By: Andy Akporugo Jr
RECLAIMING THE VALUE OF ACCIDENTAL FATHERHOOD
There was a time in Nigeria when watching football on television was a home sport; when men pursued work elsewhere but lived life at home. It was a time at which fathers struggled for siesta under the same roof and at the same time that their wards did their homework with looks plaintiff for assistance. A time when visiting friends engaged fathers in robust debates at home on diverse matters, to the kindness of excited kitchens and fridges that yielded their content to the fancy of preferences or the limitation of pockets!
It was a time that fathers expressed their vanities under the measure of the realization that their footsteps were being witnessed by their children, even if only in pretentious glances or upon toddling unannounced steps unto their presence. It was a time when we learnt culture, history, politics, well behavior, good sense and pride from the quiet, deliberate observation of our fathers as we stood by to run errands. A time when children were not necessarily shaped by some organized dispensation by which they were made to sit, pen and paper in hand, and listen to the conscious impartation of the responsibility of fatherhood, but were mentored by the frequent stumbling on parents minding their business within view. It was a time when fathers ensured through repetition and action that mothers knew that someone outside them, was insisting that they had the final authority in the home, the final responsibility for the development of the child. It was a time when living rooms offered more comfort and aesthetic arrogance than the beer parlous down the road.
Then came now, and with it a litany of well-appointed bars dotted with all forms of seductions and introducing new menus. Silky football is now served with ice-cold beer and pepper soup, along with the welcome distraction of solicitous heels. Young fathers who love to undo their ties before getting home, have also introduced noisy business networking into sundry cocktails in a manner that makes one staggering out of a pub feel as vindicated as any businessman sauntering out of successful meeting at a board room. Lines are now blurred and logic has become too tired to interrogate itself. And so there is great entertainment in arguing noisily while watching football on television, with bewildered screens silently witnessing a boisterousness that only makes them the excuse rather than reason for gathering.
In this and similar settings which by their content, exclude the children and family, more adult and even foreign friendships are struck which for the reason of not being sourced from an ambience of family, would grow very well outside the nourishment of their participation. And so at end, we work far from home and relax even farther; away from the accidental observation of our children to whom we owe grooming, even if we leave for a moment the very dangerous likelihood of creating perhaps by default, separate even conflicting tribes of loved ones – a family which does not know our friends and friends who likely hold no mattering for our family.
In the retiring week, I have been forced to live at home by the demands of a stomach that refuses to hold anything, and I am witnessing life, the life of my own family being lived to its full in a manner that seems to make my contribution now and again, appear only as an interruption. And I am realizing that, after all pretenses to providing adequate grooming by the sheer haste by which my pocket flattens, I have truly been largely by-standing on living itself. I am wondering how much of my daughter’s knowledge and character I can claim to have been obtained from emulating me, whether by means of organized tutoring or fortuitous grooming by the sheer power of my presence at home. And I am deciding that I shall not be satisfied by being a beautiful tale to her anymore. I shall be an experience, as indeed was my father before me. Simply, ‘‘I am taking it back’’.
And why not! I have just had my own Town Hall meeting.