I’m proud of my Baby Cousin

I did something nasty last night. Before you crucify me, consider two things.

  1. Because of my nasty I came to a very important revelation that is likely to be an eye opener for all you who are raising baby girls and the ‘real men’ of tomorrow.                                                                                                                                    
  2. I’m gonna get crucified by the Family anyway, so might consider leaving most of that to them.

    So, here goes. Somehow my cousin’s stuff was mixed up with mine at some point in time. Last night I was trying to find some stuff that I seem to have misplaced. In the course of frantically panicking, I bumped, quite literally into a box of letters. I knew from the handwriting on the top most letter that the letters were not mine but belong to a cousin of mine.

    Here is where you get totally disgusted with me. I opened the first letter. Guess, yep…it was a love letter. I read it and smiled, and tried to remember what it was like for me to be 15 years old and going through the first rush of infatuation. Huh, hmmm… I opened another letter. Sweet… And opened yet another letter.

    An hour later, I looked up with tired eyes, a wide smile and this article was born. One of the letters I read was from a boy, who was dating my cousin someday. In his letter he was angry because my cousin, then fifteen years old, had chosen to say ‘No’ to sex. Apparently he had put in quite a bit of work into the seduction, a whole year, the boy said, only to be turned away after waiting so long. She had responded, and seemingly not posted the letter saying, “This is my body. I have the right to decide what to do with it. I decide that it will not have sex until I am emotionally ready for sex. Right now, I may want to have sex with you, but I am not ready. So I will wait.”

    I was totally thrown by that letter. I mean, I know Baby Cousin. I would probably not imagine in a hundred years that she could think through a very difficult emotional period of growth, discovery and choice, and actually make a decision like that. She did, and I am in renewed respect for her!

    Baby Cousin is 22 years old now. She has a business of her own and a career in the making. She doesn’t say much, but you can tell that she does have a wild streak. But while another cousin of ours who is the same age as Baby Cousin now has a three month old son, no job in sight and no stable relationship she can lean on except for her already overburdened folks, Baby Cousin has a chance to chart out her life the way she wants.

    So what made the difference. Let me read you another letter. Two actually.

     

    Baby Girl,

    I hope this letter finds you well. I am really happy to hear that you are adjusting very well to your new school. Boarding School can be tough, but right now it is the only option we have because I have to be so away from you in my job. Being a single mom is tough, but I thank God that I have you and your sisters. I know, I trust that you are responsible enough to make the best out of our situation right now.

    I sent some money to your school matron so that you can buy what you need. Use the money responsibly. Write down a budget, plan wisely. We will be okay. If you have any problem you know that your sisters and I are here for you. Just make a call and talk to us.  Talk to me. 

    I love you and I’m looking forward to being home with you soon.

    Your mum.

     

    Here is the other,


    Hey Kitten,

    So how is boarding school? Don’t worry, you will get used to the murram soon enough. You will remember it fondly as the stuff that made you strong 

    Tish and I are ok, just busy working. We will come to see you on visiting day. Mum called. She is ok. She might be coming home in December.

    Hope you are reading sana. Remember, we make our own fortunes. Life can be cruel and tough, but its up to us to make the best of what we have. 

    We’ve talked sana about this, So I won’t bore you with reminders. I’ll just say, there is nothing wrong with having boys who are friends. You have the responsibility to make your future the best it can be. And your body is a temple. Don’t just let anyone go into it. 

    Okay, okay, I am lecturing again. We love you and look forward to seeing you soon.

    Your sisters.

     

    Well two things I have just found out.

    1. 1. Family bonds matter a lot. Of course nothing goes with a formula. A loving couple can be separated by death, or economic situations can force families to be apart from each other. Things that were good might go bad, that’s how life works; by being unpredictable. But a conscious effort to keep strong family bonds, to communicate lovingly even when correcting or disciplining, to be there for each other in meaningful ways, can be the difference between emotional stability, all-round personality and even happiness in that kid in your life, your son, your daughter, your baby brother, baby sister….

    You grunt? Huh! We are Africans! We do not show affection. All  those kids out there who are thugs and vagabond come from well-off families who have spoilt them!

    Well, first of all, being African does not negate our need to be loved and to be part of a family unit. Affection and love can be shown in many ways not just being slobbery kissy on each other. Pay attention, listen, respond kindly, correct kindly, commend good behavior, do things, even gardening together. 

    Secondly, loving your child does not mean spoiling them. Kids need to learn from kind instruction and good example how to work hard, how to plan wisely, how to be responsible. Show me one thug who had that from their family. Just one…

    2. The second thing I have learnt is that I am responsible for me. My baby cousin could have messed up even with all that love. She could have chosen to be rebellious and careless, gotten herself knocked up at sixteen, and so on and so forth. She could have made any number of choices with regards to her life and career. That she made the choices she made, which in time give her more of a chance at being a stable human being in a sea of human chaos, that is a tribute to Baby Girl.

    Well, that said, and done, I am going to put this on the internet, and I have a strong feeling I’ll be dead by the end of the holidays, but I’ll be a dead and proud cousin.

    Ó2008 Juliet Maruru http://www.jmaruru.wordpress.com

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    3 thoughts on “I’m proud of my Baby Cousin

    1. “Dead and proud” – now that would be a good epitaph.
      “Dead, thus proud” also might have its own charm. 😉

      I understand why you were proud; not because of a clichéd Christian phraseology (body as sacred temple, yada yada – “let’s enter Kingdom and Queendom Hall together now, shall we?”), but because your younger cousin kept her stance, was her own bitch, against male pressure. She asserted her right and her _space_ (that includes negotiating access to what I like to call “potential spaces” in her body :-)), and she stood her ground. Yes, her answer could also have been a “yes”, with no less legitimacy. But by her own decision, not by being coaxed.

      Well done, girl.

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    2. To read your cousin’s letters without her permission is bad form. To go over and above that and divulge the contents of these letters for all and sundry to read and comment upon is just cruel.

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    3. Dear Watcher, I am certain you are right in part. It was wrong to read my baby cousin’s letters without her permission. I did own up to that. However, the reason I shared some of the contents of those letters has nothing to do with cruelty. I’ll have you know that because of her family’s love for her, demonstrated by those letters, my cousin is a well adjusted person, who I insist I am proud of. I shared those letters because it is clear that family bonds are more important to the well being of a person than say wealth or family power. I protected my cousin’s identity in very many little ways that I am certain that even in the family, people would not be certain who I am talking about.

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