July 1, 2022


A friend sent me a screen shot of a WhatsApp convo he had with his 20-year-old son who schools abroad; the boy wanted to dye his hair and wanted his dad’s advice.

I thought that was cute, considering kids these days, especially those abroad don’t ask their parents for anything except cash when they run out.

But daddy spoilt the gist for me with his response.

‘You should spend your time studying and focusing on your academics. Read your Bible and pray every day’.

Que merde, papa!

The son read the message and there has been radio silence since then…

Weeks after the convo, daddy reached out to me, asking what he did wronged.

I laughed and went, ‘You really don’t know?’

But I also understood where daddy was coming from. Daddy is a staunch Christian who quotes Bible passages the way Marlians sing Opotoyi.

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He had complained that his son wasn’t communicating with him and son; in trying to make dad feel he wasn’t alienating him; asked dad something he hoped he could help give him clarity but daddy bungled it!

I have been there before, (bungling responses to my teenagers) so I understand radio silence.

I told him I would have approached this differently, though. In fact, I reminded him my own hair is dyed. I have carried a golden tint for more than 25 years, right back from when I was at the university.

However, I did not ask my parents for advice. I went to school with black hair and came back with permanent gold-coloured hair.

To date, my parents never asked me why I did it. They put it down to youth (now it’s old age). Also, they tolerated it so long as I did well at school. I didn’t give them reasons to wonder if the gold tint in my hair was messing with my brain.

Secondly, I told daddy I would have asked why the boy wanted the tint? Instead of saying ‘read your bible,’ I would ask the son what his intentions were; ask if he realized he would be easy target to police harassment – he being black; a young man and in a foreign country, too.

I would ask if he realized this could potentially attract the wrong set of people; having his hair dyed; whatever colour, green which I know is a favourite among kids his age, or red or even gold like mine.

I would let him know that it is like inking his body. He may likely attract a gang or group or set of people he doesn’t even want to attract. Would he like that? Is that his intention? If he ticked the boxes right, then he would decide if he truly wanted a dye; a hint of a tint or simply leave his hair running riot.

That would have been my approach. Also, I told daddy he should realize kids now are way different from us when we were their age.

While I didn’t want daddy to feel he did wrong with his approach; I wanted him to realize that though he raised his son in a Christian home, church and all; ‘read your Bible,’ falls short as an answer if he doesn’t provide adequate reasons to live right.

When my son turned 18, my partner took him out to a bar with friends. He showed him the different types of alcoholic drinks available. They told him to take a few sips, gave him a few tips on managing being tipsy; engaged his thoughts on other manly issues I had no ideas about and on another occasion; gave him brandy and whiskey.

I was anxious. I didn’t want my son turning into a drunk or something worse. But then when he explained to me he didn’t want my kid getting drunk in a foreign land; misbehaving and running riot like many kids leaving home for the first time were wont, I calmed down.

He also bought him condoms. Told him never to be caught without one.

I bristled at this.

But here’s the thing. I was his age once. Indeed, I had been raised in a nice and decent home as well and when I began to have sex; I didn’t go to my parents to tell or ask their advice. Instead, I listened to friends.

Our children will do the same. They would, at certain ages, depend more on advice from friends than what we tell them. It is unlikely we will be talking about condoms and sex and drinks and boys/girls because to us parents; these are sacred topics.

Topics our children would even swear are far from their thoughts. It’s a lie! They are simply embarrassed by it.

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But get an uncle or aunty to talk about it with them; and they come alive with tales ‘their friends’ engaged in. I would rather have my kid turn to a trusted uncle or aunty than a reckless friend his age.

Very unlikely our sons will tell us when they begin to have sex; our daughters will also hide same from us. If you choose to believe the opposite, it’s okay. But ask yourself, did you go reporting to your parents when you began to have sex?

Or began to take alcohol?

And in an age where nemesis catches up with young boys over their reckless youthful behaviors; I would rather have a son that has condoms in his pocket; than one who is nailed with a rape charge 20 years down the line. I would rather have a son equipped with condoms; than one who impregnates a girl he hardly recognized the morning after.

So would I let my kid dye his hair, go boy!

Will I buy him condoms?

Yes, I will!

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