This is one of my favorite pictures from when I was a baby. It's my elder sister and I posing for a picture that was to be sent to my father in Denmark.
I don’t remember much from the time that I was a child. I do however remember feeling safe. Some memories stand out for me however from the early years of my life. On the weekends when my dad was around, my mum and dad would buy either goat’s meat or cornflakes, I do not know why it was one of the two foods but it was always one of the two. They would set up an eating place, one bowl or dish, and place it on a table in the corridor of our small house. My siblings and I would sit around this table together and eat the cornflakes/goat’s meat till the bowl was empty. My mum and dad would stand at the end of the corridor, holding each other and watching us eat together. I can’t remember the exact expressions on their faces but I would like to think that it was something like; ‘Yup, we created that’.
Another memory that stands out for me is one time when my dad came to school in Primary School. I think he was there to see our teachers. Since he was usually travelling, and not really around, this wasn’t something that happened often. I remember it was lunch time and we were outside playing and I managed to see him just as he was getting to the gate. I remember asking him to play with me, for just a few minutes. After a bit of hesitation, he agreed. We played ‘A ring of roses’ right there, in that crowded school yard. A man and his daughter. Best three minutes of my child hood.
It might not seem like it, especially in our African culture, but children do remember a good bit from their childhood. Some experiences stay with them their whole lives and even go on to influence the decisions they make and ultimately shape the person they become. Yes, we do want our children to be successful in school. We want them to be healthy and clean. But is that all we want our children to be? Is that what we are giving them in those very important first years?
You want your child to know he/she is loved. You want them to know they are accepted and they are valued. You want them to be well rounded individuals, with character and values and empathy. You want them to be happy. You want to give them that extra oomph that not only tugs at the brain but at the heart as well.
I’m not a mother yet, but I am someone’s child. I know for sure that some of those early experiences contributed to who I am today.
Let’s give our children the best start in life.