(Is the title a Nigerian parent’s worst nightmare or what?)
Solomon Sydelle’s last TTTEC topic was about a girl who met her boyfriend of 15 months at a club and is now afraid to tell her mother where she met him because her mother doesn’t know she goes clubbing. Friends that I have met through this blog have asked if me if I go clubbing and well, back in the day, I could always answer in the affirmative. (Can I still be Good Naija Girl if I was once a a regular frequenter of clubs????)
I understand the reluctance to keep your parents from knowing you go to clubs, but I don’t like to take risks and if something bad were to happen (God forbid!) downtown in my city, I’d want my parents to know that they should be concerned because their firstborn baby girl is out there shaking it on the dance floor to Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough for Me (Oops! Did I accidentally-on-purpose date myself?). So I voluntarily used to let my parents know where I was going, who I was going with and I provided the phone numbers of my friends’ parents (we didn’t have cell phones back then). My parents never asked for this info but I did this more for my own well-being. When I got a cell phone I encouraged my parents to call me whenever they were worried but they rarely did: I was the one who would call them to see if they were ok.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking that they didn’t worry constantly about my nighttime activities (and disapprove of them). Both of my parents are averse to the idea of clubbing. Many times my dad told me that it’s all about not taking undue risks: if someone gets into trouble downtown at 3:00pm, no one wonders why s/he was out there in the first place…at 3:00am it’s another matter (you know how our people like to say in retrospect “Ah! If only s/he didn’t go to that club!” Of course s/he’d be fine if s/he didn’t go to the club…but if s/he works in a grocery store and is showing up for his/her 3:00pm shift when things go wrong, no one’s going to say “Ah! If only s/he had skipped work today.” (Ok, some people would still say that, but one sounds more ludicrous than the other.)
I thought I came up with the perfect response when my parents would express concern about my nocturnal activities (aka every time I stepped out of the house dressed to party): I told them that they had done a good job raising me, that in fact they had done all they could do and now they just had to trust that I’ll remember all that I have been taught. Then I learned that it wasn’t my conduct that they worried about, but the conduct of others out there, and I just didn’t (and still don’t) have a good response to that. Although I’m glossing over it here, we had many tense moments over my insistence on going to clubs and their displeasure with the idea. But my parents never forbade me from leaving the house so even though I could taste the disapproval in their expressions, I still went. Maybe today they can say they respect me for having strong convictions (or, I guess they could use it as yet another example of what a disobedient child they raised; though in my defense they never said “Good Naija Girl: you cannot go to a club”!).
I didn’t have an alcoholic drink until I was 21, by choice (the legal age limit to drink in my part of the world is 18 or 19, depending where you are). My parents have always had alcoholic beverages in the house so it wasn’t lack of access that prevented me, just lack of interest. I don’t like the smell of beer or wine, and just never cared for the stuff (I still don’t). My first drink and my first club experience happened on the same night, and my mom drove my friends and I to the club (the only time I recall her being part of such a thing). My drink of choice for many years after that was called sex on the beach…hilarious for one such as I. It’s a girly, fruity drink, with a vodka base.
In the last 10 years I have been to many clubs and danced the night away. I think the average number of drinks I have per excursion is probably less than 1 because for me, all I need to have a good time in a club is good music (also: I’m cheap and the prices clubs charge for drinks is ridiculous!). I can also count on one hand the number of times I’ve danced with members of the opposite sex; I’m known among my friends for preferring to dance on my own. For me, clubbing is truly about dancing to the music, nothing more.
One of my best friends met her husband of five years in a club, and my other best friends (who have been married for eight years) can credit our weekly visits to danceclubs as a factor in their getting to know each other and deciding to take their relationship to the next level. To me, not everyone who goes to a club is a bad person. However, I know that clubs are not considered good places for Christians to be seen, and a majority of the music and catchy beats preach messages that Christians definitely don’t endorse or stand for. I struggle with wanting to enjoy a night out dancing and wanting to behave in a way that is God-honouring. Most of the time I make the wrong choice. Do Christian clubs exist?
For obvious reasons, I have never understood the concept of keeping your activities a complete secret from your parents. I’m sure most of my friends thought I was crazy for telling my parents that I was going to a venue where I would be drinking or be in contact with people who drank, but that’s what worked for me. I guess it helps that I’ve never been drunk and have no intention of ever drinking to the point of inebriation. My brothers definitely do not share the same philosophy I do, and I know how much I used to worry when I’d see them getting ready to go to the club, not knowing how many places they’d be going to that night, how they planned to get there and get home and what would transpire. Now that I don’t live with them, it’s only when I call home and find out that Brother #1 left home at 10pm and it’s now the morning of the next day and no one has heard from him that I start to panic. Parenting is not easy and because of that, we owe our parents at least one or two reassuring details…what do you think?
Also, I know some people would rather die than tell their (Nigerian) parents that they drink, go to clubs, have a tattoo, etc. Is it not wanting to disappoint your parent or something else that is stopping you from telling the truth? I do hope that no one genuinely fears their parents’ reaction were they to discover an activity that they currently keep secret.