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COMMENT: Parenting challenges

Wekesa with the motorcross boys – Wekesa Junior, Fortune Ssetamu and Fatur Kiggunda

COMMENT | By Amos Wekesa Recently out of curiosity, my son asks me why I fly economy class when I travel with him, his brother and sister. I realized that children need a lot more explanation about why we do certain things.

I tell my son, I make sure I don’t fly business four hours and less and only fly business if am traveling long distance where I arrive and immediately go for meetings and they must be meetings that can bring returns.

When I fly business, it’s purely for getting better rest through good sleep so that I pay attention during those meetings. Those meetings are tough and tiring.

“But what makes you think you should fly business when travelling with dad?” I ask.

“I just want to know how people are treated in business” my son says.

“That curiosity should inspire you to work hard enough to afford that experience,” I tell him. “My responsibility is to make sure you get your basics (not luxuries) and you will owe your children same in future. For extras, I make you work for them but in future( 18yrs and above) you will work full time for both basics basics and extras, you will thank me then.”

That discussion reminded me of an encounter I had about 3 years ago while traveling to Europe. I flew economy class with a child of someone who has been connected or worked with government for along time while his parent was in business class. On arriving, Amsterdam the child (actually a man 25 yrs old) started shouting at his parent( mother) “why did you fly me economy class?”

“I have flown business class all my life” and the child/ man didn’t care who was listening. Mothers head faced down and I decided to intervene.

“Young man, you should have respect for your mother and not shout at her and worse in front of people. At 25 years, your mother and father shouldnt be paying for even a taxi fare for you and I guess they sent you to Europe for first class education. What was your education for?” I ask.

Young man listened partly because he knew me, according to the mother, and he had seen me in economy class. Mother says, “we made mistakes with our children, we gave them everything they wanted not needed. Needs are different from wants because we thought our children shouldn’t suffer like we did while growing up.” Big mistake!!

My wife and I explain to our children why we do things the way do them. Children have high learning abilities which parents tend to underestimate. My children know I have to forego lots of stuff for certain things to happen. We avoid luxuries and look for good deals even when I work hard and fairly well paid.

We respect ( not worship) what we have, our old cars are well maintained, you don’t find me hanging out and spending fwaa…..

Being here for motocross is foregoing certain things our my part and yes, it’s part of the education he is getting ( learning to fight during competition, accepting being defeated during competition, respecting those better than him not being angry about them). Fighting to control a dangerous machine purely part of life.

( In the picture above, the boys swimming this morning as they get ready for competition tomorrow. Wekesa is in Nairobi together with Ugandan team riders – Wekesa Junior, Fortune Ssetamu and Fatur Kiggunda –  for the East African motocross championship. Uganda is leading (1400 points) and Kenya just over 400 points. 35 Ugandan riders are heading to Kenya).

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