LESSONS FROM A CHILD

Olaotan is six years old, lively and very eager to learn and so I teach her three times every week for two hours. 

Many times, I’ve wanted to do away with these hours and give them to Botafrik but each time I look at her when she is working on her mathematics, teasing me or throwing me a haiku challenge, I want to teach her for as long as possible. 

I stare at her beautiful face and marvel at the innocence of her childhood. 

It’s not just Ola, there’s also Ameh. 

While Ameh takes his time to know people before getting comfortable, Ola loves everyone at first sight. 

She told me, the first day we met, that I am a beautiful lady. I know I am beautiful but each time she says it to me, I find myself grinning all day. 

These two teach me so much and the one great lesson I learn from them is surprisingly a lesson I taught them, I just am amazed at how they hold on to it. 

Today is for Ola.

I was teaching her today when I noticed she had gotten bored. Knowing how her face brightens up when it’s time for spelling, I proposed a spelling bee. Ola was not pleased. 

“…but Miss Aidee, I want to write down the spellings”.

“This is a challenge, madam”

“Challenge accepted”.

I smiled.

“Spell ‘fractions'”

“F R A C T…I O N…S”, she was writing the spellings in the air.

“Beautiful!” I exclaimed. “Now spell ‘meticulous’. 

I had told her about the word ‘meticulous’ some weeks back and included it in our spellings so I figured she’d get this. Ola tried to spell but each time she tried, she failed.

“I’ll let you write down the spelling”, I told her.

Ola picked up a pen and her jotter and wrote. 

“Is this correct? ”

“No”

After her 12th try, I began to tease her as usual. 

“Give up, Ola”

“No Miss Aidee”, she would say and then curl up on the white plastic chair, book on laps and head buried in it.

“Is this correct?”

“No, it’s missing a letter. You should give up, Ola”.

“No Miss Aidee, I won’t give up”.

I stared as she kept trying and failing. She scolded me for tempting her to give up so I decided to give her an extra thirty minutes and let her try. 

On her thirty-third try, Ola got it right. 

The feeling! I cried, she cried. She finally got it. You know what it feels like to hear the word ‘correct’? You know what it feels like to win? We won! 

My phone battery was down so I could not take photos but I’ll go there tomorrow and show you all what a champ she is. 

“Thank you Miss Aidee”, she told me when I was leaving, “I’m sorry I wasted your time”.

“Waste my time? You never ever waste my time, young lady”.

“Do not forget to eat”, she said as she gave me my goodbye hug.

Tonight, I’m thinking about Ola, that little girl and how I love her so much.

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