THE CHILDREN AND THE SONS
By Lucky Onyema Egede
Yes, there is no confusion here. There are children and there are sons. The subject of discipline can be treated by categorizing humans in our society into two broad spectra of children and sons. It was Prophet Isaiah in one of his very famous prophecies that said “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder……… And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Literally speaking, every male child is called son but in the deeper sense of the word, son is more than just being a male and child is not a function of age. Without meaning any harm, I have seen lots of children aged between 20 and 100 years in the Nigerian society. A child is born through the process of separating a matured foetus usually at nine months from the mother either by the normal delivery process or aided through a caesarian section. In a normal society, most children quickly transit from children to sons through the process of maturity, learning, experiences of life, exercise of discretion and appropriate application of the senses. There are many who live and die as children and never get to grow up other than adding some weight and becoming bigger children. It follows that, just as child has nothing to do with age, son has nothing to do with gender in this parlance.
In Isaiah’s prophecy, we find that a child is born but a son is given. The government shall be upon the shoulder of the son not the child. Solomon said, “woe to you, o land when your king is a child”. There are many reasons why governance cannot be placed on the shoulder of children of any age. You must be a son to understand governance. Governance demands responsibility, it is not wise to expect it from children.
A child is born. He is an offspring of a couple. He is helpless and not capable of self-governance and not self-sustaining. He is dependent on people for literally everything. As an infant child, he is not even in a position to stand or sit without help until a certain age. When the infant child grows to adult child that has refused to transit from child to son, you find a big-bodied personality that carries on with all the attributes of a child.
How else will you explain a big-bodied personality fainting on the playground, because we demanded to know what happened to the money, we asked him to keep? The child recovers afterwards, and nothing is heard of that matter. All the children have moved on and never asked for their money again. Children do not remember the fight of yesterday. They are back to the playground and life goes on. How else will you explain a tall and fat man who is showing the whole world on social media, that he has over 100 pairs of designer shoes and over 200 wristwatches? These are the children of Nigeria enthroned as kings.
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The child must be protected like running to Egypt when there is threat to his life. The child need not be aware of a pending attack. It is enough that the parents or his care givers are aware. The parents also knew when to return to homeland when the threat was over. It was not the business of the child. When the child transits from child to son, we see a person willingly taking on responsibility and putting up with lots of self-sacrifice. “my food is to do the work of my father and to finish it” says the son. “I have food to eat which you do not know. Doing the will of my father is my food”. “I must do the work of my father when it is day before the night comes when no man can work”. All these are statement of the son at various times. When others testify of the son, it was said that he went about doing good. Sons look out for the challenges in the society and take it upon themselves to solve it.
There are many good qualities of infant children like creativity, curiosity, honesty, resilience and so on. These qualities will not be treated in this treatise as we actually want to look at those traits we find in adult children and people who have grown in age and body size but have refused to transit into sons.
One resounding quality of children is selfishness. The child is only concerned about his needs. He has no regard for the environment and does not care where the bin is. He eats his biscuits and leaves the wrapper on the floor or desk or just anywhere. No sense of decency or tidiness. He draws attention to his needs, cries and shouts to obtain. Until he gets what he wants, he is ready to disturb the peace of everyone around. He cries when he is hungry, when he is wet, when he needs to sleep. Until his needs are met, nobody in the house is at peace.
A child is often not aware of the implication of his action or choices. He is governed by what is convenient and not what is demanded. A sense of responsibility imposes lots of inconvenience on sons which they willingly take on but that is not expected of children of any age. Children enthroned as kings in the land put up all of these qualities of children. The position is used to acquire all manner of toys and to draw attention to self. If energy transformer is purchased at a cost of N3,000,000.00 (three million naira) only, the child spends N30,000,000.00 (thirty million naira) only to call friends and celebrate the purchase of the asset all aimed at drawing attention to self and attracting accolades.
It is not uncommon in our clime to see these children empty their waste bin in the drainage and complain of flooding. They are so blinded by their pursuit of personal comfort that they do not know the consequences of their actions or choices. Children cheat in examinations to get certificates without knowledge. They display their toys to get satisfaction from being envied by those who do not have. A child with lots of toys will still crave for more. He gets houses, shoes, watches from our commonwealth and flaunts it with no fear of prosecution.
I recall a scenario in my days of living with my brother as a young graduate. We went to church on a Sunday morning. After the church service, there were people selling ice cream on their bicycles and I approached one of them and bought Ice cream for my young nephew. As he relished the ice cream, I pleaded with him and said may I have a little of your ice cream and he instantly without thinking said ‘no way’. I persuaded this infant child to give me a little of his ice cream, but every entreaty met brick wall. I resorted to threat and said, ‘if you will not give me a little from your ice cream, I won’t buy ice cream for you in the future’ and he replied, ‘don’t buy.’ This may sound funny, but he only established that he was a child. He has now transited from child to son and if I tell the same person to buy me a ticket today to visit United Kingdom, I am sure he will gladly do it.
When the child is hungry, he is not bothered about the economy and what it takes to provide the good things of life. Dad, I need a car and mom buy an airplane for me. I am entitled because I am your child. This is what you find in our society that has raised too many adult children and few sons. The sons will look at their father and recall that he has needs. The children only remember that they have a father when there is something to collect. How do you relate to this nation called Nigeria? Are you a son or a child of Nigeria?
No sense of responsibility. A child does not think of what he will do for anybody. He is only concerned about what people will do for him. When he perceives rightly or wrongly that it is his turn on the playground, he shouts it to deafen everyone around. ‘It is my turn’; he generates riot and will destroy everything on his trail to draw attention to the fact that he ought to be the one in the field of play. Will a child allow a better player to represent us? A child does not understand justice, equity, or fairness. He fights to obtain so as to spend on his vanity. When we put our best forward, we all win and when we are represented by the worst of us, we all lose except that the child has no understanding of lose or shame. With all the talents in Nigeria, we were not qualified to play in the world cup because children will only make choices based on sentiments. Sons are governed by reasoning, an understanding of purpose and a visionary appreciation of an end.
This refusal to grow up has affected every aspect of our society. Children do not care about common good. In the field of play, a child that is asked to look for players must field his younger brother whether he knows how to play or not and this is how we have populated our security outfits with children and we cry insecurity. Children can’t see the biggest vessel in the world coming in to take away crude oil in our territory. We do not feature in world cup because we leave out the best of us when we need to choose players to represent us. Taking responsibility for others or the environment is not in the character of a child. It takes sons to build a society. If you can’t afford television, your child will go and look for other parents that have television and you will beg and cry for the child to return home to no avail. He is comfortable watching the television anywhere. This has been labelled the “japa syndrome” in our society. It is not in the character of a child to know that every house is built by someone.
In a nation populated largely by children, decisions are not driven by any vision or sense of responsibility. In 2019 for example, there was a general election to produce president for over two hundred million people. We had 82,344,107 registered voters by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) statistics. Only 34.75% of that number turned out to choose a president. It was not convenient for a whole lot of people. Some others did not see any need to have a voter’s card because it is convenient to tell yourself that results have been written in advance. 15,191,847 voters gave us president of Nigeria. Over 200,000,000 people suffer the consequences. Can Nigeria raise sons? I dare to say that anyone of any age who has no voters card is a child by all standards.
It is more convenient for a Nigerian child to relocate to United States of America where in a presidential election, a candidate that scored 74,223,975 votes lost election to a candidate that polled 81,283,501 votes in a popular election than to get his voter’s card and chose leaders in his own country. It is not in the character of a child to ask if Americans sat down on election day unperturbed on who becomes their president, will it have become a country you would like to seek citizenship? America was created like Nigeria populated by humans like us but while they make deliberate choice for the growth and development of their country, we make deliberate choice of leaving leadership to charlatans.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. It is natural for the child to take foolish steps. No one teaches a child how to get lost in the crowd. He will naturally walk away from parents to join strangers on the playground and will not be in a position to trace his way back.
If you don’t want your child to get lost or even die, you teach him to always hold mom or dad’s hand in the crowd and watch left and right before crossing the road. The child does not know the implication of not watching just as the enthroned child does not know why he is on the throne. At ninety, he can travel to another part of the world to ask if there are people in the hall and who they are and what he is expected to do. Woe to the land whose king is a child. It is foolish to expect a child to take responsibility. Until you take a responsibility, you remain a liability. In a society populated largely by children, so much fallow grounds are left uncultivated while there is so much hunger in the land.
Children enjoy vengeance. Sons are given to forgiveness. It is not uncommon to see the children on our playground chanting “pepper them o, pepper them o”. “As e dey pain them, e go dey sweet us”. Sons have no regard for vengeful actions. They don’t waste time on it for no good thing comes out of the pursuit of vengeance. Forgiveness is the language of sons. Forgiveness brings peace of mind and clears the intellect for a way forward. Pursuit of vengeance retards the growth and progress of a people.
Discipline is what really spells the difference between the children and the sons. It is a gift everyone must give to himself. Discipline in this sense is the ability to develop a set of self-governing rules and setting of standards of behavior with an end in mind. A disciplined person does not just create desires, he has a road map for the attainment of goals. He creates a program of activities that will generate the desired result if followed step by step and he puts up with necessary inconvenience in the pursuit of his steps to obtain the delivery of his desire.
A child on the other hand is governed by what is convenient. He lives like water which must always look for the easiest way out.
Let us grow up and transit from children to sons.
Lucky Onyema Egede is a legal practitioner. He lives in Lagos.