Being Like a Child Again
A True Story
on Nov 6, 2021
Here in Kenya, we have what we call KCPE exams that are taken at the end of primary school education. Each year, thousands of primary school children sit for the KCPE exams. Some adults do also take the exams, including prisoners. And you know what? In the long history of KCPE exams, I have never heard of any adult emerging tops. It is only thirteen- and fourteen-year old kids who have been topping the charts in KCPE results that are released with much fanfare.
I have been thinking that the reason why adults don't excel in KCPE exams is due to the responsibilities they have of caring for their families and the guilt, hate, worry and jealousy they grapple with. There is no way you can expect adults with such emotional baggage to beat thirteen- and fourteen-year old kids whose young minds are free from negative emotions and who have everything provided for them by their parents.
Let's be honest: it's fun being a child. As the best-selling author Paulo Coelho observed, children are often happy for no reason; they are always busy with something; and they have that drive to ask for what they want with all their might.
Well, I didn't have a blissful childhood when I was growing up in the '90s. I was sometimes criticized and punished for minor wrong-doings. At other times, I would be subjected to such boring menial tasks as collecting firewood, cooking meals in a sooty kitchen and carrying heavy luggage. I vividly recall one afternoon in 1994 or 1995 when I was delivering a load to our home, a policeman instructed someone to help me carry the load because he thought it was too heavy for a boy of my age.
Although my childhood wasn't blissful, it wasn't that bad either. I was brought up in a stable home where I had everything provided for me. At no one time did I ever hear my parents quarrel with each other. If my parents ever had any differences between them, and I suppose they did, then they did a good job at resolving them without me realizing it.
As a child, I never worried about what I would eat or wear next because I was confident my hard-working parents would meet my needs. All that was demanded of me was to study diligently and excel in exams at school. And studying diligently, I did. Thanks to my diligence, I performed fairly well in my exams at school. How fortunate I was!
But the best part of being a child that I miss most was the freedom I had: freedom from hate, guilt, jealousy and fear of what could happen in the future. I can't recall ever feeling guilty over something wrong I had done, or fearing that something could go possibly wrong in the days to come. And even though I was sometimes treated unfairly and taken advantage of, I never struggled with hate. I was as quick to forgive as God.
It is not until I became an adult that I began grappling with such negative emotions as hate, guilt, worry and jealousy. I still struggle with those negative emotions to this day. And from those struggles, I have realized how we adults have a hard time letting go of hate and guilt. We tend to cling to bitterness and insecurities like a shadow.
I am now craving to be like a child again. To be full of happiness and positive thoughts; to not worry about the future; and to be free from hate, guilt and jealousy. I have therefore resolved to re-awaken the child in me by being playful and prayerful. After all, why should I not be like a kid again? Am I not a child of the Almighty God who loves me more than my parents ever did when I was little?
The Bible promises us that when we become believers, God gives us the right to be called His children. So, my dear reader, I exhort you to also believe in God and re-awaken the child in you. Be as creative and playful as you were when you were young. Free your mind from hate, guilt and worry. Do your work with joy, and greet each day with a smile. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on being like a child again, you might also enjoy another one I wrote more than three years ago on "Awakening the Child Within". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Remembering the Good
A True Story
on Nov 1, 2021
It has dawned on me that most of us tend to remember the bad things that have happened to us. We dwell on our past mistakes, on the foolish deeds we did and on the wrongs that others did to us. Those kinds of memories leave in their wake feelings of guilt and hate in our souls, thus depriving us of the joy we need to enjoy the present.
Of late, I have been thinking that perhaps we'd all be happier if we focused on the good things that happened to us in the past instead of dwelling on the bad. I don't know about you but for me, I have had quite a number of good breaks and great moments that are worth relishing. Allow me to tell you about four of such good breaks and the great moments they engendered.
The first good break I'll tell you about happened in the year 2000: that's when I was transferred to a private primary school called Kunoni Educational Centre. I consider being transferred to Kunoni as a good break because it gave me the opportunity to learn alongside bright pupils from well-off families and to be tutored by a team of dedicated teachers who made a lasting difference to my intellectual prowess.
During my days at Kunoni, I worked fanatically hard in my studies. I used to rise as early as 5.00am and head to school where I'd do some reading before other pupils reported to school. And in the evenings when I got back home, I'd do my homework before retiring to bed. Then over the weekends, I'd do a lot of revision. Oh, how I miss those golden bygone days!
My hard-work paid off because I excelled in the 2001 KCPE exams and got into Starehe Boys' Centre - the then top-ranked high school in Kenya. Getting into Starehe was another good break; it boosted my confidence and self-esteem. I recall with relish how proud I felt to be a Starehian in my first months in the school.
At Starehe, I schooled with brilliant students from all corners of our republic. I had to read a lot so as to beat those brilliant students in academics. As a result of my efforts, I rose from the bottom rung of my class to score an 'A' in the national secondary exams known as KCSE. Believe me, scoring an 'A' in those exams was no mean achievement.
Besides excelling in academics, the other noteworthy achievements I had in my high school years at Starehe were learning how to play volleyball, giving speeches during evening assemblies and accompanying the whole school on the piano during major functions. I must have been a gifted pianist because in 2004, I emerged as the third best student in the advanced category of the Kenya Music Festival piano-playing competition.
After I finished high school in November 2005, I joined Starehe Institute to pursue a diploma in Information Technology. And joining Starehe Institute was the next good break that happened to me, for it was in that institute that I acquired the web-design and computer-programming skills that have wonderfully enriched my life. The institute also gave me opportunities to develop my public-speaking and piano-playing skills. It was during my time there that I sat for my Grade 4 & 5 piano exams.
Perhaps most important, it was during my time in Starehe Institute that I developed some of my life philosophies. One of the philosophies is that true learning should be intellectually and emotionally arousing. I arrived at that philosophy after realizing most of us drill facts into our minds without questioning them, and we call that learning. But true learning, as I have said, should be intellectually and emotionally arousing. I still believe in that philosophy.
After I left Starehe Institute in April 2007, I joined the 9.30am English service choir of All Saints' Cathedral church in Nairobi. Joining that choir was the next good break that happened to me. Not only did I form lasting friendships in the choir, I also developed a passion for hymn-singing. And that passion deepened my faith in God and in the Bible as His inerrant Word.
There you have them: that is, the good breaks I have had in my life so far. As I reflected on those good breaks, I couldn't help perceive them as God directing my steps. And I have this firm belief that the same God who saw me through to Kunoni, to Starehe and to All Saints' Cathedral is still directing my steps - a belief that is helping me face the future with confidence.
My dear reader, I challenge you to also get into the habit of remembering the good times in your past. Recall all the great things that God has done for you. As the American pastor Victoria Osteen recently said on Twitter, remembering the good will strengthen your faith in God and get you through the tough times. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on remembering the good, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about five years ago on "Blooming Where Planted". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.