Dear MIMsters: How My Children’s Head Teacher Taught Me The True Meaning of Priority

This is how I learnt the true meaning of the word, “priority”.

In my family, celebrating birthdays was something my mother held very dear. Even when we did not have enough at home, my mother would ensure she sought for money from family and friends to throw us a party. She did not celebrate only our milestones, she celebrated every age saying: “no one is guaranteed tomorrow, so celebrate every day you witness to the fullest.”

Yes! I grew up with the mentality of celebrating birthdays whether it was convenient or not until I learnt the hard way.

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Let’s not even lie to ourselves, it is true that men are the heads of their homes but in a typical marriage, women are the ones who direct the affairs of the home. My husband did not grow up with the kind of mentality I grew up with but with time, he joined me. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them!

It was my son’s birthday, so I got him a cake for school, bought party packs and filled them up with lots of goodies, got drinks for both teaching and non-teaching staff, contracted the school photographer to capture the moments for me since it was on a Friday; I wasn’t about to allow anything slide. It was his 7th birthday, so to justify my actions, I themed it: “arrival to perfection age.”

After school, I took the birthday boy and his sister out for more celebration and all seemed cool until the school bus returned them less than an hour after it picked them up on Monday. The driver told me that the HM instructed him to do so.

I put a call through to the HM, but she wouldn’t pick up so I called my daughter’s class teacher, that one is very accessible, probably because I tip her well and she opened up to me.

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The proprietress had returned to school on Friday to meet the birthday package I left for her. I was told she asked to see the list of those owing school fees and asked that my children be kept away from school until they paid up. I was told she said I was irresponsible for throwing a party for a child who owed school fees. I died a thousand times!

My children’s school has a policy of three weeks grace to pay school fees after resumption and my son’s birthday was in the second week of resumption. I felt the one more week of grace could still wait but alas, the proprietress felt I misplaced my priorities.

The money spent on the birthday was not even up to 40% of my children’s total fees, so why did this woman think she could embarrass me this way? I was so furious I threatened to take my children away from her school but my husband wouldn’t let me. He said even though he didn’t think the proprietress acted wisely, he thought it wasn’t also not wise to have thrown a party at school when we knew we hadn’t fulfilled our obligations to them. He added that it was sheer display of lack of respect to the school on our part.

Sadly, the children spent an extra week at home before we could pay their fees. Needless to say, I learnt my lesson in the most embarrassing way.

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Recently, it was my daughter’s birthday. It happened shortly before school resumed. When my husband asked me what plans I had for her, I told him school fees first. We paid their school fees on the first day of resumption, and I was fulfilled. I diverted the money I would have spent on party packs to more important ventures and I can say that for the first time ever, I was not under any self-inflicted stress to keep my mother’s tradition in my own home. My husband hasn’t stopped laughing at me though.

Are you laughing at me too? Don’t just laugh at me, share your own story too.

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