It’s that period of the year when ajebota kids go to exotic places, ajepako kids get reunited with their grandparents and regular parents look for places to dump their troublesome kids for a few hours in the day and pick them up when the day is gone. Folks, the summer holiday is here.
I’ll forgive you if it’s difficult for you to resist slapping any Nigerian who refers to this period as the summer holidays. No! This is nothing like summer. The rain falls with the predictability of Nigeria’s electricity, everything is wet, and our noses are runny. This is the long holiday or the long vacation or the long vac, and it falls in the middle of the rainy season.
If we were American (and many of us Nigerians wish we were) this would have been the time for us to make a nuisance of ourselves on beaches around the world. We would be loitering on foreign soil dressed in next to nothing or sunbathing with a large hat covering our heads and a thick book in our hands. But no one sunbaths in Nigeria, we have enough of the sun every day.
In honour of this generally western (and American by cliché) time of the year, a lot of websites and blogs have come up with summer reading lists. For a moment, I was tempted join the fad, then I remembered vacations are alien to us. We will rather get paid to work through our annual leave than spend it in Copacabana watching the World Cup. I also thought of creating a reading list for kids. My friends are getting married and having kids and I’m trying to stay ahead of the parental-advisory-committee curve.
Growing up, my father used to buy a few books at the start of every holiday. It used to be Children’s fiction, or abridged versions of literary classics, except the time I started the holiday with a reading of the book of proverbs. I also attended music workshops, and while I can’t say I play any musical instrument with confidence, I can interpret musical notation with ease. That has to count for something.
Today, the average child knows the holiday is not the time to fool around. Somewhere between the late nineties and the dawn of the new millennium, some very smart people decided to start summer schools. Forgive me if they started before that time; I had no idea. Before that period, I wasn’t aware of that crime against humanity. Holidays stopped being the time to fool around and be kids, and became the time to work on subjects failed in the past year and be prepared for the next school session.
With the exception of the few that go to Vacation Bible Schools and those who have parents who can afford to send them around the world, holidays for a lot of Nigerian kids is just school-in-mufti. There is no reasonable explanation for this—none. I wish more parents will do some research and discover they are not helping their children by making them school in perpetuity. The holidays are supposed to be fun. Allow you children to go out. Let them have a life outside of school. Let them attend summer camps (Nigerian organizers still insist on calling them that), music workshops and, above all, buy them books. Introduce them to the wonders of literature and music and martial arts and anything apart from their school work. Let’s stop this trend of raising super-kids with empathy shaped holes at the centre of their beings.
Don’t take my word for it. Do your research. Surf the web for ideas. Walk around your locality and find fun places to take your kids to. Do this now, before you pause and realise you’re about to heed the parental advice of someone who has never raised a child.