I Never Knew My Father’s Death Would Affect My Marriage

The day started like any other with a few footsteps and whispers and the sound of my alarm clock. Of course, I didn’t get up. Do you know a single teenager who willingly gets out of bed? So instead, I tossed and turned. I buried my face beneath the blanket. 

Just five more minutes, I begged. All I need is five more minutes.

A few hours later, I would regret the way I passed that morning. I would regret how I wasted those precious minutes. And while I still wanted and needed five more minutes, I no longer wanted them for sleep.

I wanted them for me. I wanted them for us.

You see, before the sun set on this day, November 16, 1996, things changed my feelings changed. Life, as I knew it, changed. Because this was the day my father “passed out.” This was the day my father lost consciousness and collapsed. This was the day his brain bled and his heart stopped. This was the day my father slipped into a coma and an unresponsive state  one from which he would never return.

And while I was immediately aware of his absence and how his death meant he would never hug or help me again, and that I would never hear him talk, burp, or laugh again I never realized how his death would impact me later in life. I never considered how his passing would color every action and interaction of my adult life.

Of course, it started simply enough. In the days and weeks following his death, little things changed. I began sleeping less, reading less, writing less. I was singing less and drawing less all hobbies I enjoyed as a 12-year-old.

I pulled away from my family and friends. Why? Because I wanted to be alone. I needed to be alone, and I knew that distance would protect me. My heart couldn’t be broken if it wasn’t attached.

When I began dating, I kept myself sheltered and stoic. I didn’t wear my emotions, or feel any feelings. I didn’t let anyone see my vulnerabilities. 

Despite my best efforts, love came. Love wormed its way into my icy, guarded heart, but for many months, I refused to believe it. I refused to feel it and fear kept me from acknowledging it. Fear kept me from saying, “I love you, too.”

Eventually things worked themselves out. I got married and  started a family of my own, but death still colored our days and darkened our nights. It dampened our celebrations and special occasions, as I was hurt by the memories we could have and should have been making. I was haunted by the moments my father missed and by things yet to come.

You see, my father died when he was young less than 4 months after his 39th birthday. Now that my husband and I are in our thirties, the fear is back.  Every day, I worry he (and we) are living on borrowed time.

That said, there is an upside to all of this. I suppose my fear is not all for naught. Because of my father’s death, I live life to the fullest. All day, every day. 

What’s more, my father’s death has helped me to let go of the little things. It has helped me to curb my tongue when I want to scream. It has reminded me a glass of spilled milk isn’t the end of the world, nor is an oven of burnt bacon. His passing has enabled me to see opportunity in every situation. Losing my dad has put the value of every minute, and every moment, in perspective.

I never go to bed without a hug, a kiss, an “I love you” and/or “I’m sorry.”

So while I fear pain, I fear sorrow. I fear grief and desperately fear loss. I also fear not being, not living, and not enjoying life to the fullest. But not loving with each and every bit of my heart? Well, that’s my biggest fear of all.

This article was written by Kim Zapata for babble.com

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What Can We Do To End Child Labor in Nigeria?

UNICEF defines Child labor is work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and deprives them of opportunities for schooling and development. According to the International Labour Organization, the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include being street vendors, beggars, car washers or watchers and shoe shiners. Others work as apprentice mechanics, hairdressers and bus conductors while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands.

Major causes of child labor are widespread poverty, rapid urbanization, breakdown in extended family affiliations, secondary school drop out rates, and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children.

Although the main cause of child labor is Poverty, illiteracy also plays a role in Child labor. There are a lot of mothers on Lagos road that are seen begging with their children that are supposed to be in school. In the northern part there are a lot of cases of underage children being given up for marriage.

While some find themselves working because they become the breadwinner in their family either due to the death of their parents or illnesses beyond their control.  In Nigeria the people that are most affected by child labor are girls.

Just last month  16 children were rescued in the state from the various places where they were being used as laborers instead of their being in school in Ekiti State. Recently a 16-year old orphan nearly lost her life following a heavy bleeding consequent upon an incomplete abortion sponsored by her benefactor  where she was working as his house maid.

Just last month also a pregnant mother of two reportedly beat her eight year old house help until the girl died. You would wonder what can an eight year old child that probably can’t even take care of herself do in terms of housework? There are so many more stories that we have not even heard of.

The devastating part to child labor is the fact that it has long lasting effects on the children. Most of this children because they did not get to have adequate education end up as illiterates and drop outs doing odd jobs with no stable income. While most of the girls end up as prostitutes or teenage mothers due to the exposure that they experience everyday, the boys end up as street urchins terrorizing and causing havoc all over the place.

The effect of child labor does not only affect the child, it affects the society in general.  It is already hard enough in the country for people who had access to education not to talk of those without adequate education.

It would shock you to know that in Nigeria there are already laws laid down to protect children called the Child Rights Act that states that:

Buying, selling, hiring or otherwise dealing in children for purpose of begging, hawking, prostitution or for unlawful immoral purposes are made punishable by long terms of imprisonment. Other offences considered grave include sexual abuse, general exploitation which is prejudicial to the welfare of the child, recruitment into the armed forces and the importation /exposure of children to harmful publications. It further preserves the continued application of all criminal law provisions securing the protection of the child whether born or unborn.

The Act mandates parents, guardians, institutions and authorities in whose care children are placed, to provide the necessary guidance, education and training to enable the children live up to these responsibilities.

The Child Right Act (CRA) considers a child as a person below the age of 18 years (SECTION 21 of the CRA). It also states that a child’s best interest should be of utmost priority in any case involving a child (section 1 of the CRA 2003).

Even with the law already laid down it is a wonder that child labor is still very rampant in Nigeria infact you can’t step out of your house in the morning without seeing a child begging or hawking on the road while their counterparts are in school. The question we then have to ask ourselves as a community is what can we do to help and how can we stop child labor in Nigeria?

The first step to putting an end to Child Labor is for us to realize that it is not just up to one person, we are all responsible for putting an end to it. Although we have laws prohibiting child labor in Nigeria, child labor is still on the increase because there is no enforcement and defaulters are not made to face the wrath of the law.


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