RECENTLY I learnt that father’s day was first celebrated in honour of absent fathers. Since my own father died when I was little, I was glad to know that the day was originally meant to honor departed dads specifically, and not the kind we have proliferating this country, the ones who have gone AWOL, sometimes even when they are living under the same roof with their children.
Personally, I have always thought of Father’s day and Mother’s day as a creation of those who make a living by selling cards, so they could sell more of those. The concept, I believe was then lurched on by shops, simply to boost sales, and I suspect it works, judging by a large number of people who have adopted a celebration of these two days as part of their culture.
Over the years, I have hardly ever bothered with either of the days as I let them pass as non events, until my kids were born of course. They started coming home from school and church with Father’s day and Mother’s day presents. This year I received two boxes full of love on Mother’s day only to get a hearty laugh later on when my younger son insisted on opening at least one box to see the love.
At first I refused and told him that their Sunday school teacher who assisted them in making the boxes had asked for them not to be opened in order to keep the love inside. A week later the 3-year-old boy simply wore me down with his requests, so I reluctantly allowed him to open it. I watched bemused as he tore open the fancy wrapper only to exclaim in disappointment, “There’s no love in here Mama. It’s just an empty box of matches.”
In between fits of giggles I asked him what was the love supposed to look like and without hesitation, he declared ” A heart. Mrs Clark should have put a picture of my heart in there,”which I thought was just so sweet.
I was further tickled last Sunday when the five- year -old phoned his dad to wish him happy father’s day and the conversation went something like this:”Hello, Happy father’s day, and how old are you? causing his little brother to excitedly ask whether they would be getting a big cake in celebration of father’s day.
At that particular moment, I felt relived that at least my children have someone that they can enjoy a Father’s Day conversation with. And my heart went out to those children who had to deal with taking home father’s day presents from school and have no father to hand them over to and no concrete answers from their mothers about what happened to their fathers. And they are many. That is why I take off my hat to those real Dads who, although they might not win the best dad trophy in father’s day competition, are at least there to provide a father figure to their offsprings.
ALL MOTHERS STAND UP AND BE COUNTED
With over 270 000 of the 1.8 million living with HIV/AIDS I find it regrettable that family values as a political aspect is a concept totally foreign to Botswana. Despite the common puffery by many of our leaders, espousing the values of respect for fellow human beings, it is amazing that for this country, the mark of a true politician, it seems, is the ability to engage in slimy sexual behaviors and an apparent total lack of moral compass.
Right now there is a raging debate about why the Minister of Finance, Kenneth Matambo should step down to await trial for a graft charge in respect of his high office. How come we have never heard a single voice clamouring for assistant Minister of Labour and Home Affairs to vacate office while he awaits to be cleared of charges of adultery he allegedly committed with his own maid.
Instead, the whole Matlhabaphiri sex scandal is trivialized to the point where we hear of other ministers discussing the salacious details, which were spilled in a court hearing, to the point where they even asked the named and shamed MP in jest why he never told them that he was circumcised, as if being cut is news that one should spread about oneself.
This, did I mention is happening in a country where workers are on strike for low salaries because of a budget deficit, which I am convinced could have been averted had billions of pulas not been used to buy ARVS, if only more people had kept their pants on, stuck to a single sex partner or at least used a condom.
What is truly baffling about the whole scenario though, is how sane, loving and caring mothers can continue to depend on men who seem totally incapable of handling their own families to make decisions about our money, our children, our health and our country in general. Next time I cast a vote, I assure you, the mother in me will come to the fore and I will refuse to consider only how well educated sincere sounding he seems, but I will definitely ask what guarantee do I have that if he has shown poor judgement concerning his own family and children,he would show better judgement in matters of the state?
Q.I caught my 11-year-old son and his friends watching hardcore pornography on the family computer. What should I say to him?
A. Children take risks; it is part of their normal development. However, in today’s risk-averse culture they do not have the space to take developmentally “normal” risks — no tree climbing, no roaming. Instead, we tend to keep them “in captivity”, allowing them unrestricted access to multimedia. The digital world is an exciting place full of endless opportunities for children, but we adults, to our shame, do not talk to them about how to enjoy it safely. If you have not discussed the online world and responsible behaviour with your child, and leave him or her with unfettered online access, this is akin to letting them roam the top shelves of the newsagent. Hardcore porn is more accessible to this generation than ever before. Manage it, discuss it and restrict it if your child is naively exploring it.