Don’t Mess with the Mother


Mango and its cross section

My friend and I were walking down the street from the barbershop when he decided he was in the mood for a mango. (They were in season just then.) We stopped at the first fruit seller’s we came to. She got up from her stool, leaving a girl (she looked about 15) to watch over her stool.

While my friend haggled with the seller over the price for his mangoes, I busied myself with my phone (he can haggle for an extra discount of 5 naira, and I wasn’t in the mood that day). Then he asked the woman (by way of diversion more than anything else, I think) why she left her daughter with the stool, when she should have been selling in her place, and joked that she would, in certain other climes, be getting married off by her age.

The woman responded without batting an eyelid. “She is not going to marry until she finishes school.” Her tone was flat, final. My friend and I laughed, he paid for his mangoes and we left…

But, you know, I’m actually convinced that girl’s going to finish school before she gets married (or pregnant). I’m convinced because her mother said so, and because I’ve had the opportunity to know how far a determined mother can go to get what she wants for her kids.

Even if their father is nowhere to be found.

Are you a mother? Please don’t underestimate the influence you have with your kids. Are you a father? Please don’t be absent when it matters. And it always matters.

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