By Pauline Olisah
Dolapo, your son comes home from school one day, telling you excitedly that every other boy or girl in his class will be holidaying some place outside of the country this summer. And you know how kids are, so, Dolapo never misses an opportunity to ask, “mummy, are we traveling this summer?”, “where will we be having our summer holiday?” or “mummy, daddy, me too I want to go to London,” “I want to go to America,” which is usually the most common you hear.
You check around with your friends, your neighbors, church members or other mums in your children’s school that you are acquainted with, and everyone seem to have plans to holiday abroad. All of a sudden you feel pressured because you have no plans to travel due to some financial constraints. How deep the pockets of these people are, you don’t exactly know, but you do know you should not be left out of the clique. How can it be said that every other family in your ‘circle’ travelled and yours didn’t. So, you pull all the strings you can to make it happen, even if it means borrowing.
You borrow from a friend, not necessarily with a plan to pay back. Well, that’s not important now. You’ll sort all that out after your ‘by-force’ holiday. Now, you have to make sure that everyone who cares to listen know where you’ll be spending summer. ‘Is it easy?’ Excitedly, here you go, jetting out with your family. Like everyone else does when on holiday, you decide to shop with what’s left of your borrowed money. By the snap of your fingers, your expensive holiday is over. Time travels fast when you are having fun, doesn’t it? It’s now time to come home to face reality. And, in your case, reality means bills, bills, bills. The children’s school resumes in a few days which means fees have to be paid. Well, what’s the rush? You’ll just take advantage of the three weeks payment deadline and see what happens before then.
Soon after you arrive, you receive another reminder from your landlord to pay your rent. By the way, your friend who lent you that money has been calling. You did pick her call once to gloat about your trip, now that she wants her money back, you have nothing else to offer but excuses. So, you start avoiding her calls.
Oh, your daughter, Kunbi turns the big 5, and as you well know, that’s a landmark. You dare not miss throwing her a birthday bash, besides, everyone in her class who’s turned 5 lately had a party to which Kunbi was invited. Why should your daughter’s case be different? There you go splashing a big party for her. You take another loan from another friend……apart from your landlord and the school’s Bursar, no one knows about your unpaid school fees and rents, but people will notice if you don’t celebrate your daughter’s birthday in a big way, so you think. This is so important to you. After these major expenses, you’ll take a breather, you muse.
But guess what mama? There will always be people doing big stuffs around you, wearing designers, riding in expensive cars and building houses. How do you plan to keep keeping up with up with them? What are you going to do when your child is sent out of school?
Misplaced values, misplaced priorities will eventually result in catastrophe, and will on the other hand, send the wrong messages to your children, they will be growing up dysfunctionally. If our values are in the right places, we won’t be trying to keep up with the Jones’.