When babies turn into ladies

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Aug 8, 2011 (Jackson Biko) – We spend a great deal of our adult lives chasing down other people’s daughters. We promise them the world when we haven’t understood the world ourselves.

We look at them, not as individuals, but as legs, ass and knockers. We lie to them. We take away their virginities, and sometimes their self confidence. We knock them up and then jump that story. We make them cry in their sleep and then turn them into cold, angry and untrusting individuals who get on blogs and spew vitriol.

But one day, in a cruel twist of fate, we get daughters of our own.

Having a daughter changes the paradigm. It puts the boot on the other foot. It means you have to be prepared to contend with miscreants, yobos, lay-abouts, eejits, deadbeat-skinny-jean wearing, Mohawk-hawking eggheads who will park their father’s gleaming cars outside your gate and, with a juvenile chutzpah, press your doorbell. It means some gung-ho kid from Kile will one day get it into his head that he is good enough for your daughter (God forbid!).

It’s tough having a daughter, especially when you know how crafty men can get to get what they want. But as my little girl grows the clock ticks to the ultimate showdown, that much I know.

On Thursday the little one turns three and a half years. You would think that’s young. It’s not, she is a woman of sorts now – they grow up fast. You will step into the bathroom for a shower and when you come out they have learnt a new word from cartoon network. When you are almost getting to know the baby, they have evolved into small girls…like, that!

But three is still a beautiful age. They are inquisitive. They are mighty impressionable. They soak in nuances. Their memories are elephantine. Their personalities are taking shape. At three, they wobble about in their mother’s high heels, apply make-up, demand to pick their own clothes and they can tell Ksh. 50 from Ksh 20. At three they start becoming ladies. And they are particular about what they want: don’t apply butter on both sides of my toast, put ketchup on the side of my plate not all over my fries, I want the green dress…I want my martini stirred, not shaken.

I’ve always dreaded that day in future, when she will turn into a teenager. When she will start wearing fitting jeans and wearing lipstick, and when she will start using words like “needing my space” or being an “adult” who needs to be “trusted as a grown up.” When she will start keeping stuff away from me…

But I’m always consoled that that day is far far away, like Vision 2030, a faraway concept, like something used by parents to scare children into eating their vegetables. But this reality was recently shaken slightly a few weeks ago.

So one evening the missus tells me grimly, “I have noticed something troubling about Tamms.”

“Let me guess, you found a packet of Embassy Lights in her school bag.” I said.

She ignored me. “She has been doing this dance which involves her lifting her shirt.”

“Yeah? I wouldn’t be worried about any dance, as long as it doesn’t involve a pole.”

“Well it involves another boy.” She said.

Slight pause.

“Another boy, what other boy?”

“She says some boy from school always dances like that with her.”

Anxiety. Was I a bit concerned? Perhaps, yes. You pay a certain amount of money to take your kid to a school that is big on discipline and integrity and you hope that your child grows up sound and proper, shielded by the truancy that lives beyond the gates…

“Who is this boy who dances with you?” I asked Tamms. “Ian.” She said innocently.

“Show me how he dances with you.”  She did. I was disgusted. Her mom said it was a bad dance and that she should not dance it again. She asked, why? She said, it was a dance of “bad people.” I gave her a wow-how-creative look. I wasn’t really interested in the dance; I was interested in this Ian boy.

“He’s called Ian, who?” I asked her. She told me; a lunje last name. The missus said she would go to school and have a word with the class teacher. I asked her to sneak a picture of this Ian kid because I was taking him down. The next day the missus went to school in the morning and talked to the class teacher who admitted that Ian was a bit of a problem child and she would put a stop to it. She didn’t show up with any picture.

I know this is childish but I really wanted to see this Ian kid. I wanted to put a face to this boy, the only male name she has uttered in my house since she was born.

One day as I dropped her off, I decided to walk to their class and see this kid. I pretended to ask the teacher about her progress with counting the months of the year and then casually asked, “Oh, she talks about this Ian boy, where is he.” She pointed at this little devil playing across the room. He had oversized shorts, like he was about to jump off a plane and the shorts would act like a chute. He was chocolate. He had short hair. He was a bit chubby. Innocent looking kid, but I knew better.

I wanted to walk up to him and tap him on the shoulder. “Ian, what are you doing after school, can we catch a drink?” Since he is a belly dancing brat, he would look at me and hiss, “And who might you be?”

“Tamms’ father”…

(You can read the full version here).

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