The way I see it, the song writer hit the nail on the head when he/she wrote:
‘I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to…’
It was just over a week ago and a number of us were assembled at a function at the Ivor Walters Primary School.
I looked on in awe at the children, as they sang their hearts out, with songs of praise to God almighty.
There was an overriding sense of innocence that prevailed on those faces.
Standing close to me was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and longtime friend, Mr. Kevin Barrett.
I leaned over and I whispered: ‘With all of this innocence, it is hard to fathom that one or more of these children will ever get involved in deviant behaviour, one of these days. What really happens between now and when they get older?’
What he told me was instructive:
He said that when he was growing up, he never saw his father smoke; get drunk; mistreat women; never heard him swear and the like.
‘I don’t know if it was his intention to teach me certain values but I certainly learnt them and I still live by them today,’ he stated.
Now, those were admirable qualities that Mr. Barrett’s father instilled in him, even if unwittingly.
Maybe though, the formula does not necessarily work, 100% all of the time.
In my case, I never heard my mother and father swear but somewhere between ages five and seven, I used to lift up the biggest bad words. My mouth was filthy!
You see, even though I did not hear them at home, my father once ran a shop, with an attached rum shop and being around the shop for long enough periods, I was inevitably thrust into the University of Swear Words and I learnt them well-better than any lessons at school.
Well I newa!
The difference is though, that when my mother and father found out where I was heading, the habit was literally beaten out of me.
The rod was not spared by any stretch of the imagination.
What was then regarded as PUNISHMENT is now being touted as CHILD ABUSE!
By the way, those days, it was not just the belt either. It was basically anything that came to their hands first. From yard broom to pot stick, to frying pan. You name it!
Small wonder that whenever I hear anyone swear now, I wince. It is agony to my ears.
So, Mr. Barrett further explained that children are like sponges.
Then I guess because we were all ‘born in sin and sharpen in iniquity’, we learn the BAD more easily and a lot better that that which is GOOD.
So, in essence, we, the ADULTS, are largely to blame for the roads that our children take.
This concept of ‘do as I say and not as I do, really does not work anymore.
Children see us for the hypocrites we are.
EXAMPLE SET-EXAMPLE FOLLOWED.
I am reminded of something I made mention of sometime ago.
One of my uncles of blessed memory, was working on a fencing project at our home.
He was a chain smoker-one in-one out.
He did not know that he was being closely observed by one of my brothers (who will remain unnamed, for the purpose of this class).
One day, when he dropped one of his cigarette butts, my brother sneakingly picked it up and had a long hard pull.
He looked around and saw what he was doing and gave him a walloping out of this world.
I don’t believe that he has ever touched a cigarette since but what lesson was my uncle really teaching us?
So Mr. Barret and I concluded that we ought to model positive traits to our children and when they are caught going contrary, we can’t just pat them on the back and say they are CUTE.
If we allow them to stray, one day, we won’t be able to bend the tree and too late will be our cry.
The bible admonishes us to TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO AND WHEN HE IS OLD HE WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT.
If we want to maintain the innocence in our children, we must be example and trend setters.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it.