Al Kags

#OdeToYouth Lesson 14: Be Present in your life today, don’t let go of your youth too fast


In the course of my journey, in which I reflect on my adult life, these past 18 years or so, I open up my blog to my friends, who also share their #OdeToYouth. Today, my friend Lilian Okado, reminds us to be present.

lilokadoBy Lilian Okado

The other day I recorded my 18 month old toddler seemingly protesting against her set nap time. As a rule, she has to nap every day once a day for at least an hour or two, any time between 11 and 2pm. I brought her into this world after the man upstairs gave me the green light, so yes I make the rules. We recently had one such day. When nap time was upon her, when she decided she wasn’t ready and wasn’t having any of that; thus her little protest.

You can tell she was quite adamant about it. Certainly as the gods have whispered to me, it won’t be long before she will be articulating intelligent reasons why naps are for losers and how extended play is greatly beneficial to her growth and self worth. I can’t wait for our debates. Notwithstanding her tirade, I am the only adult around the Okado villa, and she therefore grudgingly had to give in.

It’s still hilarious watching reruns of her protests. In hindsight, its also a bit scary to know that my little princess is coming of age and a run for my money is imminent. Not only will I have to bear open and
perhaps even outright passive aggressive rebellion, but I may have to seriously sharpen my thrashing skills. Our children of today are way more intelligent than we could ever have been at their age. I pray for heightened parenting skills to weather all upcoming storms.

Sigh.. Isn’t it just the other that day she was a dot on some ultrasound screen and today she’s busy giving me toddler lip about a necessary requirement for her growth and development? Her protests got me thinking. Actually, I was whisked back to my more youthful days, when my skin was fresh and taut, my body ‘killing it,’ my blank tabula rasa open to taking in the world; and all I wanted to do then all the time, was grow up. We’ve all been there.

I remember when I was in nursery school at St. Michaels in Langata, all I wished for was get to class one. Like Missy, I could not stand the forced afternoon nap times when I’d have to share a mattress with some kid with a loose bladder. In lower primary, when I maintained my adamance (as I expect Missy will continue to) about sleep and would find myself transported to bed anyway, often in protest because I was fallibg asleep in front of the TV, trying to keep up with Dallas and Remington Steele.

I look back to upper primary, where I attended this really posh school with really hot looking boys. As the hormonal shy teen I was, yearned to get to class 8 hopeful that by that time my scrawny boyish figure –
that I still don today????  –  would have developed enough for pretty boy ‘Steve’ to look at me the same way he looked at my best friend J, who’d ‘ripened’ way too fast for some of the hungry youths to cope.

Fast forward to my high school days, laced with cold and dreary days characteristic of Limuru weather. It was tough being away from home at the beginning, with emotional and psychological bullies marking the
school’s pavements like they owned it. Every weekend on visiting day, for the entire first term, I would lurk around the car park wistfully hoping that my folks would turn up to visit, even though I knew they wouldn’t, because they could ever only manage one visit a month.

Then I got to campus. As you’d imagine, I loved being a way from home, all grown up and ready for life. I really did. It was wonderful, for a time, not having to answer to any other adult, but myself. Yet
somehow soon even this freedom wasn’t enough and I was soon dreaming of life after campus. My first job. Leaving home and starting a whole new adult life in a whole new world, ways away from nagging and entitled adults. And before I knew it, I was 27, exuding confidence, smarts and sexiness and I finally moved out of home.

My first night in my one bedroom apartment in the leafy Westlands surburb was really quiet. I didn’t throw a warming party. I should have. I wonder if I shouldn’t have maybe even invited friends over for an orgy or some debaucherous party. But I couldn’t afford it. I’d spent to much just moving house. I told myself I eventually would, to celebrate the very important milestone, but it never happened. My new found status had thrown me into a world of uncertainty. Although I was gainfully unemployed and a budding entrepreneur, I soon discovered that a sheltered and unfettered life back at mum’s that sometimes came with many limitations (being home early, reporting on the day’s activities and future plans or inability to just walk naked all day whenever I got the feeling) wasn’t such a bad deal after all.

It is then that reality sunk in. I was finally a fully fledged adult. Thus real life began. Like I’d always wanted, I was finally all grown up.

My toddler ranting over nap time reminded me of man’s persistent, innate desire to have more, be more. This desire isn’t bad. In fact if properly nurtured can bring much beauty to the world. However, this same desire sometimes will cause us to forget to breathe and LIVE OUR PRESENT LIFE. When I look back at my youth, I am reminded that I could have breathed and lived a little more. Life is not just about moving from one pit stop to another. It’s not just about pursing our goals and dreams. It’s not just about growing up. It is also about being still and enjoying each and every single moment in the present, good or bad.

I see myself in my daughter. I wish I could attribute her uncanny traits, brilliance or her already budding independence to her father, God bless the rascal wherever he may be, but she is all me 100%. (Believing it to be so makes me sleep at night????). And it is my mission now to not only to raise her to be fierce and equally independent, but guide and remind her in an language she understands to from time to time slow down and smell the roses. To help her remember to slow her roll towards ‘adulthood’, and appreciate that every single milestone guiding her along her life journey is as important as the next. For soon enough like me, she will be with her own child, looking back at how fast ‘youth’ had passed her by.

Lesson 14: Be present in your life today.

Even as you focus on your goals going forward, as you ache for freedom, for independence and wealth, remember to fully experience your life today. Remember to be present at your stage of life – be twenty, if thats who you are. Soon enough, you will be thirty and hopefully, you will look back with pride at your youth.

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