Updated: Aug 2, 2018
I have never seen so much attention given to teenagers as they do in the West. The overt analyzing of their feelings enhanced with loads of research on ‘why kids suddenly change and act the way they do as teenagers’ is foreign to me. Sometime ago, I watched a clip of an American talk show host tearing up over her teenage son’s refusal to acknowledge her as he used to. I tried imagining my mum getting sentimental over a teenage me and being particularly interested in my ‘feelings’. Let’s just say that image never surfaced.
My mother was the utmost disciplinarian. The alert commander-in-chief ready to curb any form of rebellion in her kids. Now, I wasn’t as rebellious as many teenagers, but I sure did have some ill-advised outbursts, that I did not regret. While the brave ones among us were rebelling by jumping over the fence to meet a new girlfriend or boyfriend or sneaking out at night to go the club, mine was quite uneventful. My rebellion centered around refusing to go on errands, arguing with the commander-in-chief and most importantly refusing to go buy a bag of rice.
Oh yes, as tiny as I was with no muscular definition to my frame, I really do not know how it suddenly became my chore to go to the lady down the street, who would expertly separate a whole bag of rice into two bags. I then had to make two trips to complete the rotation of having a full bag of rice in the house. Those bags weighed a ton. It did not make sense that I the tiniest of siblings ended up with this chore. So one day I rebelled. “I ain’t your bag of rice carrier,” I screamed. Of course, I didn’t use the word ‘ain’t’ neither did I even say that. I just mumbled a strong defiance and was thoroughly ‘disciplined’ for it.
The teenage me wanted to be left alone. Alone with my thoughts and novels. But my mother and the host of ever-ready aunties related by blood or NO blood with their hawkish eyes preying on me hindered my prospects of having many precious alone time. The Nigerian aunt in particular is specially trained in sending every living soul on errands. She has earned the right to disturb all the little people around her. She’s older than you and God forbid she runs her errands herself. She sends you on marathon errands and sarcastically dare you to make one mistake, just one, so she can give you that utmost ‘correction’ of your life.
I think I ended up developing the phobia of being stuck with any older Nigerian woman, even if she was just a year older. One is liable to operate a courier service for her and her friends, 40 hours per week with no pay. An exaggeration you say, but who cares? That was how I felt. One or two aunties got the best of my rebellion in these simple, more realistic words than I ain’t your bag of rice carrier. It sounds more like “Aunty, I’m not going… Leave me alone.” As usual my defiant outburst ends with commotion a.k.a. ‘discipline’.
As one can see, I didn’t do much. Some of my mates sold their dad’s properties, stole their parents money, contributed to the growing Nigerian population by impregnating fellow teenage girls or in typical Nigerian parent lingo – joined ‘bad gang’. Either way, the common denominator was that, as Nigerian kids, we got ‘disciplined’ whether we rebelled amateurishly by stealing meat from the pot or rebelled professionally by stealing the money that was supposed to be used for your school fees. The point is you stole! And the antidote for your teenage rebellion was to be ‘disciplined’.
To be spanked, flogged, BEATEN, or slapped as punishment.