Can One Mitigate The Curiosity Of A Child’s Mind?

by Esther Ojikutu

Driven by curiosity, people seek to explore the world. At no time in life is curiosity more powerful, or potentially more dangerous, as in early childhood.

I came across the story of a 9-year old child who started a fire in a mall in Abuja. As a mother of an 8 year old who is extra in his own amazing way, I deeply empathize with this child’s parents.

The other day my elderly neighbor knocked on our door with a delivery of unused nappies that someone had launched from my house onto his roof. He added with a kind smile that I needed to come with a ladder to remove the offending nappies from his roof. At first I smiled back thinking that he was joking, until he asked me to give him a date, only then did I realize that this is the UK, not Nigeria, an apology isn’t necessarily enough. To confirm my suspicions he dropped a letter the next day to find out when I would be climbing his roof to take out the nappies.

Obviously embarrassed, but very sure which of my children had the audacity to carry out such a mind bending task, I called my first child and gave him the letter to read and advise me what just punishment ought to be meted out to him for his wrongdoing, which had caused someone to question my ability to protect my kids. After reading the letter out loud for good measure, he replied: Mum, I’m sorry.

Can One Mitigate the Curiosity

Can One Mitigate The Curiosity Of A Child’s Mind?

What was going through his mind, I still have no idea. Maybe to him it was another science experiment. For those saying the parents didn’t train her properly, I definitely felt like I didn’t do my job well enough. But my question is: how many things can we shield our children from? How do we know what we missed while at work, at home, in our places of worship, during recreation, while busy trying to make a sense of life?

Parents know what it feels like to take the blame and judgement for their children’s errors, because you know that although they are growing so quickly, they are still very prone to making the wrong decisions. But aren’t we all?

To hear the young child say that she saw it on TV, wanted to try it out, and didn’t know that it would explode like that, sounded all too familiar. I hear it frequently at home. I didn’t know the chair would break, I didn’t know I would hurt her, I didn’t know the ball would go over the garden. Errors of judgement.

But what breaks my heart the most is this: What will her future look like in a country where we attribute everything to witches and evil spirits, hardly to personal error? In a country where jungle justice is better than the courts of law if the offense hits close enough to home.

What will happen to her when adults, the so-called ‘leaders of today’ have already condemned her and are asking for her to be sent to prison? A 9-year old. Aren’t there juvenile institutions where they can be remanded, yet learn and grow, and become productive individuals in the future? Oh! this is Nigeria.

ChildWhat will happen to her in a country where we chain and starve our young offenders? My heart bleeds and I can’t sleep without thinking of many children like her whose lives will take a dark turn that they may never recover from, not because they made a terrible mistake, but because they made it in my country, a country called Nigeria.

What about their education? Their life goals? Their hopes? dreams? Are our juvenile institutions equipped to prevent them from abuse? Does education extend to offenders in prison? Who speaks for these people who no longer have a voice? Who will champion their cause? Jesus help her. Help her family. Help those who have lost billions. Help Nigeria to treat offenders like humans with value. Help us God.

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