Pictures and alerts on “Project X” must now have circulated among all our phones, whether you are a parent to a five-month-old or a fifteen-year-old.
If you have not seen them, read on, I will share them in this blog post (some are pretty explicit, feel free to skim through).
Do you know the first thing I did when I saw them? I forwarded the non-explicit one to my little teenage brother. You might judge me, say that I am the one who made it known to him that Project X is even happening, but come on, he is on Facebook and WhatsApp and a few other forums I can’t keep up with, so he would have known anyway, and so will your child (now or in future). I sent him the picture and warned him that if he goes for Project X, I will be on his neck in a very bad way. Don’t ask questions.
There is a category of people, however, that should not be in the least bit bothered that Project X exists. You are in this category if:
- Your child has permission to lose his or her mind, for one night only.
- Your child is old enough to know it’s wrong but young enough not to give a fuck. (Their word; they even highlighted it so we can see it really well)
- You feel that it’s the high time your child lost his or her virginity.
- You actually believe in nudity as a dressing code.
- You support smoking weed.
- You are all in for drugs (herbs, pills, booze) and you like this “Taxi” activity.
I am quite hopeful that I didn’t describe you, so I’m gonna mention a few things we can do to bring up responsible teenagers in a generation that is rubbing “Project X” into our faces. Such parties have been there in the past but seldom did the organizers shamelessly publicize them. They have hidden them under “Naivasha trip with former classmates” or just seemingly “regular daytime birthday parties”. The fact that they are now being flippant shows that respect has gone to the grave. The crew knows that we can’t do anything about it or else they just want to irk us by making it so obvious. None is better than the other. I am positive that Project X will not pull off, I have such faith in Kenyans. But still, another one will come up, and we might not know of that one at that time. Here are a few things we can do before it happens;
1. Call on responsible leadership and governance.
Someone should be able to stop this; the local chief or the president! While it is no crime to lose virginity or dress skimpily or go for a night party, drugs are illegal. And that’s just where we can start.
2. Know where your children are – everyday.
Whether you are working a crazy job to keep your children clothed, fed and housed, or whether you trust your children to be responsible. Ask them where they are going, with whom, to do what and till when. Get a contact, offer to drop them or pick them or do a random verification. They owe you answers for as long as they are under your care.
3. Teach your children to account for the money you give them.
Do not appoint yourself the chief of proper spending,just yet. Do not deny them money either. Just let your children account for money as soon as they know how to count it. It doesn’t matter if they bought lollipops with the entire of it, or they spent it all on data bundles or if they lost it, just make yourself as a parent a safe place where they can come and say I did XYZ. That way, you will not be financing the Project X’s of this world while thinking you are buying jeans.
4. Be available for your children as they grow up.
If you are available, you will influence them. If you are not available, the person who is available will influence them. Be sure a smorgasbord of influencers is greatly awaiting your unavailability.
5. Be more than physically present.
I have a four-year-old who always has a way of getting me to take her out on a weekday. I pick her from school and she either reminds me of something we did not buy over the weekend (because the supermarket is in a mall) or tells me how good she has been of late or how much she loves chips and she loves me more. I know all her tactics but I always fall for them, partly because I do not mind a good cup of coffee and partly because she threatens not to teach me the new big word they learnt at school. Who doesn’t love big words? Not me. So, I have learnt the words caterpillar and kitten and basket. Anyway, I usually make her promise to do her colouring while we are at the restaurant, while I read at least two chapters of my current read. You will find us in a restaurant, mother and daughter, physically together but each in their own world. Many times, people look at me like I am the most hopeless social-media addict (thanks to e-books) and twice I have been asked questions about why we are so busy and silent by well-meaning Kenyans who have no idea that as soon as I get into my house I can’t even enjoy a nice long phone-call or do a blog post in peace. Those well-meaning-Kenyans are right, it is not enough to be physically present; be present and engage the child.
6. Befriend your child.
You are their parent first, then their friend. Not the other way round. They need to have a friend in you that they can tell secrets and little things, a trustworthy friend for that matter. But they also need to know who is in charge. We want to keep the friendship but also won’t tolerate indiscipline so as not to lose the friendship.
7. Lead by example.
You rave all night, come home drunk, carrying home more beer for afternoon consumption. Then you tell your teenager not to drink…good luck! It wont work. (Your child might never be a drunkard, but that’s due to other positive influences, not you). Wait until your child is old enough to navigate your phone, see the kind of pictures and clips therein, or read some messages that went to numbers your child can tell are not their dad’s or mum’s. Just wait until they are old enough to see how badly you treat their mum or dad, or until they see you result to verbal or physical fights…then try to teach responsibility, or respect… you will see for yourself how ineffective that lesson will be.
8. Tell them things, plainly so.
Your child does not need to hear about how virginity is lost or how babies are made from strangers or even school teachers. Learn to say things plainly and simply in the level of understanding of the particular child. If your child is a pre-teen,there is no point in beating about the bush and chasing all sorts of rabbits, they can understand almost anything. Do try the Eurobond saga on them.
9. Pray for your children.
This should have been the first one, but I saved the best two for the last. Pray for each of your children, deliberately.
Be able to at any time wholeheartedly say, “For this child, I have prayed”.
The rest of us cannot pray for your children with the fervency and consistency you can. We cannot go into the details you can. We cannot be as passionate as you can. Your child’s heart is in the hands of God who formed and created that child in your womb. He has ways around it that you do not. Your prayers will always reach further than your parenting abilities can. Pray for the thoughts that invade his or her mind, that they be pleasing to God, pray for the friendships your child forms, for their health, for their academic excellence, for their sense of responsibility, for their salvation…for everything. Pray. Even if you can do nothing else I have said so far, you can pray.
10. Forgive that child, and do not blame yourself.
After all is said and done, know that there is only one perfect parent – God. If your child does not turn out the way you thought they would, do these two important things;
- Forgive your child, truly and wholeheartedly.
- Do not blame yourself.
Project X, fail with a bang 🙂