WINNING PARENTING BATTLE (TRUE STORY)
By O. OLUKANNI
“I’m sick and tired of how you control my life, I have a brain. I have a right to anything I want to do, leave me alone and stop controlling my life! Xxxxx’s mom doesn’t treat her children like you do, they do anything they want, whenever. She’s a better mom than you”.
Those were words I received from my first child and son precisely 8years and 9months ago. He was barely 8years old
Whenever I’m confronted with discussions on challenges of raising kids in foreign cultures, those words above always reverberated through my mind. Now, I smile over it.
Please come down memory lane with me
We had recently relocated to Rio de Janeiro and the rudest shock we received on arrival was language barrier. Those were days I wished one could have a face to face dialogue with Mr Nimrod concerning Babel Towers.
While settling in, we met this European family, kids attended the same school and we lived three houses apart.
Naturally we became family friends. Well, at least, for the sake of our children. They had arrived earlier in Brazil about three months or so. The kids took turns for after school visits. On one such visit, I had reminded them that their visit mustn’t exceed two hours. They knew I mean what I say and that I say what I mean.
Almost 3hours later, I suddenly realized they were no where in sight so I called the mother of their friends to send them home. Well, the woman still requested they wait for some snacks she was baking but the realization of their lateness made them return running home n mumbling aloud ‘oh no, we really have to go. Mommy may not allow us come here to visit again, we need to hurry’.
I later realized their comments startled the lady n her children. They felt like, “what’s the fuss? Why the rush? Any big deal in staying out a little longer than planned?…”
Of course I chided them for flaunting my orders.
This family’s curiosity had unknowingly been aroused by that simple incidence. The woman and her son took it upon themselves to interrogate my son on a regular basis. They queried him if I abuse either him or his sister through harsh punishments or beatings. She went to the extent of inspecting his body for marks as she had learnt African parents can be mean.
Though I never agreed to sleepovers, I still permitted their regular visits. Little did I know my son’s heart was being poisoned towards his mom. I noticed he became a bit daring, questioning my instructions and often giving snappish answers but I sincerely attributed these to the change of environment. ‘Poor boy,’ I thought, ‘he’s finding it difficult to settle at school, not many English speakers around, missing his old friends. So, I made excuses for him. Until the day they returned late from another visit and before I could complete my sentence he bursted out expressing his desire to be free because he had a brain and that his friend’s mom was better than I was.
‘OreOlu, what did you just say?’. He simply shouted ‘you heard me, I’m just tired of you controlling my life’, If you pester my life, xxxxx’s mom will take me to the police and social welfare, I’m just tired, I’m tired.’ And he dashed off to his room crying.
I felt like the whole world was crashing right on me, my daughter stood in silence, having witnessed the whole scenario.
At that point I needed to talk to someone. Huby was away on official trip. Relating such incidence over the phone would devastate him considering he was far away. His imagination would run wild.
I thought about calling my parents however, the response from their end would unanimously would be, “send him home to Nigeria, immediately, we will train him”.
Sleep evaded my eyes that night, My heart was heavy! I felt like I had lost all. I had mentioned to his father over the phone that he was a bit naughty. I would wait till his return before divulging details. He was due back within 3days anyway.
As I couldn’t sleep, I decided to go check on him in his room. I found he was awake. Sitting by his bed, I asked why he wasn’t sleeping and if he needed anything. He just stared into space without a response.
Silence lingered between us for a while.
Then I asked: what he was thinking, what his fears were before zeroing in on what a police man would do on discovering you disobeyed your mother.
I then said ‘Do you know what the work of a social worker is? They separate families, that means you will never see me, your dad or your sister again. Is that what you want? That we be separated forever? What exactly have I done to merit that from you?
At that point he started crying and then opened up with many staggering conversations between him, xxxxx and xxxx’s mom.
They had told him to annoy me and possibly record my response on his phone. They went as far as suggesting he keep a knife under his pillow and that anytime I asked him to do anything he doesn’t like, he should threaten to kill himself.
At that point I knew I had to call my huby and relate all. There was fire on the roof top! Not only wisdom but I needed a very responsible faith to handle this.
Thankfully, I was able to inject some sense into him that night. I admonished from scriptures and sighted present examples from other families. It must have taken God for me to come down to his level in explaining the consequences. Obviously, he understood as he wept bitterly and apologized. Mother shed tears too.
By the time I retired to bed, we both knew there was no school in the morning.
We spent the following day together as I just drove them round the city, we walked on the beach and had lunch in a restaurant. I took it really easy, became extra vigilant, watched every word I said while continually listening ‘within’ for the best strategy. The best that came to my mind was to wait for their dad to return from his trip, back my bags and that of the kids and just ‘gerra ra here’.
Much later that afternoon, xxxxx’s mom came over asking why they weren’t in school and wondered if all was well. I reassured her we were fine but that I had a late night and couldn’t wake up early enough for school drop off.
In my heart, I felt like letting all hell loose and giving her a piece of my mind before walking her out but blessed be God for restraint. As she left, I muttered in a low tone to myself ‘Lord, even this must end to my benefit, no matter what, I must win’.
David was a man that knew his weapons very well. While others thought he needed the sword n armory to confront Goliath, David knew all it will take to bring down his adversary was that bow n arrow.
So after dropping them off in School the next day, It was pertinent to pray, a prayer that would not go into storage but that would receive answers immediately. As I settled down, it occurred to me it wasn’t the story telling kind of prayer but an asking prayer that I needed. So I resolved to just ask what to do in this situation. Not forgetting to mention that I asked with such agony in my heart. My heart was bleeding as a mother.
I hadn’t stayed for more than 1hour in His presence when the answer came. I was led to Exodus 3:12 and the very last phrase popped out boldly at me. “….On this same mountain, Ye shall worship me”.
Oh what joy, oh what peace! As I meditated on that, I felt the burden lifted. I came out a different person. My countenance was greatly lightened. Hasn’t He promised to contend with those that contend with me and that He would save my children in Isaiah 49:25?
No need to ‘gerra ra here’. I’m a believer not a doubter. And an overcomer always. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. I refuse to be uprooted, He’s planting me here for a reason.!
So I got my kids involved in extra activities after school such that ‘visitation’ became virtually impossible. We went from swimming to basketball to kumon lessons. Sometimes we just walk around the shopping malls. Weekends were busier as we toured near and far.
Precisely a month after, Madam Xxxxxxx walked over to my house really sad n in a low tone said to me; Temi, can you believe this? We have been transferred back to our home country. It’s even less than six months! We were just settling in. And to imagine I’m going back during winter!! Harsh winter. I was beginning to love it here…..” she went on and on while I kept repeating the same words ‘ oh, what a pity, what a pity’.
After she left, I leave you to imagine my thoughts and feelings. So glad I didn’t raise my voice to fight that woman.Hear me beloved: silence is a great weapon – selah.
I sent a message to my huby to call when he was less busy and as I related to him he said to me “Iya o! He uprooted them for you.”. I laughed and replied ‘don’t mess with Temi, I’m here on a mission’.
So again I say: Lord you have done all things well!
– Know your God
– Very little is achieved from struggles
– Silence is a great weapon.
– Learn to ask questions in prayer
– When God takes His time to fight for a child of His, He fights BIG!!
Recently shared with my sister Tayo Ayeni and she encouraged me to do same with friends via this medium. She reminded me of this song:
You move mountains, you cause walls to fall, with your powers you perform miracles, there is nothing that’s impossible, we are standing here only because you made a way