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Every child has a
Different learning style and pace.
Each child is
Unique, not only
Capable of learning
But also capable
-Robert John Meehan
She turned on her bed, hot tears slipping down her face. Andrew was fast asleep. How dare he sleep after ripping off her peace? She felt it was her stubbornness that made her lose her peace but she argued inwardly that it was Andrew’s fault.
After the high moment at the Olaniyan’s they got home late that night and Andrew raised the issue of Lovette’s job and parenting.
“Like I said, I don’t think it’s advisable for you to just sit around alone in this house. Depression is real. And as much as we are trusting God and are being hopeful, you know there are times when barbed thoughts get to us. I don’t want you to be vulnerable to Satan’s darts. I appreciate the fact that you are willing to put your career on hold for the sake of the child, but I still think it’s not yet time”
“Parenting Precious is a full-time job, you know this”
“My concern is the isolation”
Lovette sighed. “I said I will start the Bible club, more so, there’s Dupe to visit with and follow up. I will shop for groceries and do other stuff. I can’t be so isolated now.”
Andrew scooped spoons of milk into his bowl of cereal until Lovette held his hand saying, that’s about enough, you must feed healthy. He smiled and said, “Babe, I still don’t have a good feeling about this,” Lovette protested but he cut her words with “Maybe later, but not now.”
“Is this about the pay cheque?”
“What? You know it’s not”
“How will I know that” Her arms were akimbo. Andrew was fast becoming pissed.
“All I’m trying to do is look out for you”
“Sweet. But I’m not a child, I can look out for myself”
“We are one, remember? If you wanted to look out for yourself and do everything for yourself, you should have stayed single!” He regretted the harshness of his statement and at the same time didn’t. “You know what? Do whatever you like” He walked out of the kitchen and then stopped at the dining, turning to her.
“On a second thought, you won’t do whatever you like. You will resume teaching as soon as your maternity leave is over” With that he walked to the living room and settled for a basketball match as he munched on his soggy cereal.
Lovette walked into the room, angry. She came out to the living room minutes later, still angry.
“Who do you even think you are to give me orders and boss me around?”
“You don’t want to go back to your job?” Andrew said after a long pause.
Oh, really? God, this man is trying to run my life!
As unto Christ, submit.
This is not fair!
“If you are bent on doing your will, then so be it”
Lovette could not say anything. She turned around half ran half walked to the room, covered herself with the duvet and cried out her anger. Andrew entered the room unobtrusively and after a shower, slipped under the cover and slept soundly.
God, I will buckle under the pressure of combining my job with parenting Precious.
She didn’t hear anything she only a felt a prompting to Google the NGO Dr. Amogbonjaye had told her about. She tried to remember the name and eventually did. Mo-Rainbow Foundation.
She propped her pillow behind her back, sat up and searched out the foundation. She immediately found its website and a number of other suggestions; interviews with the founder, her story and how the foundation started. Lovette clicked on the website link. The home page was colourful. She read the message from the founder. Her story intrigued Lovette. A seasoned banker who left her job to cater for daughter and pursue her God-given passion.
How can Andrew not see that this is the way to go? If Mrs. Adetola’s husband had decided to keep her on her banking job, will MRF be a reality? Oh, God what is wrong with my husband? Why is he standing in the way?
Trust and obey
Lovette shook her head and continued surfing the website.
The vision was to create a world where people living with Down’s syndrome can live life to the fullest.
Hmmm.. Create a world… Ambitious much. She thought.
She saw flyers for upcoming different programs. ‘Dressup and Messup S2’ made Lovette giggle in excitement. She imagined Precious getting himself dirty with different colours as he painted a masterpiece, a picture of her.
There were educational classes during the week as well as therapeutic programs and some events at set times during weekends. Lovette sighed. This will be good for Precious and Goke.
When Lovette saw the request for volunteers, her heart thumped.
“Good morning, Mr. Okwanze” Lovette set the tray on his bedside table.
Andrew shadowed his eyes from the rude rays of sunlight that filtered through the windows as Lovette pushed back the purple drapes. He sat up and husked “What’s happening?”
“I don’t get”
“You’re being sweet to me, serving me breakfast in bed, and we both know yesterday didn’t end well for us, so what’s the catch?”
“I want to be a volunteer at Mo-Rainbow Foundation. I could apply to teach the children numeracy and literacy.”
Andrew smiled as he took a bite of toast. “You had to find a way to have your way and mine at once, didn’t you?”
Lovette smiled back. “I want to do God’s will”
Andrew nodded. “I’m at peace with that. You can go ahead.” He slurped on his tea. “And this tea is watery” he took another swig, “very watery”
“I guess watery tea is better than undone, sugary yam with palm oil and salt” Lovette bounced back.
“I guess there’s love to sweeten the yam, but love can’t replace milk”
“You are getting old uncle, you are not as lactose tolerant as your son. I won’t let you load your gut with trash”
Andrew shook his head. “So because you’ve been reading noahsdad now, you think you’re my doctor, abi?”
Lovette waved him off “Eat fast.”
“Tell me what else you found about the foundation”
“On our way to Festac I will gist you”
Andrew furrowed his brows. “What’s happening in Festac?”
“We are going to MRF.”
Seconds no longer crawled by with the languor of okra soup, her days were now a rushing torrent, whooshing past with the speed of stress, road trips to and from Festac, parenting Precious, preparing lesson notes, bonding with co-workers and other parents at the foundation, being a wife to Andrew and of course, spending time with the Lord. She knew things could only get more hectic since she and Modupe were ready to kick off the Bible club that will hold on Friday and Saturday evenings and at the Okwanze’s. But in the midst of the whole new trend, Lovette enjoyed a peace that spiraled through her being, stemming right from her core, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength’ gained a clearer meaning to her now. She felt fulfilled and had no iota of doubt in her heart about whether or not she was at the very centre of God’s will.
Andrew was now back to his job and just the other day he told Lovette that one of the things that made him excited to come home after a long day at work, was the thought of the fluffy gurgle of delight his son makes whenever he lifted him high up and nuzzled his tummy.
Lovette had folded her arms across her chest “So basically what you’re saying is that it’s your son that makes you happy to come home, bah?”
“And you of course,” Andrew said with a wink
“Precious and me or me and Precious?”
Andrew huffed “Biko, I no get strength, shift make I pass” He playfully jostled her as he walked into the bathroom to slosh his mouth with mouthwash.
Lovette smiled as she settled in the driver’s seat of her Toyota Camry. She glanced briefly at Precious who was sleeping in his cradle on the front passenger’s seat before she turned on the ignition. He was growing so slow when compared to other regular kids, but she knew better. One Sunday when she stared at the Animashaun’s daughter, Rebecca a three months old child, same as Precious, chew on her teether, Lovette felt a sharp jab in her gut and just then it dropped in her spirit.
They that compare themselves with themselves, or measure themselves with themselves, are not wise.
Precious was unique, not just any other child and she believed that with him, God will make all things beautiful in his time. She had learned a whole lot in the past two months of her volunteering with MRF, every day was like the flipping of a new page in a manual for parenting. She learned by watching the physiotherapist massage the children, she learned basic things to check for when the doctors came by for routine check-ups, she learned how playing with certain toys developed their attention and gross motor skills, how exercises like picking beans enhanced their fine motor skills. She learned to be patient in teaching the children literacy and numeracy, at first it was really tough and frustrating for her considering that she had never had to deal with such pupils in the past, but she had to calmly learn to understand each child and the manner of learning that worked for them. But she learned the most whenever she listened to Mrs. Adetola share her experiences, give instructions or corrections. She attended seminars and talk shows.
She was told that music, dance, and rhythm was therapeutic for the children and that was where Modupe came in. She had taken dance classes all through her service year and she knew enough to be a dance instructor. It was always a time to get a good laugh whenever she watched the children dance, not a laugh of mockery, but one that came from a tickling of delight.
Precious loved the environment. She could tell by how he started struggling to purr and eventually ends up drooling all over his shirt, and once she saw that he tried to reach for a bright green toy. His hands could barely move, but the fact that he was making an effort, pushing, fighting, was enough to encourage Lovette’s heart.
As she sped past streets, she wanted to power down the windows and have her hair windblown while she blasts one of her favourite Lauren Diagle songs from the stereo, like it was her habit to do anytime she rode with Andrew in the past, but for the sake of her son she couldn’t.
Oh, the sacrifices one has to make for their children
Just thinking of the Bible club made her smile. She couldn’t wait. Modupe’s growth was astounding, her love for Goke was now apparent to all and sundry and even more obvious was her love and hunger for God. How many times in a day did she walk over to Lovette’s desk to ask questions and get clarifications? The moment Lovette shared the burden for children evangelism she had with Modupe, she caught the fire and decided they will fast and pray weekly to get clearer instructions as regards the assignment, and now they were sure God wanted them to start the bible club. Andrew also attested to a steady although not so rapid growth in Jarret.
She made a mental note to remind the Animashaun’s to bring their first daughter Priscilla who was five over to her’s for the Bible club, she will also tell Mrs. Okorie and Mr. Bright who was a single father and will gladly do anything to have his rumbustious three sons out of his face for even a minute.
When she got home, she sighed as she dropped her bag on the centre table, a glance at the wall clock told her it was quarter past six. She yawned.
Andrew should be home in the next thirty minutes. What can I cook oh? Ah, God I’m tired oh.
She walked to the kitchen hissing repeatedly. She picked a pot, rinsed it at the tap, before she put water in it, still unsure of what to prepare. She put the water on the burner. Opening the deep freezer, she spotted a plastic container red with meat stew. Her appetite roused and she knew at once what she was going to prepare. Andrew will love it, she licked her lips and immediately picked the container and put it on the counter.
Andrew drove home looking forward to his wife’s hug and kiss and then the hope of seeing his son.
Andrew, your father must be writhing in his grave, see how soft you are. He teased himself.
I’d rather be soft with love than hard enough to attempt murdering my own son. Thank you, Jesus, for working in me, both to will and to do of your good pleasure.
Chai, we’ve come a long way, men.
These days, his job was starting to feel like a shell closing in on him, stories were now coming in a flood, in recent times he stayed up at night to write out his thoughts and knocked back his head in the office as denied sleep, deny him peace in retaliation. All he wanted to do was just sit with a cup of juice, a bottle of groundnut, maybe with suya and write all day. But that was improbable, he needed his job to pay the bills. Precious’ therapy bills, the rent, money for home upkeep.
Nah, mister man, snap out of it, you need this job. You can’t just quit because of some whims.
He was about to slot his own copy of the key into the main entrance door before he remembered his laptop. He hissed and walked clumsily to the car. The moment he stepped into the house, what welcomed him was not his wife’s smile, hug or kiss, it was the smoky smell of burning food.
He rushed to the kitchen, turned off the cooker, and picked the pot off the burner with padded gloves. He came to the living room where his wife was sprawled on the couch, deep in sleep. He tapped her roughly.
“Where you trying to raze down the house?”
Immediately her eyes popped open she ran to the kitchen and when she realized the disaster that had happened, she held her forehead.
“Hun, I was very tired”
Andrew shook his head and walked past her into the kitchen, to serve both of them.
Lilian was with her best buddy, classmate and neighbour gisting about their favourite TV shows until her parents entered the living room from the hallway that led out of the inner chambers of the plush house.
“Lily, Lily how are you doing?” Priscilla’s mum hunkered before her and touched her cheeks.
“I’m fi- fine ma”
“You look terrified. My mum doesn’t bite” Priscilla was offended.
Priscilla’s mum laughed in that manner that was too bright to be genuine and then she lifted her eyes to see her husband who was already walking through the door. “Aren’t you two just lovely? Just have a nice time. Bye” Was she walking fast to the door in order to meet Priscilla’s dad for another screaming fit? Lilian liked Priscilla quite alright, but she didn’t like the tension that filled the air as soon as her parents walked into the room. She didn’t like Priscilla’s dad, his face was always hard and he never acknowledged her presence not even once, he never replied her greeting or even looked at her as though she was too little receive the favour of his glance.
“What are you thinking about?” Priscilla’s brows were furrowed.
“Your mum, what’s that black thing under her eyes?” Lilian knew, Priscilla too knew what the black eye was, but they were both going to play children like they were expected to.
Priscilla shrugged “Eye pencil, maybe, I don’t know”
Lilian didn’t like coming to the Animashaun’s but she hated staying in her house more. It reminded her of all the terrible things she’d experienced. On every armoire, every part of the wall, on every single thing in that house seemed to be stamped a testament of what Jide did to her.
“I love your mum” Lilian wanted to say more, but she swallowed her words, emotions, and reality like she was fast becoming used to.
Priscilla was swift to change the subject to something more convenient. “Eh ehn, there’s this Bible club that holds during the weekend, we could go together, my mum will take us”
“Bible?” Lilian scowled, “No, please” Then she thought better of it, she could with anything that will take her out of that haunting house.
“Well, let’s see. I’ll tell my mum” Lilian shrugged sitting on her crossed legs.
“It’s getting dark, let me walk you home,” Priscilla said and Lilian knew she was still angry for her rude stare at her mum. Lilian sighed.
It’s about time for me to brace myself for tonight. Her heart squeezed shut.
It won’t last long… it’s May already, by next month he’d be gone. Mom said his exams will soon be over.
That was her consolation and hope. But it also was the cause of her grief, because there were days when she sort of enjoyed what came at midnight. Yes, it was bizarre, but sometimes, the pummels, shoves, fear and darkness were not so strange anymore and with the familiarity came a weird shade of pleasure and she knew that while she wanted him to go, a part of her was still bound to miss the darkness he made her share with him. What she truly wanted was to be restored back to the Lilian she was a couple of months back before Jide came.
She was also livid that Jide will go and the earth will just flippantly continue spinning about its imaginary axis, totally oblivious of what happened to her, life will continue. Jide will walk out of that house and get away with everything he did to her.
She swallowed when she reached the porch of her house. Priscilla waved to her and turned around.
Brace yourself, baby. You’ve been through this several times
Goke stood by the window of the rickety moving yellow bus and slapped open palms on it excitedly. Modupe smiled at him, she loved his blitheness.
“Ami, am- ami,” He pointed through the window, calling Dupe’s attention, “Uh-uh -yot”
Modupe quickly understood that he was calling for the Fan Ice Yogurt seller that was pedaling his business bicycle by.
“Driver, e jor, e duro mo f era nkan (driver, please wait we want to buy something)”
Lovette was sitting beside them, Precious in her lap. They were both going to the market to shop for groceries and they could only use public transport since Lovette’s car had developed a fault and was parked at the mechanic’s. Lovette was glad that Dupe was proud to be seen with her son.
“Abeg na because of that your stupid child you wan delay us.. Driver abeg be going” A woman with patches of various shades yellow and green on her face and arms husked.
“I think say na only me see am o, I just dey look that pikin, you dey sure say e no be aridin? No offense oh, but e get one mountain wey I sabi, dem go fit cure the sickness”
“Sickness abi spirit?” A young bespectacled man said
The driver ignored all of them and continued driving. Goke continued stuttering “uh- uh- yot”. Lovette was very pissed. She glanced at Dupe and saw a sheen in her eyes, she had to stand up for her friend.
“Can you just stop, all of you, just stop!” She shouted and the sniggers, side talks and every conversation that was on in the vehicle gave way to a hush. “This woman right here is a proud mother of her son, she loves him. Yes, he has a condition, he has Down’s syndrome, and so what? My son too does, but that doesn’t make him any less than every other child. They might be delayed, but they should not be denied any right. They are different not stupid!” Tears slipped down her cheeks, “It’s for the sake of careless, callow, callous, ignorant and thoughtless remarks like this from people like all of you” She swept her hand to encompass everyone in the bus. Even the driver adjusted his rearview mirror to hear what this impassioned woman had to say. “That she made an attempt on her life in the past. Now, she’s trying to live above negativity and what do you offer? You try to pull her back into it!”
By the time she was done, she was breathing hard. Everyone clapped for her. Lovette touched Dupe’s arm, a gesture to show solidarity. Dupe didn’t turn to Lovette or acknowledge what she had done. Her straight face and twitching jaws made Lovette know she wasn’t just sad, she was mad- at her.
Questions for the week
*What kind of adult do you think Lilian will grow to be?
NEXT ON DOWN
As people got down from the bus they shook hands with Lovette said a word of encouragement and apologized to Dupe, some others ignored both of them. As they walked into the market, Dupe stopped Lovette.
“I know you love to be a hero, the capeless superwoman who always save the day but please, whenever you feel the need to present one of your grand speeches, have the decency to not spread the gory details of my life with it”
Lovette’s jaw fell, “But, Dupe you know that’s not how it is”
“How is it? Did I ask you to tell the whole world I almost committed suicide? Did I? Do you think I even like to remember it? But all you care about is how you look and the feeling heroism gives you. You can be a hero for all I care but keep your shit out of my life!”
Lovette swallowed. “Dupe I’m sorry”
“You will be sorry the next time you butt into my business” She hissed, balanced Goke on her hips and stalked off. Lovette’s fingers trembled.
Don’t miss any of the previous episodes