My mom would step on the paper and I would sigh and then go to sleep. At least, I had an assurance that no one would talk about whatever offence I had committed, ranging from using my food money to buy unnecessary toys, playing outside till maghrib with the neighbors’ kids or going to Madrasah late; non of which my dad tolerated.

One day, after I had slept, my mum stayed up till my dad returned. She already told me that night that I wouldn’t get away that time. I thought it wasn’t going to happen as I had not only done my trick but also persuaded her not to tell on me. But no! The ‘eyelash’ thing didn’t work and that was like the last time I did it. All those while, I never told my parents about it. Why would I even tell on myself anyways? But I think I told my brother and sister, just in case they were in trouble and needed a way out of getting lashed. 😑 bad sister yeah? 😖😖

Things changed like they always do. We started attending a different Madrasah which used to be at night. Though we still attended the evening madrasah, I was withdrawing bit by bit from the latter already. So my brother kept on with two while I just faced one – the night Madrasah. It was safe and my dad knew most of the cleric there but their style of teaching was a bit different.

On Wednesdays (if I am) we listen to lectures by one of the brothers that taught us. They talked about different topics ranging from salat, obedience to parents, relations with people and all that. It was in this Madrasah I was being called “Iya Uche (cat)” as in one of my previous posts. One day however, they did talk about puberty and salat.

According to what was said by the Alfa, “if you are yet to attain puberty, there is no sin recorded for you whenever you committed a crime”; which was what I picked from that day’s lecture. As i wasn’t matured yet, i was one of those it was applicable to. I just kept thinking of it and it seemed so dazing. Like I get to lie and not get purnished by Allah?

That night I skipped Isha (the night salat) and when my mum asked “Aisha shoti kirun – Aisha, have you observed your salat?” I said yes! Whow yeah? Just one lecture and I had already swayed to another land. I started calculating how many years I would have left before I attained puberty. I was going to be free from obligations for a while and it sounded cool to me. That habit of skipping salat, lying and stuff didn’t last long coz my conscience and forgetfulness soon took over but at least I still swayed!

Looking back at those times later on, I just thought, “one has to be very careful with kids and teaching them things about the deen and beyond. They pick up the slightest of things and before you’ld realize it, it could have gotten out of hand. The Mallam who taught us about puberty and salat never knew there was one lazy girl waiting for such so she would unleash her unknown whims of ‘no obligatory acts till I am mature’. My mum didn’t always ask me what new thing I learnt from my friends which could have perhaps brought about my telling her of the ‘eyelash-in-a-paper-thing’ and so many others like that.

Children are the most sensitive of the human species and they need whoever is taking care of them to be as sensitive as possible as well. Do not let your children get trained from outside. Rather, be their trainer and confident. Be their friend first, then their teacher. Be soft in your speeches to them before you introduce a bit of harshness, if you would at all. And then, make lots of duaa, for that is one key thing in keeping the light of iman in their hearts as they journey through childhood. May Allah in His infinite mercy assist us all, as parents, guardians, siblings, folks, etcetra, in “catching them young”.

I hope it was worth your time.

Aisha Harun