For the third consecutive year, I am making preparations to go to law school. This is the final time. I have told my husband and parents that three is the magic number. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. God called Samuel three times. The devil tempted Christ with three tricks. At our naming ceremonies, the call to virtue is made three times. Three is the magic number. If something gets in the way this time, God is telling me something and I’m gonna listen. There’s a path for me but it is not the law. Why my being a lawyer is so important to all three of them, I’ll never quite know.
As for Kofi’s insistence on Law school, I am not complaining about that. More often than not Ghanaian men have issues with their wives having more academic qualifications than they themselves do. He has no intention of going back to school but insists I should not only do the Bachelor of laws but also a Master’s. We’ll see. I’m taking it one degree at a time for now.
I use the phrase Ghanaian men not to single them out as particular offenders but because I cannot speak intelligently about men of other nations. I don’t want to cast the ‘mbarimah suban’ (that’s typical male behaviour’) net only to be shamed by a discovery that Indonesian men are the exception. But I digress. That is not today’s topic.
For a third year I’m readying up for law school. Each year the pressing issues are different. And their scope reminds me how much I have grown in the intervening period. In 2006 when I first started talking about ‘going to law school next year.’ My primary concern was my campus accommodation. Komla, then my boyfriend, was excited that we would be sort of living together. Once I was officially on campus, I would be free to spend nights even weeks at a time living in his house without the parental drama and damage to my reputation that would attend doing same from my parents’ house.
By the time of the first instance of preparation, I was no longer going to be resident. My concerns were now managing my new marriage, school and delivering my baby at exam time. The second year, my concerns were managing school and my young baby and delivering my second baby at exam time. This year my concerns are coordinating and managing my children’s daytime activities, my schoolwork and setting a routine that is healthy and sustainable for my young family. I’ve come a long way, I have. From being excited about living with my boyfriend to being excited about nursery school, it is quite a journey.
Having thought it through deeply, I decided their nanny is wonderful with them. But I am going to be away the whole day every day. It is human nature to take shortcuts and cut corners if nobody ever looks. She is 22 and has a ‘secret boyfriend’. Or at least she thinks it’s a secret. There was a dramatic change in her when the man arrived in her life. She was still good with the kids but lord the attitude! This girl started giving me major ‘I am woman too, not a little girl’ attitude. At first I laughed about it with Kofi. As we say here, it is an adult that we haven’t been before, not a child. The things of girlhood and early womanhood, I have done them all before. I was amused at her and the insolence that is unique to a woman who has just found herself a man. It got out of hand though and eventually fed up with it, I told her that if she had found a boy, I had found a husband, she should watch herself or she would be out of a job and accommodation soon. That ended it and we’re back to normal.
Why tempt her to become a bad person by leaving loopholes too delicious to pass up on using and abusing? Let them go to kindergarten I decided. Then I will be dealing with an institution. They are easier to manage. I need the daycare to be near my folks’ place. They live seven minutes from my university, I live an hour away. The grand plan then is to drop them off in the morning at kindergarten, go to class, pick them up when they close, and drop them off at my folks till I am done.
To give my nanny a skill and certificate of some sort and because she cooks like a dream, I am putting her through catering school. I do it also for the not quite altruistic reason that it keeps her bound to me for 3 years at least. Her school too must be near my parents’ home.
So the final summary of the school time routine goes like this: in the morning I drop them off at kindergarten, Korkor gets off and catches a bus to school, I pick them up when they close, drop them off at Grampa’s, their nanny comes there after she closes to mind them, makes supper for our household and packs it, when I’m done, I pick babies, nanny and supper and we go home. Hah. I’m tired already. The next few years are going to be something else.
I want the boys to start a month before I do. That way, I can spend the first few days with them at school and help them make the transition smoothly. It also means we will have established a working routine by the time I start. Then after I have been at school for a month and settled in, their nanny will start her course.
The plus side of this juggling act, I have decided will be that for the next few years, all my weight battles are sorted. My tummy, still three inches bigger than I want, will shrink and become perfect from pure ‘ahokyer’. I can chuck boring exercise routines out the window and stick with cardio. Kofi snickers that I will be busy and I will come crying to him, ‘I’m tired, I want to quit’ and he will tell me sternly that if I quit he will put ginger in my bottom. ‘Go and do your homework! I’m going to party.’ And the best part, he says, is he knows when he comes back, exhausted and on a high from his partying, I will be awake, studying or as we students say, mowing.
I probably should check if that is still the slang term in student circles. The idea that I am now one of those married, with kids, commuting, ‘mature’ students, I found so blaah in my undergrad days tickles me in a slightly embarrassed way.
It is really an adult that we haven’t been before, not a child. Had I had an inkling of the ‘mature’ studentship ahead of me, I might have been less dismissive when I spoke of how boring they were. I might have made friends with a few, just to get some pointers on how they were holding the balls up. They were for the most part staid, I’ll say in my defense. I only hope that the weight of my responsibilities and the demands on my time don’t turn me into the ‘mature’ student my single classmates use as an example to say, ‘these married students, they are so boring, so old!’