Kendi: Mama, today was a bad day!
OK, let’s pause for a reminder- Kendi is 4 years old. She’ll be 5 in about 3 months. She is standing just inside her bedroom door, as I get Keyo ready for bed, and telling me this with a deep sigh. My first instinct is to laugh right? What a dramatic thing for a pre-schooler to say. But, I look at her and see that she is dead serious.
Me: A bad day?
Me: The whole day was bad?
Kendi: (Pause) no
Me: A bad evening?
Kendi: Yes, it was a bad evening
Me: Why honey?
Kendi: You know, first Catherine made me puke (Catherine is their nanny and she pried the toothbrush from Kendi’s mouth, after asking her so many times to finish brushing her teeth. Kendi then spat on the floor and decided it was puke). Then, you didn’t give me nyama (meat) (Catherine had cooked, ugali, vegetables and beef for dinner. Kendi requested that she have some egg as she won’t be eating beef. It’s important to note that we don’t usually give a choice for dinner- we are not a restaurant- but because Catherine usually makes me some eggs as a vegetarian option when she cooks meat, she obliged. Kendi then decided that she didn’t want egg after all and would be having beef instead. She was whining and crying and carrying on. I told her that she could eat the egg or skip dinner. She chose to skip said dinner and instead go cry in her room). And then I cut myself when I was taking sukari nguru (jaggery) from the kitchen (As Catherine was cutting through the block of jaggery, Kendi kept asking for some. Catherine asked her to wait by the door so that she could finish cutting. She didn’t listen- surprise!- and stuck her hand in to grab a piece just as the knife was coming down, she has a small nick on her finger)
Yes! It was a VERY eventful evening for Kendi! And one worthy of a hot stone massage after, for Catherine and I.
Me: Yes, sounds like that was a very bad evening. Dhi adhi inind (just go to sleep), Kiny biro bedo much better (tomorrow will be much better), I promise.
Kendi: No, tomorrow won’t be better
Me: Kendi, don’t say that, please give God a chance to do good in your life. Don’t proclaim that tomorrow will be a bad day and you aren’t already even there yet. OK?
Kendi: OK, mama, tomorrow will be a good day
Me: Yes! Indeed it will
And don’t we do that all the time as adults? Your colleague does something to irritate you at 10:15 in the morning, which makes you late for a meeting at 11:00 and then, when you get home at 5:00pm, you proclaim how the day was so bad?
Don’t you stand at the end of 2018 and attest to how bad the year was, because that year someone you loved deeply, died in April?
Don’t you look out at 2019 and pronounce, ‘this is going to be a very hard financial year’?
And now, we have taught my 4 year old to think like this. Take one incident during the day and create the whole day as bad.
I don’t ever say how it was a bad day, or indeed week, or year (this is the most confusing, to be honest- all 365 days in 2018 were bad?!), but now, it has made me even more careful. My children are listening…