Nkem Story

How to Grow Up African

September 2, 2017

Growing up in an African Household in the U.S. was not all fun and games. My parents wanted to ensure that we ALWAYS remembered our roots and that were raised as Nigerian as possible. At the time, my siblings and I thought our parents were just trying to be SUPER strict. We were jealous of our friends with the “cool” parents. Like I said in yesterday’s post, we didn’t grow up around other Africans so we didn’t realize these rules were perfectly normal. But apparently, they went to the same parenting school as most other African parents.

After discussing with my siblings, here were the top 10 house rules that we could remember:

1. Rules about the TV and Computer

My siblings and I are 90s kids so we grew up around the dawn of technology and personal computers. My parents were quick on the uptake but also swift on the not letting it take over all our time. For the TV, it was quite simple: no TV before 6pm on weekends and throughout the summer, and no TV during the week during the school year.
When we got our first Macintosh, there were three of us and one computer so we all had to take turns. My older brother got the most time and it fell down from there. Both the computer and the TV had parental controls up the wazoo. Some of these rules, but TV and Computer rules, relaxed as we got older.


2. Read, read and then read some more

Both my parents were book worms and they instilled that love of reading in us kids…by fire and by force. During the summer months, we had to read at least 3 hours each day. We usually participated in the summer reading programs our public library had – so that meant lots of free baseball games and announcers calling our name “Oho,” like the how J is pronounced in Spanish.
But in the end, the 3 hours a day of reading never seemed like a chore. I remember one summer, we got tones of book from the library, pitched a tent on the back porch and got to stay up all night reading under the stars with our flashlight. My dad was convinced the reason I needed glasses so early in life was because I kept reading past my bedtime with dim lighting.

My older brother and I.

3. My dad tried to implement this “your teacher has to sign your assignment book” rule

…but my brother and I had learned rebellion by that time. This was the time when we first started going to public school (we had attended a Catholic school my mom taught at up to that point). So now, it was time to spread our wings and go to a public high school – my dad was just not ready. He told us to come with our assignment books signed by the teacher. We did it for like a week, then came together and eloquently explained why we didn’t want to do it anymore. My dad was furious, but the rule soon died.

4. Sleeping over at whose house?

Going over, and especially sleeping over at friends’ houses was no easy trait. Our parents first had to know – and like – that person’s parents. Suffice to say, there was only a handful of houses I ever slept over at. Sometimes, even when my parents knew and liked their parents, AND we had slept over at their house before…my parents would just say no. Even for simple, “can I go over to so and so’s house,” they would just say no. And don’t even bother asking why because the response would be “because Y has a long tail.” Sometimes they just liked to remind us that they could say no if they wanted.

5. Had a roaster for evening chores that was then rotated between my brothers and I

My sister was too young to be on the list, but basically it rotated nightly from taking out the trash (go through every room), vacuum the house (we just called it hoovering…little did we know that was the name of a vacuum brand), and washing the dishes. Whoever washed the dishes also had to sweep the kitchen and wipe down the counters. Having the roaster meant there was no arguing about whose turn it was to do what. On the weekends we also had to clean the bathroom. My older brother did the bathtub, I did the toilet and my little brother did the sink. You couldn’t go do anything that Saturday until you had done your part of the bathroom.

Me and my baby sister! She missed out on most of the “fun” house rules.

6. No hitting each other – especially your sister.

Sometimes it pays to be girl. Hitting me and my sis was a no go…but hitting each other was a big no-no anyways, so idk how much of a win I got. You especially could not hit anyone older than you, for ANY reason. But if you’re older and hit the younger one unnecessarily, you also got in lots of trouble. If it was deserved, the younger one was simply told “You had it coming.”

7. Bring home good grades or don’t come home at all.

I’m just joking!! But might as well have been a rule.

8. No dating until we were in university

Then the day my parents dropped me off at uni, they said: “Molayo, just focus on your studies. The boys will come later.” LOOOL.

9. Had to ask for things we wanted in Yoruba

…especially desert. My parents wanted to ensure that we spoke as much Yoruba as possible – and I guess it paid off because I still understand almost all Yoruba spoken to me and can keep up a half way decent conversation in Yoruba.

10. Had to always greet like proper Yoruba children

So this meant finding our parents to say good morning, each morning. Thanking our parents for any and all meals. Jumping up from wherever we were to greet our parents if they came home, and helping them with their bags. Making a bee line to our parents as soon as we got home to greet them. Our friends knew this rule as well, so whenever they came over to our house (we didn’t bring many friends home), they also knew to go find our parents and greet them when they arrived and before they left. But they could greet in English. We greeted in Yoruba, with the accompanying body motions and everything. Sorry for you the day you forgot to do all that.

birthday makeup, birthday reflection

These were just the ones that made the list! There were so many others like not bringing home food unless you planned to share it with everyone…as soon as it went in the fridge, it was no longer yours. There were also rules that applied to just me like no wearing make-up, couldn’t put colored extensions in my hair and couldn’t get a 2nd piercing until I was 18 and could pay for it myself (now I have 8 piercings…all visible…so be careful what you bar your daughters from doing, haha!)

Looking back, I really appreciate the way our parents raised us. While it seemed super strict at the time, it’s what turned my siblings and I into the awesome people we are today – if I do say so myself! But I don’t think I say so myself – we used to get notes home saying how well behaved and polite we were in school. As if it was by choice.

I definitely plan to raise my kids in a similar way because these rules teach discipline, prioritizing and respecting your elders. These are important rules to instill on any kids. I think the only difference is I might add a little more explanation in there and a little less belting….lol.

Let me know what you thought of today’s theme! It was “Top 10 House Rules” for #30DayAfriBlogger and “Childhood Memories” for the #BlogTemberChallenge. Yay for two stones with one bird. Or something.

What were some rules in your house growing up and do you think you’ll raise your kids the way your parents raised you? Don’t forget to comment below and make sure you are subscribed to the blog to keep up to date on my adventures – and spy on me to make sure I’m completing the #30DayAfriBlogger Challenge. You can subscribe here:

Here are some of my favs from yesterday’s theme (My blogging journey):

Ms Tina talks about how her father’s passing inspired her to use writing as an outlet and it was that outlet that turned into a beautiful blog.

Tendai talks about how he never thought social media was that cool, and now he’s all the way in! With a little humor, and lots of wit he tells us how he went from avoiding social media to becoming a travel blogger.

Chineme, my boo bear, gives us a brief synopsis of her blogging journey and talks a bit about when she took over AfroBlogger Twitter page. She’s the reason that I’m not only doing the #30DayAfriBlogger, but also doing the #BlogtemberChallenge that AfroBloggers is running. Because when you celebrate Africa Month. You do it 110%.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed it! And continue to follow the hashtag #30DayAfriBlogger and #blogtemberchallenge to see what other awesome Africans are saying today and throughout the month.

Also, new goal for my future posts:
– Shorter posts!

 

Always,

Omolayo Nkem

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8 Comments

  • Reply Nneka September 2, 2017 at 20:34

    So many of these rules resonate with me too! Especially 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. I guess that’s why our parents get along and why Mayowa was one of (few) people who could stop by the house every now and then. Lol

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem September 3, 2017 at 15:53

      lol! So almost all!
      And haha, yeah exactly. Birds of a feather flock together!
      Thanks for stopping by Nneka! Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  • Reply ~B September 3, 2017 at 00:40

    hahahaha cute outfits with the brother!!!
    i brought back good grades without being asked so it was never a thing
    ~B

    two stones one bird !!!!!!

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem September 3, 2017 at 15:54

      Loool! Yeah! On bird two stones right? Mrrp, was too lazy to change it once I realized I got it backwards!
      And thanks!! We like to wear matching outfits when we’re about to kick@SS!!

  • Reply Rutendo Matongo September 3, 2017 at 01:58

    Oh wow… Africa is one for sure! We had a rule that said anyone’s half eaten food or drink is fair game come the next day.
    The rules seemed insane, but they shaped up into great people.
    The one I still don’t get is, “No boys”, then you hit 24, you’re asked when you’re getting married… it doesn’t happen by magic!!

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem September 3, 2017 at 15:56

      LOL! I’m telling you…they all went to the same school! And that school clearly had some lessons missing, otherwise this huge no-dating vs. when are you getting married disparity, wouldn’t have happened. Lol.

  • Reply Beauty's Daughter September 3, 2017 at 02:09

    African parents of a,certain generation were/are the same!
    Great post girl, so enjoyed it.

    Now…about that older brother…?

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem September 3, 2017 at 15:57

      LOOOOOOOOOOL!! You kill me everytime!! I’ll let him know you’re interested…but we already found him a wife when we went to Ivory Coast. The girl we bought internet for let us know she planned to marry him. We said ok! So long as you don’t mind being wife #2. LOLOLOL.

    Any Thoughts?

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