Dear Teachers, Teach Life Too…

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The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams are here with us and soon, men will be separated from the boys. In the next few weeks, we will know who the smart ones are, and the not-so-smart – at least that is what the exam results are meant to make us believe.

Most of the people we see walking around were all manufactured in the school laboratory. Or at least their brains were. And so we gauge the smartness and dumbness of a person depending on what they attained in school. And that is where our problems begin.

Remember the story of the young man who got himself killed by his cougar after she apparently caught him with another cougar. Having attended one of the best national schools around here and gotten straight A’s, he was among the smartest in our country.

I don’t what is more distasteful in this story. The fact that he got himself killed in extremely foolish circumstances or the fact that he was smart. Really smart. Or was he? He may have attained straight A’s in his KCSE exam but to me and many others who watched and read the story with anger, he was as foolish as they came.

More than teaching chemistry and physics, teachers have such a great role in shaping the lives of these students. My husband tells me that his chemistry teacher used to end his lessons with a little bit of ‘Life Chemistry’. He always reminded them that it would make no sense to pass with flying colors yet fail miserably in life. And no, the failure has nothing to do with money.

I wish young people would stop blaming hormones for all their misbehavior. True, at that time the hormones are raging mad and most of the teenagers do not understand half of what is going on in their bodies, but I don’t remember being taught in a biology class that hormones obstruct reasonability and sensibility.  Were you?

So having a teenager sleep with multiple partners has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with being out-rightly foolish. Whether they got straight A’s in school or not. And the foolishness is aggravated by the fact that these multiple partners are way older than him and despite numerous warning from his father, he still chose the wayward path.

I think it’s time that schools started appreciating good behavior in school as much as they appreciate good grades. Maybe there should be medals for the cleanest student, most polite student, most best behaved student, the best time keeper (that would have encouraged yours truly to do better)…

Maybe we need to teach them life chemistry as much as we strive to teach them all these other subjects. That way, we will not have students who are book smart and complete idiots when it comes to life. That way, even our universities will be a safer place to learn.

And talking of universities, these are the places where the crème de la crème in academics are. But some of the things we see and hear happening there cast serious doubt on the diligence of the smartest people in our republic.

My high school taught us responsibility. Materi Girls Center was the place that almost had no rule book. You knew the rules by heart. We did not even have to attend morning preps or wear socks. Yet every morning, the classes were full and students were always spick and span. We did not have a talk-to-boys-and-you-will-go-to-Hague poster hanged on our classroom doors. We were free to mingle and that demystified the whole boys ‘thing’. We knew where the buck stops; with us.

And so teachers, since the students spend more time with you than with their parents, it would help a great deal if you incorporated some life chemistry in the labs. And we will cross our fingers and hope they will listen to you.

Marriage: A Prison For The Free

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Today, I went to buy a movie. When the movie guy saw my gold bling :), he couldn’t help but wonder how we dare get into this ‘thing’ that is so impossible. I mean, with all the ‘discomfort and headache’ involved, how do we cope?

He sounded funny. He reminded me of one guy who asked why anyone in his/her right mind would dare enter into anything called an institution willingly.

Before I got married, I had quite a number of friends who were excited about the whole thing. They encouraged me and made me know that indeed, this was a great road to take.

And then there were a few who wondered what had gotten into me! According to them, I must have been smoking something cheap and I needed to stop before the wedding and marriage madness went too far.

I actually never took them seriously and I never gave it too much thought until this movie guy spent half an hour telling me how impossible marriage is. Well,that is unless you are married to a Meru girl-according to this marriage phobic movie seller :).

So, I walked home thinking. Why are so many people afraid of marriage? Is it bitter past, real facts or just old-wives’ tales that make people fear marriage to the point of dismissing it as impossible?

One of my clients at work even gave me his personal number and ‘offered’ to be my fall back in case Kamana and I don’t work out. His marriage had failed miserably and he was very sure I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

After thinking really had, I realized that they were right for thinking that marriage is hard work. It’s like I’ve said before; marriage is not for boys and girls. It’s for men and women.

Men and women who know that marriage is about sacrifice, forgiveness and hardwork. It’s the place where 1+1=1. It’s the place of less ‘me’ and more ‘we’. It’s the one place where your character is tested to the limit and your patience tried up to death. Literary.

Your patience is tried because you keep expecting the other person to change and be more like you, and they don’t. The women get into marriage expecting the men to change, and they don’t. The men get into marriage expecting the women NOT to change. And they do. It can be quite confusing.

And it’s also the place you learn selflessness, service and tolerance. It’s the place where your deepest need for a companion are met and it’s the place where you can be happiest.

The Swahili made it worse by calling it ‘pingu za maisha’ which literary means Handcuffed for Life. This is one place where it’s not always about you and you cannot and should not be having your way all the time. Here, You do not belong to yourself, even your own body is not yours. If you doubt me, go and read 1 Corinthians 7:4.

This is one place where love is best expressed and you can only love best if you are tapping from the best source-God. Marriage is the one institution God chose to reflect how He loves us. To reflect how He wants to relate to us. Marriage is the reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church. If we do it His way, it is POSSIBLE.

IMG_0093  I must say, this is one good prison, a prison for the free.

Too Old To Dream?

There is one question i’m certain each one of us has answered in this life. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Oh, when I think of the many things I wanted to be, I’m moved to tears. I keep asking, what happened to me? Where did that girl go? I mean, I was one ambitious girl. What else can you say of one girl who wanted to be a lawyer, a nurse, a gynaecologist, a writer and a journalist all in one lifetime?

But out of all those ambitions, one stuck. And that is writing. That explains the blog post :). But I keep hearing people all around me talk of things they hoped to BE when they grew up but they all ended up DOING different things.

Now, here is the catch. What you want to BE, you can still BE. As someone rightly pointed out, you are a human being, not a human doing. So, as much as you may be doing one thing, you can still be what you wanted to be.

I know you are probably shaking your head in disagreement, but that is what the society has taught us today. People are glorified for attaining their ‘dreams’ when they are still very young. While there is every thing praise worthy about attaining your dreams while still young, what happens, pray tell me, to those of us who are still dreaming, years after we answered the dreamer’s question?

So I have been thinking. Many times, I feel like a clay pot, half finished, still wet, still waiting for the master to finish the last details. The interesting thing is, I actually am that pot. I just don’t know what the master is up to.

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So I will encourage all of you who seem to be living beyond the ‘when I grow up’ phase but still feel like they are still growing up. Still hoping, still wishing, still dreaming. Like me.

You can still BE. Go back to school if you have to, read motivational books, study the Bible over and over again, start a blog like yours truly ;), but in all you do, don’t stop dreaming. You are never too old to dream. Let’s dream on!

What was your dream?