“Nyathi ong’er onyuol gi kuo” (a baby monkey is born a thief). This is a Luo saying that means children are born into already existing cultures.
My daughter is a thief.
Actually, to be fair, she’s a robber. Because she doesn’t come in where you’re not around and spirit away your things. She looks you right in the eye, with intimidation and pride, and takes your things right out of your possession. You can plead, beg and threaten revenge but all these tactics don’t seem to make any difference to her hard heart.
Example #1: She walks into our room in the morning, yells her usual, ‘haaaiii. Baba. Mama.’ And proceeds to grab Martin’s wallet and remove some money. He tries to stop her, saying things like, ‘Kendi no. Don’t take Baba’s money. Give me my wallet.’ Nothing usually works. She takes the money and she leaves. Mueni stopped her from throwing it into the dustbin one morning. I usually pick it up somewhere in the house on most days. But take it she does.
Example #2: She has learned how to open the fridge. Why is the fridge so interesting? There are eggs in there. We still haven’t figured out what she wants to do with the eggs. But she opens the fridge and steals the eggs- at least it’s one egg at a time. She is supervised 99.9% of the time. But the 0.01% of the time that she sneaks away from us, it’s to go to the fridge and steal an egg. Sigh.
Example #3: Whenever we have guests in our house, and this is a common occurrence, she will go over to them and take their phones right out of their hands or bags. Its become such that, we issue a warning, ‘Welcome to our home. Don’t give Kendi your phone, getting it back will be a real fight against the ever growing strong will of a 1 year old little girl.’ Sometimes our guests laugh and listen. Sometimes they laugh and don’t listen and then when the time to go home comes and they are asking Kendi for their phone, it’s our turn to laugh. ‘We told you’, we are often tempted to say. But we are good people, Martin and I, so we usually just try to help them get their phones back. Double sigh.
Example #4: And this is a daily occurrence- she goes into my room where I keep my handbag and rummages through it. All the while, I’m in in the living room trying to work and yelling, ‘Kendi bi ka. Kik i kwal gika‘ (Kendi, come here, don’t steal my stuff). At which point she promptly comes back with my wallet, lip balm, car keys, pen or anything else from my handbag. It’s a riot.
So, now I have decided to put up a kind of jail in my home- for little robbers. I will act as police, judge and warden. I will arrest my little munchkin every time she steals something, I will issue out a sentence and throw her in jail. Hopefully it will work and we shall see some sort of reform happening, even for the whole family.