Onboard Flight #3960

On my quiet drive from work to the boys’ daycare earlier this evening; the only time of the day I have to reflect on the many blessings in my life; I was reminded again that when I give my fears to God, He takes me to a place of rest and peace.

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… rest and peace

 

My friends and family know that this Caught-in-between Mom (CibM) and planes do not go together. We are just not compatible J I am one of the few humans that could start a drama in a flying airplane from fear. Yes, I do have a phobia for flying.

Few years ago, I had to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee for work, and I cannot even begin to narrate the mental preparation I had to make weeks before this trip, just so I don’t cause a scene in the plane.

Contrary to what I had prayed for, the flight was not canceled. It was right on schedule. I feared even more on this day because there was a ‘bad’ storm. I’m sure frequent flyers would have considered that kind of weather ‘light rain’.

My legs wobbled with my first couple of steps as I entered through the airport doors. The airport looked different this morning. Everything looked so strange. As I walked through the security gates, it dawned on me that this was the point of no return. OMG!!! My whole system started screaming, there was chaos in my brain, as if a tornado was passing through.

We started boarding at exactly 5:50AM. And for the first time since I got my ticket, I looked at the flight details.

Delta Airlines, Flight #3960, Seat 8B.

No going back! I smiled at the air hostess like I was a pro as I entered the airplane. I got seated and pretended to be all calm. I looked at the faces of the people around me. Some were already sleeping, and some were laughing with excitement. I couldn’t understand how they felt this comfortable in an AIRPLANE.

Soon after, the flight attendant stood in the middle of the aisle. I couldn’t really hear what she was saying but I understood what she was trying to do. She looked like someone trying out for a choreography audition as she swung her hands and pointed to different things, played with a seat belt, the oxygen mask, etc. … Yeah right, like as if I’ll remember all these in the event of any mishap. And then, I heard the pilot clear his throat as he greeted the passengers and welcomed us onboard … Onboard Flight 3960.

I felt the plane move backwards. O.M.G!!! This is for real!!

This was a defining moment. I heard the pilot announce that due to the weather, we might be experiencing some turbulence for the entire 44 minutes of the flight. I wanted to yell “put me down!!!” I closed my eyes, with my seat in upright position, put my knees together, clasped my hands and put them in between my thighs. I could not even say a word of prayer but my thoughts travelled far… so far away.

I closed my eyes and thought about all the times God had seen me through really bad situations. I thought about my beautiful and entertaining daughter, I thought about my family, I thought about my Church family, my loving and caring friends. I remembered all my visions that I had written down for the year. I flashed back to all the times God had made me smile. And then, all of a sudden, I felt God’s love and peace.

In this world I travelled to in the plane, it was so beautiful and happy. I was so relaxed. At this point, I was determined to open my eyes and face my fears. I was determined to trust God and let Him have His way. So, I took a deep breath in and opened my eyes. Just as I reclined my seat so I could relax and reflect more on these happy memories of God’s faithfulness, I heard the captain announce, “It’s been a pleasure serving you today; thank you for flying Delta”.

“What in the World?? We’re in Ohio already? Are you kidding me?” My words almost audible. What happened to all the bumps and turbulence the pilot had talked about? I looked outside the window, and I saw ground!

Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! We’re here, I made it, I made it, I made it!!! Onboard flight 3960!! I made it!
I took time to reflect on flight 3960 later that day. I wondered if the plane really did take off. I almost concluded that the plane never took off, and that I was transported to my destination in a mysterious way

I then realized that God took me out of my fears onboard flight 3960, and helped me focus on what would bring Him praise. He took my ashes away, and gave me beauty. He gave me strength in place of my fear, He gave me gladness instead of mourning and He gave me peace in place of my despair. I will forever be grateful. Let me encourage someone that though your fears might be real, there is a God who is always onboard your flight … give Him your fears!!img_2263

The Perfect Miscommunication

I love teaching and being around my Sunday school children in Church. It is one of the very few places where I can always be myself – nothing to worry about, I don’t have to care how I talk, how I laugh, or how I walk – because it’s fun from start to finish. I know, I know, I know, they sometimes wear me out, and make my voice disappear from having to repeat the same word or phrase twenty times. But in all these, it is always FUN. Believe the Bible when it says there is fullness of joy in God’s presence.

I love these kids and they are absolutely fun to be with. When they talk, I can almost complete their sentences, even the baby talks; until this happened …

Genesis is a sweet lovely 3 (or 4) year old girl. I don’t get to see her regularly since her parents usually go to a different Church. But when she’s around, her smile is one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.

Caycee is another 4-year old princess. She looks quiet, but when you get to know her well, you will find out that she’s not close to being quiet at all. She has the smile of a caring mother, it always brings warmth to the heart.

On this fateful day, our Sunday school class started with so much energy. My kids were getting into the vibes of the day. Shortly into class, Genesis came up to me, and whispered into my ears, “Kaka”, her smile now upside-down. I automatically assumed she wanted her dad. That was my interpretation of KAKA. My first resolution was to calm her down, and make her get back in her seat. I turned to her, wrapping my arms around her, and said “it’s okay Gen-Gen (as she’s usually called), you can sit next to me today and be my assistant. You will see your daddy after Church”.

That did it! She brightened up again as she sat next to me on the floor.

Class continued in full swing now without distractions … until Caycee walked up to me. With her motherly smile, she said “Susu”. Not understanding exactly what she wanted, I immediately assumed this was a tactic to get my attention. I also assumed ‘Susu’ was her slang for ‘sleep’.

I discourage sleeping in Sunday school class, so I brought out my trick card again and had her sit next to me. I had two great assistants!

Few minutes later, I turned to my side to take a glimpse at my first assistant. I was surprised to see tears rolling down Genesis’ eyes. “What’s wrong Gen-Gen, did someone make you cry?”

Again she whispered amid her tears, “Kaka”. I tried to play another card. “Okay, everybody let’s sing for Genesis”. The whole class sang “I’ll give my heart to Jesus” – one of our favorites in Sunday school class. Genesis calmed down while the song was being sung and again, I was happy my trick card worked.

On the other hand was Caycee. She was now pulling and tugging on my dress and saying “SUSU” repeatedly, her motherly smile slowly diminishing with each SUSU that came out of her mouth. I played the same card as I did for Genesis earlier.

Fast forward 15 minutes later, both girls were now seriously and visibly crying. I was a little upset that it caused distractions for the class but I still had ONE more card to play. “OKAY, Genesis and Caycee, let’s go get some juice”. Each one of the girls got a pouch of caprisun.

That was the solution, because they girls calmed down for the rest of the class. They held back their smiles, but at least they were not crying.

Usually at the end of class, I make the children clean up after snack-time. We always sang “Clean up, clean up, everybody do your part, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share“, and the kids always loved that. On this day, everyone got up to do their share except for Genesis and Caycee. I didn’t want to trigger the ‘daddy’ and ‘sleep’ words again, so I left them alone and interestingly, they both sat there on the same spot for the rest of the class. At the end of class, just before the parents walked in to pick up their kids, I had to make the girls get up for closing prayers. What I saw and found was so shocking and surprising. I felt bad for the girls. I pulled both of them up, and behold, they were both wet – yes, pee, wee, peepee … call it what you may – the girls were wet. I felt so bad. I shouldn’t have given them that drink, I should have been able to read their body languages to know they wanted to use the bathroom, I should have …

“Genesis, why didn’t you tell me you wanted to use the bathroom? Caycee, you too?”

Genesis’ mom walked into class at this point. I tried to put words together to explain. “I don’t know what happened to Genesis today, she cried a lot and she kept asking for her dad. I didn’t want to disturb you so I didn’t bother to come get you. She even had a bathroom accident”.

Her mom was as shocked as I was when I found out. “But she’s potty trained!”, she exclaimed.

“I don’t know what happenend”, I continued, “she must have really missed her dad because she kept saying KAKA”.

Genesis’ mom looked at me and laughed out …”Oooooh, KAKA means bathroom” she said, “it means she wants to use the bathroom”.

What? Where I come from, words like that usually mean ‘father’ (baba, dada – for daddy, papa, etc.). I felt even sorrier for Gen-gen. I had even made her drink caprisun when all she wanted was to ‘kaka’. By the way, kaka means poop in Haitian Creole.

I felt ashamed of myself as a teacher that I made assumptions about this word; assumptions that were not true.

Just when I started to apologize to Genesis’ mom, Caycee’s big brother walked in and I had to explain to him what had happened to Caycee too. “I don’t know why Caycee pee-ed in her pants,” I said, “but she kept saying SUSU. Did she not get enough sleep at home?”

You would not believe it but SUSU means bathroom in Swahili.

Where I come from (southern part of Nigeria), SUSU sounds like “sun (pronounced soohn)” which means ‘to sleep’. Caycee’s Susu was not sleep as I assumed, it was Swahili for pee.

I felt bad that I assumed and interpreted what these girls wanted based on my own language background. I should have taken more time to listen, ask questions, and find solutions to their respective issues.

Each time I remember this episode, I always find myself laughing. But the big lesson was learned. Never base interpretations on assumptions.

Listen attentively, ask carefully, and answer wisely. For the fun of abbreviations, this can be shortened to LAACAW 🙂

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It is always fun and humbling when I learn life lessons from these little ones.

And so, today especially, as I reminisce on this story, I would like to appreciate everyone who has stood by me in my KAKA and SUSU moments, – those who listened to me, asked me questions carefully, and answered me wisely – I pray that you will always find someone who is ready to listen to you and help you through your difficult times.

If you are reading this too, you’re always in my thoughts and prayers. God bless!!

 

Reflect on those who have helped you through very difficult moments. Take a minute to make a call, send an email, or even visit them personally to say “thank you”. ‘Kaka’ and ‘susu’ periods are real, and could be very difficult when you go through it alone.

(CibM, October 2016)

Learning to Speak ‘Love’

My boys were having fun counting each morsel of ‘eba’ as I fed them the other night. After a while, I thought it would be more fun to have them count in ‘Yoruba’ language. They had learned to count from one through 10 when they were much younger. It’d been a while they had counted, but I was sure they still remembered very well. They could skip a number or two in between, but they usually do pretty well.

So I turned to my 4-year-old, and said “Oya (common now), count in Yoruba”.

He looked into my eyes and stared for a while. I wondered what he was looking at. I was sure he knew how to count in Yoruba, so I waited. After what seemed like 60 seconds, I repeated myself in case he didn’t hear me the first time.
He smiled, and then suddenly roared, squeezing his face, and throwing his hands up in the air.
I thought to myself, “What in the world?”

And then, almost immediately, I laughed out loudly.

Here’s the reason why I laughed; although they knew how to count (in Yoruba), I don’t think they ever knew that the language they counted in was Yoruba. I had always started out by saying “let’s count ‘ookan’ (one)”. When they hear this, they know to start counting in Yoruba. And so my guess was that he didn’t think he knew how to speak/say the numbers in Yoruba. So, telling them to count in Yoruba was strange, and they had no clue.

But what in the world? I thought to myself. He must have been thinking to himself why I wanted him to count in Yoruba when he didn’t know how to. What I should have said was, “Oya, count ookan.” As far as he was concerned, he had never spoken Yoruba before, but he’d heard myself and my husband communicate in a different language – Yoruba. That language was what he tried to speak when he gave the loud groan, throwing his hands up in the air.

That made me think; Is this what my husband and I look like when we speak this language? Is this how we sound when speak – with groans, and facial impressions that look like we are in child labor? Is this what people look like to us when they speak their own ‘Yoruba’? All he wanted to do was speak the language….

And then I got the message. There are thousands of languages all over the world, and it is hard to pass a message across especially when you don’t speak the language. There are languages that sound like melodious tunes in your ears when in fact the words could be insulting. And there are languages that sound like a bull-dozer coming out from your mouth, or languages that are usually complemented with hand gestures that make it look like you’re about to start a war (Yoruba to be precise), and even some that sound like someone just stole your cookie, even though the words said are prayers for you.

Anyway, the lesson I learned is that different languages sound differently to different people. There is only one language though that cuts across the globe – that sounds and means the same thing – LOVE

When we speak and act Love, even my friends from Kabba, IleOluji, Timbuktu, Indianapolis, and Lokoja understand.
Speak Love, and let your message be heard all over the world!

Yoruba is one of the many tribal languages spoken in the southern part of Nigeria. There are 25 letters in the Yoruba alphabets, with the similar ones characterized by accents or hyphens above or beneath the letters. Some other tribal languages spoken in Nigeria include Hausa, and Ibo)

My Genesis!

I was born and raised in the vibrant and busy city of Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa where I had most (if not all) of my ‘home-training’. At the age of 26, I became a mom to an American-born Nigerian-American. She’s a girl with drama; loads of drama. I have since had two more – boys – full of life and energy. My life hasn’t been the same since.

So here I am, a born-and-bred Lagos-city Nigerian lady, raising three American-born Nigerian-Americans in Indiana, USA.

I often times feel caught in-between cultures and languages as I raise these kids. How can I combine the best of both worlds to make sure these kids are raised right? When should I pull a Nigerian-mother card on the kids, or pull the American one? When and how can I make sure we (myself and the kids) are on the same page when I talk to them in my Nigerian Pidgin English or my native Yoruba dialect?

Not only do I feel caught in-betwen cultures and languages, I also feel caught in between house chores, tasks, my ministry, husband, and even the kids themselves. (phew!)

“What life lessons can come from a bunch of kids’ everyday life, and their CibM”, you may ask?

Wait! I have an answer. God uses the simple and basic things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).

Join me on this journey of the many lessons I learn from being a Caught-In-between-Mom (CibM). Get ready to be blown out of your minds as I share with you the lessons I learn every day from being a CibM. You can thank me later  :).

Welcome to my blog; CibM – Lessons from Motherhood