Flowerly Maua

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I smile recklessly and I love excessively. I live today knowing I have no other day until tomorrow. Now is my moment. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is a mystery, but today, today is my gift (present).

Friday, 6 June 2008

Beating with muiko

During my days as a child, there was no detention or grounding. My teachers dealt with vibokos and my parents with slippers and miiko (wooden spoons) and belts. In today’s world, that was child abuse. I fail to comprehend where I would be if I did not get these, but then again, both the teachers and the parents were very poor communicators and never really expressed what they expected clearly. Beating was the only way of being heard.

They always spoke in riddles, and sometimes they would mean the opposite of what they actually expected. Take for instance:

Before my mum leaves for work, she’d say things like ‘ngore mutharurukaniitie nyumba ihana kiara (let me find the house in a mess looking like a dumping ground), or ‘ngore mucinite nyumba’ (let me find the house on fire)’. If anything was a mess when she came back, as a cop, we saw the real her at work.

When I had my son, some of these disciplining came to mind. I wanted to bring an upright child who obeyed, not argued with me like I had seen with other children. At one year old, he had discovered the matches, and somehow knew how to light them. One day, rather than smack the back of his palm, I decided to proof a point. I lit a match stick and handed it to him. Very excitedly he held it until the flame burnt him. He really felt pain coz 12 yrs on, he’s not played with matches again.

He was ok with food, but at a certain age, almost 2, he’d spit it out and throw tantrums. At this stage, I introduced a muiko (wooden spoon). He knew what a muiko was. I smacked him with it on his bum, and there after, I’d just have to mention muiko for him to do what he was being told, including eating. He even learnt to hide them whenever he found them lying about, and I just kept buying them. He’d throw them in the bin, hide them under the bed, the sofas, everywhere.

By the time he was 3, I had smacked him 3 times which he never forgot. To send him to bed, I’d get muiko, and pointing the bedroom, I’d say ‘to bed right now’. If I put food on the table, I just had to put muiko by my side and say ‘eat your food’, and I was assured that he’d eat everything. Funny enough, he never saw me cook with it.

One day I put food on the table, and the phone rung. I was still holding the muiko as I went to pick the phone. My son finished his food and then went to play. He came back 20 minutes later and found me still on the phone. It was my turn to taste the muiko. He quickly went to the kitchen, got another muiko and whacked my bum really hard and pointing to my now cold food said ‘mummy, eat your food’. I had no words.

Before he turned 3, he went to nursery school. I’d drop him on my way to work and pick him up on my way back from work. It was always a fight getting him from the classroom, as it was so much fun, and being an only child, he’d dread going back to the house with no other children.

One evening, I pulled up at the gate to pick my son as usual. I noticed a police car parked inside the compound, and wondered what would have happened. As I got close to the classroom, the class-teacher and the head-teacher accompanied by a police woman approached me. I panicked. Was my son alright. Before I could utter a word, the police woman came to me and asked,

‘Are you master Maua’s mum? I nodded. ‘We’ve got every reason to believe that you abuse your son’.

‘What’, I asked.
‘You need to come with us to the police station and we’ll sort this out’.

Where’s my son, I kept asking

‘He’s with a social worker and will be at the police station’, I was told.

‘He’s only 3; you have no right to do this?’

I was taken to the police station where I was quizzed for almost 4 hours.

This is what had happened: my son’s class was playing with kitchen toys. The teacher picked up something and then asked the children,

'what’s this'

'a spoon',

'what’s it for'


She went on and on until she came to the muiko.

'What’s this?'

'A wooden spoon'.

'My son goes, no it’s a muiko. My mum calls it muiko'.

'No, it’s a wooden spoon, tell us what is it for'.

'it’s for beating bum bum'.

This was repeated at different times in different places and the answer was the same.

‘Does your mum beat you on the bum?’

Yes, when I’m a bad boy.

The class teacher reported this to the head teacher who repeated the same things and finally had to call social services who involved the police. They did whatever they had to do and the last option was to wait for me.

I called my brother who was to act as the guardian. I figured my parental rights were temporarily withdrawn that day.

In a separate room, my son was being interviewed, and I was being interviewed. It was my word against a 3 yr old. The problem was, at that age he did not know how to tell a lie. So whatever he said was taken into account.

After almost 4 hours of hell, in his own way, his own words, he told of how I had beaten him only 3 times, and how I had used the muiko to threaten him if he did not do the things mummy wanted him to do.

Those 4 hours were very terrifying, and at some point I lost it, just imagining social services taking my son away from me. I think there and then I decided to never beat him again. It's lie, coz I still did, once more, story of another day.

Think of this when next you beat a child. I guess I was lucky, several have not.

It taught me to embark on other techniques, grounding and denying the things children like most. For my son football, tv and designing football gear on the computer mean so much. Grounding for me means no TV, play-station, game-boy, psp, computer etc. When the sun is up high, he’s thinking of playing football, or when Arsenal is playing, he thinks he can take ownership of telly, I send him to his room. Through the window, he watches as his friends are playing or listens as neighbours are cheering. Next time he, he thinks twice going against my rules.


joyunspeakable said...


lol...my mother used a spoon on me until it bent....a stainless steel one.....

me? i discipline my children....am in Kenya.....socail service or no...we talk once, twice, third time......mshipi...kiboko....on the hand....on the bum in that order.

How's your birthday going?

Maua said...

Mum's fav was a slipper, reckoned there was no time to get a belt unless she had it on (belt was part of uniform).

Don't worry, social services will catch up in Kenya, by then your son will write of how he punishes his children.

No work today, my son's taking me to dinner, no idea where. Today I have to kesha somewhere I'll feel nearer to God. Be silent suggested I give thanx.

I'll tell you about it.

KK said...

Happy Birthday again.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Hey glad to have you back. That birthday party was sure an extended one! Now let me go back and read the post.

31337 said...

wah! that was some experience. i shall leave the child rearing to others, now that we shall let the state do the supervision, the children run the homes, at least from the current appalling crop of brats i have come across dictating what is on and what is not. sad really, quite simply respect is out the window. i stop there for i fear i may blog in you comments!

Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

Ngore muriite cukari ugathira, ni mwaigua? You'd still get caned for executing those orders.

Prettylyf said...

LOL@Joyunspeakable...your order of events crack me up

@Maua-Interesting story...that musta been a terrifying experience but am glad you both got out fine

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

My mum also used to issue orders in reverse. Ngore nyumba ina giko. or she'd say, ngiukari, ni muhatite nyumba? Then she'd answer herself 'aca'. Haki mothers, dont you just love them.

Mum never beat us much though. She was a gentle soul but her gentleness made us feel so guilty if we wronged her. But if we really really went overboard, she used to pinch the insides of the thighs. Very painful that one.

petesmama said...

What an experience... you must have been terrifed of losing your boy. Yes, we may have to be more creative with punishment. The problem is many people think that doing away with punishment altogether makes them modern, caring parents.

My son gets his smack on the bottom and he knows that he better not make Mama get up out of her seat to correct him. I will raise me a man, not a whining spoilt brat.

Mo Ma said...

It's sad the extent these people go to; there was an African woman in Norway who would discipline her child in the usual way an African mother would back home.

After a few years abroad, pesky neighbours called the authorities and now, all her kids have been fostered out to different white families OUTSIDE the country and the mother has literally gone raving mad.

Back on 'lighter stuff', my mum used her hand liberally and on the occasions when I had done something wrong, it was likely a long lecture in her room followed by a belt-beating I wouldn't forget anytime soon.

Lord knows I'll also whip my kid when the need arises.

Nairobian Perspective said...

hey yo have a nice blog here,dropped by from Wanjiku's blog,sh is a dear friend! we should exchange links ama?mama muiko

Anonymous said...

lol....me, i would still beat him and tell to lie to the so-called social services. thats why the kids in this country are a mess...

Angel said...

social what???
i second Neema thats why children there are so spoilt, if i was to bring up my child there, he would have to be moulded by the mwiko till he was about 7... what a pity!

PS: grounding doesnt work for African children, Kenyan, Kikuyus especially!

Maua said...

@ Neema and Angel, Those 3+hrs in a police station made me think. Loosing my son was something I was not ready for, and yes, before the incident I was going to use muiko, so I thought till I got there.

Telling him to lie, is not the answer, he'll just end up corrupt. Denying his most valued activities and foods, and rewarding accordingly has worked. To be honest, when I'm out there and I see other kids and compare, I feel so pround. Beating is not the answer, communication is. If they understand the consequences, they will think twice before dissobeying.

extravagantgrace said...

My mum says by the time she got to having me, she had given up on the disciplining. What I got was a telling off from my dad and although he never raised his voice, you knew you had been told off. I have only one memory of being smacked but I deserved it cos I was well naughty