it! Half an hour later, she asked if she could Facebook, but I had a bad feeling and said no. An hour later, her mother showed up with her version of things.
Lying for me is a deal-breaker. To me, it’s even worse than unfaithfulness. It hurts my pride that I couldn’t tell the kid was being dishonest, and makes me wonder how I’ll cope Princess starts to lie. It seems the exile to shags didn’t help either, because according to her mum, neighbour kid got in trouble there as well. It’s always the quiet ones.
I feel for her mother. She’s raising three kids on her own after their father passed away, they live in a one-roomed house, and this one girl was on scholarship from three different sources. You can see the anger in her mother’s face as she speaks.
If it had been me, I’d have asked myself what I did wrong. After all, as a single parent, everything your kid does is directly on you. It’s a question that haunts me every time Princess loses her temper, breaks a glass, or slams a door. But the neighbour isn’t like that. She’s old school. She knows she’s done her best, and that a daughter’s choices aren’t always a mother’s fault. I admire her confidence.
I did notice that the mother adopts the same ingratiating tone her daughter does. I guess sometimes our kids watch us and learn stuff we may not want them to. I’ve never seen the neighbour livid before today. She always has this vaguely annoying smile on her face, and the temper surprised me. Still, given the way she struggles, I’d expect her kids to know better. Maybe that’s why they’re called kids. They live in the moment, skipping blindly into the lion’s den – or whatever. They have no concept of the future or consequences. I guess we were all like that once, and some of us still are.
I once heard iCon [at least I think it was iCon] say we’re raising a generation of kids who can’t function. My aunt says it’s because babies are raising babies, so we have no clue what to do with them. I get that all the time, since I look more like my kid’s adoptive sister than her mother. I’ve had agemates criticize the way I choose to raise her, and I do have doubts. Lots of doubts. But she’s happy, she’s healthy, she does well in school, and while she’s prone to fibs, manipulation, and momentary living, she’s basically a good kid.
Then again, I thought the neighbour kid was good too.
There’s no parenting manual, though there are lots of books and courses. I know all the theory from Dr Phil, Oprah, and my grandma, but I don’t always agree with it, and sometimes, theory is really hard to apply.
The neighbour’s decision is to make her kid repeat, and we hope the fear of her wrath is enough to set her kid straight. Still, the kid came to my house and lied right after, so I don’t know if anything got through.
I was hoping by the time I finished writing, I’d have some catharsis, a solution, some wise words, something! I’ve got nothing. Luckily for me, I have five years before my girl becomes a teen, and I may have gained more wisdom, some chains, and certification for home school by then.
Meanwhile, for fuck’s sake, wear a condom. Raising babies is a lot more beefy than reduced penile sensation and legendary labour pains.