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Of city children out of touch with reality

Of city children out of touch with reality

While today’s city child is much more enlightened than we were at their age, they are frighteningly ignorant about some things.

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A few weeks ago, to avoid the Christmas rush, a friend decided to visit relatives upcountry.

The last time she was there, her four-year-old son was only one, and hadn’t started walking yet, so she figured that this time round, the adventurous boy would get to appreciate the laid-back environment of shags.

The people at home happily welcomed them, and since this friend had made her visit known, they found a feast laid out for them in one of her uncles’ home. As they enjoyed the meal, her son told her that he needed to go to the toilet.

Just as they stepped out of the house, the little boy innocently asked her mother, “Mummy, hii ni nyumba ya ng’ombe?” He wanted to know whether the uncle’s house was a cowshed.

His mother almost fainted with shock, worried that their hosts may have overheard the question.

Embarrassing question

You see, this friend’s neighbour keeps cows, and her son, like most children his age, is fascinated with animals, and often visits the elderly neighbour’s home to gaze at the cows, which are kept in a shed made of timber.

It is at that moment that it occurred to this friend that having been born and raised in the city, save for that one time he’d visited upcountry, (and it doesn’t count because he was too young then) he’d never seen a timber house and, therefore, assumed that all houses were built with stone.

Thankful that her son had asked this potentially embarrassing question out of earshot, she pulled him further away from the house and patiently explained that not all people lived in houses built of stone.

She also made a mental note to ensure that her son, (and any other children she’d have in future) visited upcountry more often, to get exposed to more than malls and flushable toilets.

Sticking to the subject of cows, do you know that most kindergarten children (at least those in children’s school) think that milk comes from the supermarket? I learnt this when I visited the school some time ago to check on their progress. In a class of about 25 children, only my son knew that milk comes from a cow – one of his grandmothers keeps a few, and has let him ‘milk’ on several occasions.

Frighteningly ignorant

If this is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised that the only chicken some children have ever laid their eyes on is the cooked one their mother serves them at home, or the one from KFC.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you dig a pit latrine in your backyard or lawn, and force your children to use it occasionally in the name of acquainting them with reality, but surely, shouldn’t our children know what the source of the meat, or eggs they eat every day looks like? Or that there are more sources of fire besides your gas or electrical cooker?

For what purpose? You may ask, after all, timber houses and pit latrines are not their reality, furthermore, what are their future chances of having to light up a fire to prepare a meal? To this I ask, “Why not?”

While today’s city child is much more enlightened than we were at their age, thanks to technology, the fact is that they are frighteningly ignorant about some things.

Some may argue that these things are negligible, and, therefore, not worth knowing, but from where I sit, it never hurts to know as much as you can.

The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: ke.nationmedia.com