The following phone conversation ensued between me and my 10-year old niece (who’s in boarding school) a few weeks ago:
After the pleasantries and establishing that she’s fine and doing well in school…
Niece: Auntie Lolade
Niece: I want you to write an article about me
Me: 🤔 Really? What do you want me to write about you?
Niece: I don’t know…you’re the writer, you should know
As you would guess, with children there’s no letting up when it comes to getting what they want. She has reminded of her wish since that first request and insists that she looks forward to reading something from me about her.
I did some thinking on how to pull off the little one’s assignment; while I have only done a few generic posts on children, none was about a specific child. However, it was Children’s Day two days ago and I figured it presented the right opportunity for me to make my niece’s wish come to pass.
I love children; I wouldn’t say I have a crazy, over-the-top love for kids like those who absolutely have to carry every baby they come across or are comfortable spending every waking day taking care of children, but I am in love with my nieces and nephew. They have given me the perfect glimpse into what motherhood would be like, especially my first niece and the family’s first grandchild, Kikinitioluwa. I named her Odunayo, loosely translated to mean “Year of Joy” because she was born three days into the new year and I often call her by this name.
Over the past 10 years, I have learnt a lot from Kiki, chief of which is the child-like disposition the Bible urges adults to adopt if they must see the kingdom of God. In her younger days, she used to spend quite a bit of time with us, and one of our personal bonding moments that makes me smile till this day is how she would wait up for me until I got back from work, no matter how late it was.
During a particular season, I used to get off work really late on Fridays. I would be exhausted and dreaming of hitting the sack as soon as I got home. I would even pray she was asleep because I didn’t want to have to answer all the numerous questions a precocious four-year-old kid had the uncanny ability to think up.
And so I would let myself in as quietly as I could, slide through the door and tiptoe inside looking left and right just in case she had fallen asleep in the living room and had yet to be carried inside.
“Auntie Lolade!”, the shriek and the broadest smile would stop me in my tracks.
Kiki would have that satisfying “Mission accomplished, I-swore-I-wouldn’t-fall-asleep-before-she came-and-I-did-it” expression plastered on her face, leaving me with no choice than to scoop her up and give her a warm hug.
At that moment, even though I was bone tired, a smile would immediately find its way onto my lips and I would say a little prayer for this kid who cared enough to stay awake so late in the night keeping vigil for me while the rest of the household was snoring away.
I remember vividly because I used to wait up for my dad the same way many years ago. If I brought a snack from the office or some fish and chips as I often did then, we would enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company while we ate them.
Kiki and I also bonded over a few other activities we shared in common. The picture above was taken on one of the many Sundays we attended church together. My lovely niece loves to dance and watch TV just like her auntie and many times, it only took a few replays of a trending song before we began to perform a duet to it.
Today, she’s 10. Got into secondary school at age nine, but not without encountering the teething challenges that a sheltered child who suddenly found themselves in a new environment far away from home was bound to face.
Each time we called, she would share her frustrations about her new life. She wanted to go home. She missed her brother and nieces. She did not understand why she had to away from everyone she cared about, after all, there’s the option of being a day student.
A couple of weeks ago however, the narrative changed. As soon as she got on the phone with me, she blurted,
“Auntie Lolade, I am now enjoying school.”
At first, I thought I must have heard wrongly until she repeated herself and assured me she was now in a good place and doing well in school.
From a state of being unsure of the status of her relationship with fellow schoolmates, she now has an appreciable level of camaraderie with them.
What’s more, for a student who only joined the school in the middle of the first term, she’s caught up and is doing remarkably well in every aspect of her education.
Needless to say, I am stoked at the possibilities that lie in wait for her as she gets older and hopefully fulfils her dream of becoming a surgeon.
Happy Children’s Day, Kiks and every other child across the world.
P.S: Mandate delivered. Don’t you wish your kids had an aunt like me?