Written by Glory Edozien
Secondary school was definitely not my favourite period in life. The process of preparing for boarding house life was just as tedious as being there. One cutlass, one hoe. 2 yellow checked skirt and blouse housewear. Two white short sleeved shirts and 2 very dull grey skirts as school uniforms. One mop, one broom and one bucket, with your name written across with indelible ink, although that didn’t matter- your bucket still managed to disappear 2 weeks into the term. As dreary as my secondary school days seemed, there are still moments that I will forever reflect on fondly- My father taking me shopping to buy provisions- I had lied told him that I was allergic to NASCO cornflakes, so he had to cough out extra naira for Kelloggs. My mother, covering my hair with our downstairs seating room cushion covers and then making me kneel for hours in prayer- and then my daddy driving me to school.
The two hour trip from Victoria Island to Ijanikin was usually uneventful. Sometimes we chatted. Other times we rode in silence, our thoughts miles away in the slow moving traffic. But then one day, the unthinkable happened. I forgot my entire school uniform set at home. It would mean I’d fail the check in process, where the boarding house mistress checked that you had all the items for boarding house and ransacked your luggage looking for banned items. Failing the check in process, would mean I’d be either be asked to go back home or wait till my father went home and returned with the uniforms. I froze as we got out of the car. Wahala!
When my father asked me what was wrong, I could barely lift my face to meet his gaze. With my eyes fixed on the floor, I told him what had happened. I was expecting a swift slap across the face (or as we called it in those day whooz), or at the very least the scolding of a life time. What happened next was not only unexpected but has stayed with me forever.
“Never ever put your face down when you are talking to someone. If you make a mistake, look them in the eye and apologise, but don’t you ever look down.”
My father must have told me a million things growing up but there are a few I remember as vividly. I credit so much to the person I have become to that particular statement. My friends often marvel at my ability to approach almost anyone and tell them about myself and ask for something mutually beneficial. But there is something about looking someone right in the eye, that creates a brief moment of similarity or dare i even say equality.
Sometimes teaching your child confidence is not in the obvious things. It may not be enough to just say “be confident” or by giving them the best education and/or things money can buy, opportunities for teaching your child confidence are hidden in everyday situations. As I look back on my life and my relationship with my father, I find profound bits and pieces of his confidence rhetoric instilled in various situations.
- The assurance of love- a parent’s love for their child is usually unquestionable. To those that know us, my father and I are probably the most emotionally expressive father and daughter pair you will meet. But it isn’t just about the telling or the expression of that love but what it leads you to believe about yourself. My father always says “My darling daughter you can tell my anything, I may scream or get angry at first but I will always calm down and give you a solution.’ Time and time again I have tested this statement and found it unshakable even in the direst of circumstances. Like the time I was indefinitely suspended from school, was struggling with completing my PhD and when the then love of my life broke my heart. The assurance of my father’s love lets me know there is a place I can always return to when all else fails.
- Showing me positive role models– your knowledge about the boundaries of possibilities is dependent on those you surround yourself with. My dad either knowingly or unknowingly showed me the possibilities of what I could do with my life by always telling me about the achievements of family members. Off course this could sometimes create high pressure to live up to expectations but exposure to the right role models balanced with love can be useful. For instance, it never would have crossed my mind that I could graduate with a PhD before the age of 30 had my father not told me that I could and regularly remind me that academics was in ‘our blood’.
- Pride and confidence in the work you do- My father for the greater part of my life was a civil servant. A qualified and well known obstetrician and gynecologist who took pride in the work he did. For some reason my dad always spoke to me about work. Whether it was regarding the National Health Insurance Scheme or his work with the Primary Health Care Centres. Although my little mind could only partly synthesize my father’s work, I ultimately grew to understand the importance of being known for the work you do rather than the money you have- which in my opinion is a stronger foundation for confidence building
There are many ways to teach your daughter or son confidence but if my father’s example is any guide the greatest guides are quite likely to be in the littlest of everyday things.
P.S Happy Father’s Day Daddy…I love you!