Released On 9th Aug 2021
Uchenna's blog: Diary of a burgeoning activist
When I first heard my daughter, Commander-in-Chief Senior, utter "maybe later?" in response to my emphatic “no” as she reached for the doughnut, I knew that statement was not from the spirit of my ancestors.
As a Millennial raised under old school Nigerian parenting methodology where a parent's yes is yes and no is no and never shall the two meet, "maybe later" knocked me for six.
I’m like: where did that come from?
“Maybe later?” enters the space of grey. “Maybe later?” reinforces the fact that “children of nowadays are really a different kettle of fish”. “Maybe later?” suggests that you think we’re mates. “Maybe later?”, which ends on a high falsetto note, implies that you think we can revisit this situation when really I just don’t want you to eat that doughnut because dinner.is.coming.
Everything is a negotiation. Even Monday-to-Friday “put your uniform on” so we can leave this house in the next 10 minutes is up for debate – despite the fact that a crisp white shirt, black trousers, a red jumper, and sparkly trainers are laid out.
"Mummy, I want to put on my crocs."
"No darling, it's raining outside, so you have to wear your trainers."
She responds: "Maybe later?"
And now we're going through the “I want a pet” phase. That's definitely an external influence: I am not an animal lover. And my daughter's lobbying determination cracks me up because she can't even stand a fly. The moment she sees one buzzing around, she runs out screaming from the room.
“Mummy, I want a rat for a pet”. (A rat? I know! Is this the influence of the film Ratatouille? I dunno.)
“No, they’re disgusting.”
“Okay, can I have a hamster for a pet?”
And when she hears “no” to that too, she’s not deflated. Commander-in-Chief Senior pursues with the alternatives of a cat or dog. I have told her and her brother that when they’re older with their own homes, they can get whatever animal they like and play Dr Dolittle.
If there’s anything that’s clear for me as a parent, it’s how much my children shake up my assumptions and world views as I oscillate between the cultural imprints of my British and Nigerian identities. It’s an intellectual triathlon of how to blend the best of both worlds.
Commander-in-Chief Senior's persistence and determination that "no" can become a "yes" is highly admirable in today’s chaos. How else do we bring about change? I already see her laying the seeds for a career in activism – starting with testing Mummy’s rules first.
Uchenna works in strategic communications and engagement. Her/She has led initiatives on employee engagement and diversity and recruitment for different companies. Uchenna marvels at the new zest of life and clarity her Commanders-in-Chief have given her.