A peep into how a typical Nigerian home operates is a glance at natural love in its raw form, absolute family values, the craze for child protection, pampering in flesh and blood and dependence conflicting with independence. In these, those caught in the web are last borns.
As the last child in a Nigerian family, my parents were of the middle class, educated, exposed and lovely. I grew up to see my older siblings doing everything for me and l felt really good about it. My welfare was everybody’s concern. My education was fun because my siblings were eager to assist in assignments, extra lessons and other possible bits of help.
From age 9, l started joining my sister and mom in the kitchen, but my only task was to unwrap seasoning cubes which is how l learned of the number of seasoning cubes needed for a pot of soup.
From age 12- 15, l upgraded to cutting periwinkle, pounding pepper and crayfish and washing dishes and clothes. Obviously, l was in secondary school and almost finishing.
However, at 18, l was practically far from maturity. I did not know what l wanted in life. I was unable to think for myself and take the smallest of decisions like when to visit the Barber’s shop. I grew up with the mentality of absolutely depending on my parents and siblings for everything.
In 2008 when l first sat for JAMB examination, my mother decided l study Law at the University of Uyo. After failing to secure the admission, my brother took his turn to decide the course l should apply but then l lost the admission. My neighbour also suggested a course l should study, luckily l had admission and l grew to like it.
The most interesting part is that in all three attempts at UTME and post UTME, l knew nothing about the registrations as my sister did register all for me and would give me the print out only on examination day. During one of the post UTME, my mother brought food and waited all day for me to eat. This shows that as the last child, everything should be done for me including not being hungry in school.
Although in the first couple of weeks in the University, l was no more comfortable with the status quo. My siblings began insisting that l take responsibilities, l was slow to adapt to the new life of independence, being that l never really had the freedom to always take certain decisions.
Before l knew, l was 23 and still battling with what l truly wanted. The idea of making money was strange to me, as l felt l was too young to learn how to make money. Of course, l was still being given and fed. I would often marvel my peers who worked and earned good money and I just lost those simple virtues and independence of the mind.
Breaking out of that last-born shackles was not easy as my parents and siblings at times misconstrued my actions. They protested against some things that l did in school. My mother could not trust my ability to choose what was right for me and now the scars of being treated as the last child have remained in me.
I am still battling with certain things, for instance, l don’t know how to cook and saving money is a tough decision. What l previously enjoyed as a child and teen are what l regret in my late 20’s, Obviously, this is a similar story of many other last children in Nigerian homes, especially those that were born in the ’90s.
The last born treatment fails to develop some productive virtues in our youths. It makes room for psychological immaturity in adults and altogether counters productiveness in an individual’s growth.
Yes, it is a show of love but in the long run, regrettable.