Baby & Me

13 going on 30

My friend’s son turned 13 on Monday. It seems like just the other day, the boy was, well…a boy. Now he’s a teenager and well on his way to being a man. I say that with confidence because my nephew is just 8-years-old, but ever since he was circumcised, his grandfather insists that he is a man.

I don’t have a son so I’m not too sure when the lines between childhood and adulthood are crossed for boys. And thankfully, my daughter is still very much a girl. It will be a while before Adoti becomes a woman – thank the Lord. Womanhood has its fair share of challenges, starting with menstruation and seemingly, never ending.

I want her to enjoy her childhood for as long as she can. But the day will come when my sassy lil’ miss turns 13. Early indications are that she will likely rival Mariah Carey in the diva department. I sat back and wondered what our lives would be like.

She’ll probably have a Facebook account, or a Twitter…or some other social media account that she won’t want me to know about or have anything to do with. And If I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to be her friend on social media either. Thirteen is too early for a child to realise that her mother is not the model citizen she always thought she was. But the thought of strange men inboxing her and sending her direct messages would probably see me hacking into her account to burn them with my acid tongue.

And then we would have to deal with the whole Whatsapp conundrum. I spend a good amount of my waking moments on this chat service, but why lie, it may as well have been conceived in Satan’s laboratory. It is literally a gateway to hell. What with random folk circulating pornographic clips, terror threats, hate messages and dirty jokes, and strangers proposing marriage or asking to be your special friend…it’s a jungle in there, even for a grown woman. Adoti and I are going to have to have a serious discussion about this Whatsapp thing but I can tell you now, it might turn out to be one of those, “Not under my roof” conversations. Yup, it’s not going to be pretty.

In fact, it might be downright ugly when we factor boys into the situation. I’ve been advised to purchase a shotgun, a wheelbarrow and a spade, which I am seriously considering. I don’t know which boy will ever qualify to have any kind of relation with my Adoti, but I’m thinking likely a virgin, a saint or a product of immaculate conception…quite possibly all three.

Talking about it is giving me hives so let’s move on quickly to matters of wardrobe. I can only imagine what weird and crazy fashions will be in vogue a decade from now. Going by what we see on red carpets around the world, Adoti will probably want to go walkabout in her underwear. Strangely enough, I may not be too concerned about her sartorial choices, because personal style is one of the truest expressions of self and I wouldn’t want her to feel suffocated. Then again, I will probably slap a “Not under my roof” sticker on any outfits that are too liberal in the ‘boobs and butt’ department. A mother has to draw the line somewhere.

At 13, I will probably draw the line at tattoos and piercings. I got my ears pierced for the first time at age 15, so we’ll just go with that, as arbitrary as it will likely sound to the child. As for body art, that may have to wait for a few more years, probably until Adoti gets a job because Mama’s not going to pay for her baby’s skin to be marked indelibly with a diabolical looking skull and matching pair of bones. If she wants something more sedate and predicable like her name in Chinese symbols, we can have a discussion, but only when she reaches the age of majority.

Speaking of majority and minors, last week, we ran a story in The Standard about a group of children – ages 12 to 15 – who were arrested for being drunk and disorderly at a birthday party. Police found eight empty bottles of whiskey on the premises. Children today are on a whole other level.

To illustrate this further, another friend was telling me how a paediatrician extracted a scratch card from her 2-year-old’s nose, and joked about how children of this generation are ‘digital’. If you were born in the 70, 80s and 90s, you were more likely to have had a bean or a button stuck up your nostril.

But with this ‘digitalisation’ has come a plethora of modern-day challenges, not the least of which is addiction to both drugs and alcohol. I pray every day that Adoti will not be shackled with the burden of any kind of addiction. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, especially at the tender age of 13, there will be no discussion.