Childhood is as beautiful thing. Forgetting it is an open wound. Just think of how losing a childhood photograph makes you feel. Whether, your childhood was like damaged merchandise or like Kelvin McAlister’s in “Home Alone”, our past do make us really, who we are. Childhoods are not hatchets; you don’t bury them. So, the idea that childhood was better in time past with examples that only represent the low class is a ridiculous myth.
There is the popular belief among the youths and adults of this generation that the children the past generation had a better childhood. The “in my time” cliche has become tiring. I wonder what yardstick is used before arriving at such conclusion. We compare the new age kids who at seven are inundated with the latest episode of Originals with those who made houses with sands on feet on raining days and boiled red sands and stones for lunch.
We must understand that this is the computer age—the information age. People are thinking, and you can’t afford to be left behind. The illusion that those who danced in the rain, played 10-10, and sang sandalili, had more fun than the in-house PS4-playing kids is ludicrous to say the least. The untold truth is that privilege imbalance is not new age stuff. Even in the past, the children of the rich didn’t partake in such activities. Not all kids had street life and not all kids have it good now.
Street kids hobbled to school with break time in mind, so they could play “pako-balls” or at best “double leather” on a grass starved pitch that was littered with stones and smelt of dried urine like the one little Messi played on as a kid in Rosario. The rich kids had scheduled sport time, where they played football on pitches that you could mistake for one of the 16 training pitches at Etihad training complex used by Manchester City in Greater Manchester. While the street kid sang sandalili, did police and thieves with their innocent crushes among the chasers, the rich kids had library time and had their horizon broadened with books that opened their mind. They had music classes, foreign language classes, and sang polished songs. It has never been about time; it has always been about class. The widening gap between the rich and the poor in essentials and necessities did not start today.
Research has shown that children do not need money to have fun, they can create it on their own. Whether you belong to the different grades of elite class who got toys from Kids planet in Magodo or HOME N KIDS in Lekki or Kiddies solutions in Abuja or you are the very privileged travel savvy type who summer shopped in Primary, London or Baby Dior in Paris or the popularly visited “The Children’s Place” and “Berkeley Girl” in Manhattan, New York. Or if, on the flip side, you belong to the general class who shopped at the bend-down-select in Balogun market in Lagos or New Benin market in Benin-City, threw stones at mangoes, chased lizards, did rubber band games, took part in the Nigerian version of yo mama to pick the bluntest lip, one thing cannot be taken away, the innocence of childhood. Rich or Poor, there were happy memories.
A child is oblivious of her reality. She has a way of staying happy. Whether you made your home in Lekki or Ajegunle, was primarily schooled in Grange and Pacesetters or you attended a “grammar school” in the corner of your street, whether you sun bathed in Miami beach or was smitten by the heat of Kano on your daily treks to and from school, in the words of West Life, “we had our seasons in the sun”. We took it all innocently and savoured in the bliss of the moment ignorant of the kisses of luxury or the bites of autarky.
Time brings everything into perception. At adulthood, if you were an underprivileged child, you want to give your kids better life. You realise you grew in poverty, and childhood plays and laughter were the only silver linings in a cloudless sky. On the other side, if you were privileged, you come to understand and appreciate the class you were born into and try to live up to familial identity.
Let us embrace the time. Live in the moments with these kids. Yes, children can create their fun but they deserve better. They are blessings to us but huge responsibility. How would you rather have your kids grow? Take them to fun parks, shop at Procter and Gamble, register them at book clubs and music classes, give them Kelloggs for breakfast rather than cold eba on a Monday morning. How ridiculous would it be that your kids still sing” leke leke give me white fingers”?
Childhood is as beautiful thing. Forgetting it is an open wound. Just think of how losing a childhood photograph makes you feel. Whether, your childhood was like damaged merchandise or like Kelvin McAlister’s in “Home Alone”, our past do make us really, who we are. Childhoods are not hatchets; you don’t bury them. So, the idea that childhood was better in time past with examples that only represent the low class is a ridiculous myth. Since when did poverty eclipse luxury in the pride of men? Let’s embrace our past but not be prideful and loud of poor beginning. Not every scene deserves a sound track.