Some Mothers Do Have Them

Bringing up teenagers could be as maddening as trying to make sense out of our PR-based Jubilee political circus. Teenage is an interesting time because all teenagers think they have it all figured out. The teenager has difficulty connecting his actions with the oncoming consequences. I will give you an example.

I love jogging in parks mostly for the ambience created by trees and the off chance of meeting a female jogger tying her shoe laces. On this particular day, I decided to go for an early evening jog. I am a bit of a rat, metaphorically speaking when on the run, always looking for new trails (Panya routes) to break the monotony of a continuous circuit jog.

Craving for adventure, I turn down an overgrown path with overt signs of disuse quite intent on getting lost. Losing your bearings in a park is a perfect strategy for running the much talked about the extra mile as you try to figure your way back to familiarity. My pace had slowed down to a trot.

Trees in a cluster can have an overbearing influence almost condescending, in demanding acknowledgement. I was lost in a moment of utopian green peace until these two teenagers crudely snapped me back to reality.

There were in what we newspaper people refer to as ‘uncompromising position’. My pace became hesitant. I stared, remembering to keep my mouth closed as I painted a feigned picture of disbelief on my face. The boy was on top with his clothes still on and the girl had her knees sticking out from his sides. I could see neither of their faces from where I was standing. The young man was so clumsy; I felt like stopping to give directions but I doubted my intrusion would be welcome. I could see them quite clearly.

Their chosen spot for copulation was in full view from the path. I contemplated a few things as I drew alongside them. Should I take the law into my own hands by executing a citizen’s arrest and frog march the pair to the nearest police station with their clothes in their hands escorted by a swelling jeering mob?

How about, asking them to stop briefly for a friendly word from a wandering jogger which would be a perfect opportunity to deliver a disturbing speech on the necessity of safe sex as well as pointing out the many risks associated with outdoor sex such as crawling red ants and unreasonable watchmen.

They remained very still obviously aware of my presence but they did not look up to confirm the source of the disturbance. It quickly occurred to me that it was their own juvenile way of saying, “Bugger off and mind your own business” and that was exactly what I did. I continued jogging without so much as a second glance. Nothing has changed.

Green lodgings (google Muliro gardens) still remain popular venues for desecration. It appears that the bush has retained the same allure of the old. When I came back along the same path, not for a second viewing but frankly because I was lost, they were gone. It was certainly a very brief encounter. I pictured the young man spewing an exaggerated story about how well he had ‘scored’ to his buddies who must have been kicking themselves in the shin for having not thought of exploring the outdoor option.

If you are a park attendant in this country, do your rounds.

I would love to act with shock and disbelief followed by wholesome condemnation of anyone who may be called a teenager and probably throw in an old time favourite, “The children of today are so so spoilt”. When kids can’t even hide themselves properly to copulate, it occurs to you that they may be totally aware of the consequences.

Quite clearly they have no idea how difficult it is outpacing a simi wielding watchman cursing in his mother tongue with your trousers around you ankles.

In our days the kids exercised discretion because we understood the consequences. The village was a vigilante and any given stranger could dispense a thrashing for what was deemed as ‘bad manners’.  Playing with girls could have you ostracised socially. Today young people flaunt it in your face and harass old men into submission with their pestering. They are only mirroring what they see.

I kind of feel sorry for the present day teenagers. You have unlimited internet porn urging you on, irresponsible adults giving you leeway, growing peer pressure and ambiguous safe sex messages that can be very confusing after a few gulps of adulterated soda.

When adults talk to teenagers about sex, we always assume that they are not in the know. How naïve? Have you watched under 5-year-olds twerking at a Fanta and biscuits birthday party?

We totally underestimate the influence that media and the internet have had on our kids. I have met a mother who had the sex talk with her 4-year-old after she caught getting fooling around with a 5-year-old girl, under a draped table, during a wedding.  By age ten, some kids have already settled on their preferred genre of porn. They now live in a world with sexualized cartoon characters and sex is used to sell everything. Even soda bottles are curvy!

Status now has little to do with how fast you can ride a bike downhill or how many tadpoles you own. When teenagers look out for guidance, they do not get it at home. The supposedly closest people in their lives will not hear anything of it.

Parents turn into ostriches and bury their heads in denial when the word sex, that dirty word, is mentioned. In school, they don’t get much either especially not when they still insist on using the butterfly metamorphosis example to illustrate the changes in human sexuality.

So they ape, imitate and experiment and the end result is joggers tumbling on youngsters making out in the bushes.

Your kids are just a reflection of who you are. If we don’t correct ourselves, how do you expect them to know any better?

From the Mantalk archives.

Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan newspaper columnist. The blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.


  1. Kiama Kaara

    You are so spot on OP. For us parents, the ostrich option is the easier way out in a hard situation. This reminds me of some wise counsel an elder gave me last Sunday when he saw me give the discipline dose to my daughter in the church compound; “That is a perfect way of bringing up children. You are better off see them cry when they are young, because you are moulding them, than have them make you cry when they are adults…” Good day.

    • Thanks Kiama. We have to show up for our kids, put in the time and live to the high standards that we impose our children. That is what you sign up for when you become a parent.

  2. Thanks OP for the perspective… being a young parent myself am fearful of how the times have changed. I do try to live by that last statement in the piece..’Your kids are just a reflection of who you are. If we don’t correct ourselves, how do you expect them to know any better?’


    Monkey see monkey do….period

  4. Scary times we live in,as parents of today! But I read somewhere that each generation thinks the previous one had it better!Apparently not, because Sodom and Gomorrah happened centuries ago. Thanks for the admonition OP!As parents we need to take our God given role of guidance seriously.

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