31 July 2017
I spoke with a 17-year-old, two years ago, a young boy, just finished high school then, very brilliant boy, son of high profile parents in the country and I could see a lot of manness in his eyes.
Within the hour of speaking with him, it was as though he had always looked for someone to talk to about the things he has been going through and his ‘adventures’. It made me remember how boring my teenage years were compared to his.
After a while that day, he had to go home with his parents, he insisted keeping in touch on WhatsApp, I asked his parents if it was okay with them and they gave their consent.
A few days later, I got a message from him and after the general pleasantries of ‘what’s up?’, ‘how far?’, ‘how you dey na?’. We had quite some chat and he asked if he could call me on WhatsApp, which I said was okay – he went on to ask me specific questions about my life as a teenager, while we compared how the times have changed.
He was surprised that at my age I’d know many of the artists and hit songs out there, both local and international… ‘it’s unusual for someone your age to be current’, he says.
Having led many youth and teenager groups for many years, it was not a strange comment.
After some minutes, I had to get off the call, because I had some work deadline I needed to get done.
The next day, about the same time I got another call from him. I was a bit free, so I was available to talk for a little longer, we ended up talking for about 45mins and all I did was listen mostly.
At 16.5 years old, he seemed to have had more sex than I ever did when I was double his age, drug abuse and some scary adventures… the question is, ‘how did he start?’
He said his first sex was in a cinema theatre, he was 15 at the time… Cinema whaaaaat??!!!
His father thought he was too young to talk about sex, but already had started toying with masturbation since he was 11. He didn’t know what sex was, but he sure knew he had one gadget he’s heard could do wonders.
‘She made me do it, but I wanted to…’, he said, as he chuckled at the memory of his first ecstasy.
Many times, we are quick to judge the young men why they fly off doing crazy things while we nod at them wishing they ‘reap what they’re sowing’, but if the foundation is destroyed…what building can stand on it?
I remember asking the boy, if the parents knew about any of his escapades, he screamed ‘IMPOSSIBLE!’, I said they must have had an idea, and his response was ‘You’re only a good boy, when you do what they tell you to do, but when you want to do something for yourself, they always say No, or disagree or want you to do things their own way…so there’s no point talking to them, and when you get lonely and alone in a house full of people, you will always want an escape…when you want an escape, the result is what I’ve become, I hate it, it’s fun, but I think I’m addicted already’.
I asked why he would give me all that load of information about himself and his affairs, his response was ‘it’s easier to trust a nice stranger than a fierce relative’.
We joked over the statement, but the grievous thing is… he trusted me, as a stranger, just because I listened.
I’ve followed up with him over the past two years, we’ve met a couple of times, he’s recovered fully from alcohol and drug abuse, he admits he’s reduced his sex dependency, but says honestly, that it’s a bad habit he’d like to keep, but in moderation…honest guy.
However, honestly if he were to be my son telling me all of that two years ago… I think I might have killed him first, then raise him back from the dead to finish his story and then kill him again and raise him back from the dead.
And that is the natural inclination of most parents, judge every tiny action, but we call it discipline, we tell our kids what we expect them to become, rather than help them evolve into their own and sometimes the kids feel the confinement too early… they look for that ‘escape with a nice stranger’, and this is the way they get recruited into several other things, because sometimes the strangers use it as blackmail against them and digs the naive kids deeper and deeper into their darkness.
Parents lose the soul of their kids, thinking as long as they appear right, show up in church or mosque, pass their exams, makes them look good, then all is well…wrong!
Many times as parents we only shine the outer casing for ourselves when the inner cells are long gone.
We need to pay more attention, from the moments our children seek our attention, our hugs, kisses, a cuddle, sometimes these are the outward expression of inner longings.
As they grow older, have hangouts with one kid at a time, go buy something from the store together, while driving there ask about general stuff like friends, wicked teachers, assembly ground, likes and dislikes, share a joke about stuff like that, leave their grades aside.
Just talk about the things you would have wished your father discussed with you, and you might likely be doing the best thing for your son….your kids.
We have to be more deliberate about raising our kids, the next generation depends on it.
This is a forum for men to share and learn together from their peculiar issues to become men of honour in a society that expects less.