children

Learning from the Ants 2

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

The Unhygienic Competition

This piece is a continuation of my study with the ants, my little cousins and nephew.

My not so little nephew, Ayo; and my little female cousin, Bolu had this thing going throughout the holiday – a very special love-hate relationship. It all started when mom declared Bolu the best behaved kid of the season. What is not to love? Unlike the boys, she is not rambunctious (except when they are all after my phone); she doesn’t track dust or mud through the house after playing football; you need not force her to take her bath, wear a clean dress or wash the dirty one; there was no occasional bladder spillage before hitting the toilet – something the boys tagged puberty from excessive playfulness and disruption of bed time, whatever that means. She is all girl!

So Ayo tried to beat Bolu to it by being the best at his chores. Although there is no separation of chores by gender in my house, there is a pattern with room for overlap. The girls run the kitchen while the boys run errands mostly outside the house. In addition to keeping the sink empty of dirty plates, Bolu also ran errands. Ayo hated this interference because even out here he seems unable to shake off this kitchen champ. When trying to be first at running errands outdoor won’t do, he denied any attempt from Bolu to assist and when the praise singing didn’t turn in his favor, he became mean to her.

I’ve been in Ayo’s shoes, despising someone in school for being a know-it-all, envying someone at home or downright spiteful of someone in church ‘cause they appear to be everyone’s favourite. Sometimes we even pick on people for things they have no control over, like being taller than us, being prettier or having a better handwriting. Petty, isn’t it?

God gave us all diverse abilities as he saw fit Ephesians 4:7. That someone is getting the attention doesn’t mean we are less important. I did choose Ayo over Bolu for any errand, because he doesn’t mind getting dirty (and yes those were needed sometimes) plus he would sprint back and forth in record time. The chores result mostly in the meals then the dirty plates. My little nephew didn’t realize that; getting dirty, not being really interested in sink duties all day, sleeping late because of silly cartoons all add to the charm of who he is – our own little man!

So God loves us as much, equally, whether we are on Forbes list or just trying to be a regular at prayer meetings! If your day of praise-singing hasn’t arrived yet, don’t hate on those being celebrated; just wait your turn and be good in whatever you’re good at. Make sure you’re really good at something.

Learning from the ants 1

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

Last Christmas was one the best I have had in years. I had the great privilege of spending it with my little cousins and nephew. Nothing beats being the favorite aunt in the world except a little me-time with my phone. Those amazing little creatures know how to turn on the magic – a little hug, cute innocent brown eyes staring up at you earnestly, the most sincere please-s in musical voices and prompt responses to my every whims and needs. Did I mention that all these adoration was because they wanted my phone?

They have a beautiful way of playing the digital games on it that has me observing them. My own special spiritual experiment – outsmarting Solomon – having the ants come to me, lol!
They would be like “aunty, what is this game about”? And while I launch into the thrills and turns of the car racing or whatever game has caught their fancy (yes I love games too) I would discover I’m busy speaking to myself. They are already at it, playing the game turn by turn! Woeful performance is not a deterrent! These chaps are relentless till they master the game. Once they’re on this mastering track, I would have to hide my phone to save some power on it! Don’t get me started on missed calls.

Fast forward to the spiritual inference and conclusion of my experiment. Newsflash! I am excited about who I get to be in this analogy – I get to be GOD. And the children, my cousins and nephew, represent all of us. Like me, God is excited, in love and interested in us (not experimentally, but with Fatherly interest), He answers our questions. But so unlike the children, we don’t receive the word or answers to our questions excitedly and with a readiness to explore unfamiliar territories. We see every avenue to exercise our faith as a puzzle. Like Martha (sister to Lazarus and Mary in the Bible), we get so hung up on the details.

We spend so much of our time pondering on every fact from ABC; the direction of the wind, the sea level; instead of sowing our seeds. My little buddies don’t sit around letting me discourage them with the list of pitfalls in the game. They just get on with it. Is it car racing, they race. Ninja fruit game, they slice.

Instead of believing God is on our side, seated on a mercy (grace) seat and looking lovingly at us as we do our thing; we believe he is busy peeping intently at us via heaven’s CCTV waiting to see us fail, and then punish us. No my little buddies don’t care that they ran down my batteries yesterday, they are back again the next day to beg for my phone.

Those little dudes are masters at disappointment and are not afraid to play again and again, even in the midst of uncertainty, amongst a crowd (of themselves). Meager scores is a thing to defend and laugh over, just before the next round! These chaps know that with practice, they would excel. So is faith, Hebrews 5:14 told us to keep practicing it. Peter told us its gold, it would be tested. We are not supposed to quit because we said it would rain but there is only a handful of cloud out there. We must go from ‘if this be your will’ prayers, to ‘effectual fervent prayers that avail much’; and from there we must reach a level where we exclaim “Father, I thank you for always hearing me”!

Oh yes, perfection is possible! And remember always that God isn’t like LASTMA lurking somewhere invisibly at the highway as you drive, waiting to catch you when you run a red light or take a wrong turn. Just drive, if you get it wrong there will be road signs to guide you safely home; you might arrive your destination later than planned but you’ll arrive! Don’t stop driving.

Sense of Wonder

by Adebayo Akande on

 

Written by Adebayo Akande
Last Christmas was like a distraction for me. Yes, I went to Church and exchanged messages (I actually felt I just had to reply incoming texts), I was just going to lie in bed all day. Then came a knock on my door, I felt like someone just wanted to ruin my day. I checked, and it was my neighbour, the housekeeper, with a plate of food and a drink. “Please manage this, it’s the best I could do….” I’m not sure I heard the rest of what he said. I was transfixed, not because someone gave me food, but that fifteen years seemed to fly through my mind in a split second. I collected the food, mumbled something that I hope sounded like thanks, and went back to my bed. Then the tears rolled down uncontrollably. Yes, for the first time in almost three years, I cried.

I remember as far back as when I was five. My siblings would make ugly cardboard chains and hang them up in our living room, and then we would arrange cards in and on every available space. Every single card just had to feature! Then mother would come home the day before Christmas with the latest additions to our wardrobe. I had an aunt, now of blessed memory, who would without fail bring me at least a native attire and groundnut from Kaduna.
On Christmas day proper, we would cook for the entire neighbourhood, and I had the unsavory task of chief distributor. I hated this task, especially when I had to take food to households where my crush lived-(be doing as if you too didn’t have crush when you were ten o). I got tipped for my efforts though; we were happy, it was Christmas, and we were family!

Fast forward fifteen to twenty years, and here I am. The one-time baby of the house, now in his own apartment, siblings scattered all over the country and the globe, about to spend Christmas just sleeping, because I have lots to do, a major journey coming up, money to make the next day; I was even going to take a locum job that night!

What has happened?

I know what you are thinking, I grew up! You’re probably right, but I think it is more than that, even worse.
That little boy has become so engrossed with life that he has lost his wonder! He lost interest in hanging the lights, giving food to the neighbours; he was saving the money he has for an upcoming journey, a couple of examinations, maybe an engagement ring too…winks.

Can you, dear reader, relate with this? What are the things you’ve outgrown? Did you once sing in a choir? Dance crazy with friends? Play video games all night? Rolled car tyres in your shorts?
But now you worry about meeting deadlines, working overtime to make more money, you question the rationale behind having to pay so much for cable TV-must we watch comedy central? Why go to the cinema, isn’t it the same movie I’ve got on my hard drive?

You are probably right. It is a hostile world out there, and for some of us, it’s like we were just dropped into the hot zone in a nuclear war. The transition from student life to being workers was a tad drastic and sudden.
But we are gradually becoming less and less happy and enthusiastic about life, and what is worse is, we hardly notice! Before you say “nah, that isn’t me” can you just tell me how you feel Sunday nights when the thought of another working week flashes through your mind? Exactly!
By virtue of my profession, I have been stressed, and I’ve seen beautiful sights. Top of the list is in the delivery room, two near indescribable looks: one of a baby staring into space, with eyes taking in their very first pictures, and that of a mother who was screaming in pain now beholding her newborn like the throbbing pain never happened. I hope one day I’ll find apt words to describe the latter.
But then few weeks on, the same woman would look stressed and sleep starved, and that wonderful look practically gone!

How can we keep our wonder, even when life happens?
I used to wonder why Jesus said “…unless you return to square one, and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again like this child, would rank high in God’s kingdom.” Matthew 18:3-4 Message translation.

I think I know now. A child can look at one picture, listen to one song a thousand times over and still be in awe. I used to carry my niece on my shoulder and run. She would be terrified, but immediately I put her down she would open her arms and request I carry her again.

I get bored eating. I wish there was a way I could be filled without having to waste time chewing. I feel it’s a waste of time if all you’re doing for ten minutes is just eating. So now I use that time to catch up on news, or some other things.

Well, let me attempt to bring this to a close, at least for now. Please don’t let the rigors of adulthood rob you of the life, the excitement you had as a child. While we must take charge and be responsible adults, we must also remember that part of that responsibility is to be happy, so we can build happy homes. We may be low on cash, but we shouldn’t be bereft of bliss. I know, the two go together, but that’s where we miss it again! I won’t sermonize much, but please don’t let us look back on our youth and wonder where the years went. Dance with your friends, sit in the open field and look at the sky. Buy kulikuli and cold water and close your eyes to remember how you used to love this as a five year old. Share, give, love, and live!

Let me stop here. Well, later that Christmas evening, I visited my parents, bought and shared gifts to neighbours, called childhood friends and spent hours reminiscing; then made a promise to myself and my future family that there will always be “merry” in our Christmas and indeed every other day of our lives.
May we never lose our sense of wonder!

Locum – a part-time job a doctor undertakes as an extra source of income
Kulikuli- a staple snack made from groundnut

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