I was dismayed when my child said “silly”,in reference to someone.
I rushed to discipline the word out of her.
I later had to apologize, profusely so, for having meted out that punishment so quickly.

Referring to people as “silly” falls under the category of bad behavior in my household and in my culture. I solemnly understand that this is not a standard that applies in the world over. To people of other cultures, it is quite okay for them to tell each other (not in a joking way) things such as,

“Don’t be stupid!”
“Stop being silly…”
“What nonsense is this?”

In my side of the world, if my child called you silly, I would cringe, apologize to you and order that you are apologized to there and then. In the midst of all that somebody’s behind would be spanked like a thousand times. Okay, a hundred times, to be fair.

Moreover, as a Christian, I train my children to speak helpful, encouraging words. This is a more important consideration than the cultural one, but you are all not Christians so I often try not to force Christian standards down your throats, although I strongly recommend them. So now I preach on…it is my responsibility to teach my child to be kind in speech and in character, and to spiritually influence my child. The world on the other hand has its ways and they are easier and tempting for my child to follow (self-centeredness, unkindness, carelessness, corruption, drunkenness, etc.). I try to beat the world at influencing my children, and when the world is winning I am quick to spot it. Of course a time will come when I will not be able to influence how my children talk, act or dress, but that time has not come, yet. So I give it my best shot now and trust that by then, my children will have formed their independent relationships with God and their relationships with God will guide their actions when I no longer can.

Meanwhile, I teach about Christian standards and also spank tiny behinds of people who have bad behavior.

So I gave a spanking. Two days later, I apologized. Since then I have been being reminded and apologizing daily, even this morning! Never mind that I have also been teaching that when people apologize they are forgiven and the issue is forgotten.

Before you judge me for introducing the word, no, I do not call my children “silly” and do not call my house staff any names and best of all, I do not call errant drivers who push me out of the road “silly” and I also refrain from using worse words when they drive totally insanely and bring me to a screeching halt. I just get frustrated but hang in there, perhaps Christ is coming soon with a reward for me…I hope so but I’ll be cool if He does not ‘cause either way He will have come. I digress! I also do not allow my house staff to talk uncourteously to my children, or to other people (on phone) in front of my children. They do not have to be Christians (again, I wish), but at least they have to see that I am trying my best here and they cannot un-do what I am trying to do. So, all music and TV programs which have words that I do not want to hear repeated by my children have no place in my household. It’s a lot of work to keep these standards, but again remember I am a firm believer of Christ’s rewards as well as Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.)

You must be reading on just to find out why I apologized for having punished a child who deserved the punishment, seeing how much effort I put into not exposing my child to inappropriate content.

You think it came from the school? No. From the streets? No. Indeed, I take my child to events/places where entertainment is best sourced from songs such as,

“Chuki, ndio nahisi, nikiwaza jinsi…”
“Nasinzia nikikuwaza…”

You get the drift. Innocent events filled with bouncing castles and face painting and candy floss, which my children think are world’s smartest inventions! Innocent restaurants, and a mommy must eat! So my child hears all sorts of words outside there.

But my children are below 4 years old, and when a child hears something repeatedly, that is when it forms her speech pattern

I am to blame because I am the mommy who bought the Christian music video with the word “silly”. That mommy who did not pre-watch the DVD because I trusted the artist so much, having bought several of his DVDs and establishing that they are a favourite in my house. His DVDs teach about Jesus in a way that I never could, and they were enjoyable to my youngest when she was just a few months old. My baby loves music so much, and I guess I should thank The Donut Man series for that.

We were doing great with The Donut Man until he sang “SILLY JOSHUA”. The song is a simulation of the events taking place during the battle of Jericho. The assumption is that when Joshua was matching around the walls of Jericho blowing a horn as commanded by God, the people of Jericho must have found it absurd, and silly and thus kept jeering at him from the other side of the wall,

“You can’t win a battle with a horn, O SILLY Joshua”

You should watch that song. So innocent, yet not so innocent. The Donut Man will have to remain on my shelves because I kind of get that in his culture it’s no biggie, maybe in his side of the world children tell their siblings,

“Don’t wear your sweater inside-out, silly boy!”

But in mine, phrases referring to people as “Silly” won’t work.

So, sitting with my child two days later enjoying this DVD, I heard the song, I rewound, I listened to it again and felt like spanking myself this time! I turned to my child and asked her why she had not told me that she had heard someone being called “silly” from our favorite, The Donut Man.

During spanking I had asked her where she learnt that word. My dear baby had said amidst weeping,

“I taught my-s-eee-lf”.

Poor girl.

I apologized for buying a music video with words that I do not want repeated.

And since then she has been like a policeman on my side;

“Mum why did you buy a CD with a bad word?”
“Did you ask the people selling the CD if it has a bad word?”
“Will you go to tell them not to sell that CD again?”

Okay, I explained all the mumbo-jumbo about cultures and how some people can say certain things but it does not mean they are permitted in our house.

So today she asked me,

“Mum, in which country can people tell others they are silly?”

(Americans don’t complain, The Donut Man is American…and I had to say something!)

“In America, where it snows?”
(Again, she wanted to build a snowman and I said she will do it when we go to America, Kenya does not snow!)

Long story short, if one day we go to America, she intends to use the word “silly” all she fancies. I am trying to tell her that when we do go we shall tell the Americans that they should not call each other silly…but then again I don’t want to be the mommy who turns the holiday into a mission field.

So I will just sit here and write away and remind you all to screen what your children hear, even when it is from a renowned Christian Singer like The Donut Man. I will also remind you to check the origin of every bad behavior instead of being so quick to spank, like yours truly here.

That said, The Donut Man is a pretty awesome DVD collection with simple and straightforward Christian teachings. Please go to Tune Inn, Yaya Center, at Hurlingham and buy a few videos. You must however figure out what to do about the particular song “Silly Joshua” because if your child goes along calling Kenyans silly they might be spanked by someone else if not you.

Other great Christian titles to look out for are Miss Patty Cake and Bible Readeez. At Tune Inn, not from the streets where piracy abounds.

I better run before I start you on piracy…

4 Replies

  • Christabel

    It’s interesting to see how different cultures differ and how much they affect parenting. One word is acceptable in one culture while in another it’s offensive. Diversity is such a challenge when it comes to parenting. However, parents should be on the lookout not to create a negative image of the many cultures we have.
    How much is too much when it comes to borrowing from other cultures?

    • MuthoniMugo

      I think you just take what you can and vehemently oppose what you cannot :). A line has to be drawn somewhere because we will not allow our children to do everything simply because others do it…good luck and grace to us!

  • Perpetuar

    What a lovely piece right there!! Thanks Mrs. Mugo. I have not reached there yet but hope to. Thanks for the enlightenment keep it coming 🙂
    God bless.

  • Colleta

    Thanks a lot Muthoni for this article.A very nice read and eye opener. Am actually now rushing to get Miss patty cake for my fivenager almost to be sixnager…Thanks a lot

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