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Of Non-Tooth Fairies And Teachers Failing Our Kids

shocked-womanLet’s get one thing out of the way, right off the bat. Junior is not young and naive any more. The things that used to fly with him no longer do. I discovered this in the most awkward way. The other day, he came home with one of his tooth pulled out. He had stored it in his now empty water bottle. He went ahead and asked me that since he has now learnt to pull out his teeth, whether I could put more money under his pillow. His ballpack figure was Kshs.100. Here’s some perspective for you. I always used to put Kshs.10 under his pillow as he slept, and we all went along playing the “tooth fairy” ruse. I have absolutely no idea when or wherefrom, that he discovered that I am the “tooth fairy” over and above the mother! Now here we are, tooth in hand and Junior asking for a raise of 900%. I, of course, am staring at him with this “deer in the headlights” look. Should I apologize for calling myself the “tooth fairy”? Should I send him to his room for extortion and playing dump for God knows how long?

Another thing we need to get out of the way is there is no better person to raise a child than a parent. That said, our generation is the working parent generation. This means that not only are we busy bringing home the bacon from 8am-5pm (ok this phrase is ridiculous how much bacon can people eat?), but we are also finding ourselves eating into more hours in our days, including weekends and public holidays (we Kenyans love these but we love money more). This means, no matter how much we wish to spend time with our children, they end up spending more time in school with the teachers. Thus, giving the teachers a responsibility to not only teach the children but also educate them in the ways of the world.

So Junior comes home last evening and as he dumps his heavy sack of books he asks to nobody in particular; (really sometimes he just throws questions out there for anybody to pick up and answer him) “why are girls treated better than boys?” The adults in the house look at one another and assumes he must be talking to himself (he has inherited this from me that’s why I know he was not swapped at the hospital). After realizing that we are all playing deaf, he repeats. This time, he throws the question to me. Now here, ladies and gentlemen, is where I have to be very careful how I handle this situation. We have already determined that fairy tales no longer works with this boy and even for candid talks, I am not interested in confusing him more than I have to. So I go ahead and ask him why he thinks this is the case.

The story goes that during break, one of the girls was trying to get the attention of some boys who were playing but the boys were so engrossed with play and they really did not have time to engage the poor girl. Wait, no. This girl is not to be referred to as the “poor girl” because as soon as one of the boys decided to dismiss her and tell her to go and find another game, the girl went ahead and kicked the boy! Yes, I know. At this point, the boy is nearly flying in a blind rage, but luckily, the teachers are always keeping a close watch on the children as they play, and SHE intervenes. Notice how I have capitalised her gender. You will see why. At this point, recess is cut short and said teacher is having a chat with the kids and what he tells them is that girls are delicate flowers and they should not be treated badly. Of course the boys start asking, “what if the girl hits a boy”? The teacher says that it should be reported.

Now, the above response, is, by all intents and purposes, the best and the teacher was right, up until then. Where she failed miserably is when she went ahead and told the children that girls cannot take care of them and it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of them. She then went ahead and said that boys are supposed to be strong and should not cry and when they get hurt, they should tough it out. They should not report everything that happens to them and they should be able to handle a little roughness. Agreed, they should be able to handle a little roughness. But who said that they should be treated different than boys? Is it a wonder that today’s male figure is feeling left out? That the girl child is getting all the attention? Does that mean that men do not have issues that should be equally addressed? What happens when that boy grows up and he has to interact with society? Do you think he will have the same understanding he would have had if he would have received all the care and attention that he needed when he was young?

Back to Junior and I. I painstakingly took time to inform him that it is true, boys tend to be stronger than girls and he should never feel the need to push or hit a girl. If the girl does similar things, the best thing to do is to walk away and report it to the teacher or let me know for a more diplomatic handling of the situation. I did emphasize that all human beings are equal and we should all try to treat each other with respect, just like we would like others to treat us. Hence, the situation of “why are girls more special than boys” was sufficiently diffused.


Tax Return, Login Math, Service Pack and Prison Stripes

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I tend to be clueless every so often. Take this monster called Income Tax Returns. Not to say that I have not been filing the darn things, but I have been fortunate enough to have the nice accounts guy previously file the said animals for me. Now this time round, I happen to be the everything in my new position. That means, filing the Tax Returns alien animals falls squarely on my docket. How did I find out? It was on 29th June, yes, yesterday at 10 o’clock tea that I was told not to forget to file the Returns. You can imagine the look I gave to the person passing this information on. I swear if I had the laser eyes that I have often wished for, I would have melted the skin off her body.

Moving on, since I had no choice, I decided to save the laser eye skin melting procedure for another day and salvage the few remaining hours. Luckily (or so I thought at the time) I do not have to go to the dreaded Times Towers, where the government Returns are filed. Trust me, that building is where nightmares are brewed. The government have done and gone digital and seeing as I count myself as part of the digital era (debatable), my life was nearly saved from the nightmare world (or so I thought).

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Back to the online filing. See, we have been priding ourselves, as a country, as being the Silicon Savannah (I need someone to explain this to me). That means that our technology is beating a good number of African countries hands down. I am told that we have even knocked South Africa off the park of technology. Our government is also hot on the heels of technology and since she wants her good citizens to have it easy reporting our earnings, she has gone ahead and gone digital *sigh*. Me and my excitement decided to load the government online portal to fill in the Returns. Enter hurdle one. Having had an account whose password I could not remember (do not even think of judging me you have been here), the first thing I needed was to be reminded of my password. After hitting refresh a total of 30 times and getting the above error (true story) I managed to retrieve my password. Oh and let’s mention here that every time you access the login form, you have to do arithmetic. Math and me were never bestie. Like ever! It seems that all of the Kenyan population minus the line snaking round Times Towers had decided to do a last minute job and hop online. That portal had never seen traffic like that and I am sure when they were testing the system, they did not anticipate a total of 500,000 Kenyans accessing the portal at the same time! Yeah, Kenyans and our last-minute rush, even after we have been reminded since January that this was coming.

Enter hurdle number 2. Figuring out the system. For the averagely savvy Kenyan woman like me, figuring the portal was not difficult at that point. Smoothly I sailed, still refreshing the darn page, till I reached the point where they say “download form this or that”. Let me tell you, with age comes patience because a younger me would have thrown a few stones across the town direct to the said Towers. The download itself, after 7 attempts, took 30 minutes. Let’s chalk this one as well, to all of the 500,000 people trying to download the same form. Now, form downloaded!

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Remember I mentioned that I was an averagely savvy woman? My Savvyness does not go past the “download form and activate macros”. No, seriously! How in the world would someone who doesn’t use computers figure this out? Well, I do and I went ahead and tried to activate macros *sigh*. At this point, my machine says that I need to “upgrade to Service Pack 2”. Say what now? Remember, I am on a deadline. This is now 9:00pm. This process started at 12:00 noon. I am nearly having to build a brand new computer in order to file my tax returns! This is where I call on all the friends, frienemies and enemies that I had not talked to since December last year. I will not let some “Service Pack” keep me from being an upstanding citizen! Shaaaaah!!!!! I am this close to plucking out a loc or 2 of my hard hair that took half a decade to grow!

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Finally! A service pack this or the other has successfully installed. Back to filing the annual returns. That took all of 15 minutes. I know, right? I should have gone manual! But remember I am on a deadline. Now, back to the Portal Of Death. Upload attempt No.1. Message? Validate your form and submit again. O_O Seriously???? It’s 11:00pm for heaven’s sake! I have one more hour to get this thing online! Back to the microsoft thing and macros. Look for the ‘validate’ button. Press it to kingdom come and hope my machine forgives me tomorrow. Validate and uploaded with 15 minutes to spare Yaay!

Following morning, after wearing my bragging badge over my head, some soul with a death wish declares with an overly loud voice that the deadline, in fact, was not on 29th midnight but on 30th June. Before midnight!

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Moral of this story? I hate technology. I should wear a headscarf when dealing with anything government, otherwise my locs are in jeopardy! Also, the government needs to get a better portal thingie, otherwise this one is shot to hell. Also, *repeats to self* I shall never ever ever wait until June to do the blasted returns. Also, I will  not let this hell of a system make me a bad citizen. Mostly because I don’t look good in anything stripped and I figure the prison stripes will make my butt look fat.