Tuesday, 14 February 2012

FEBRUARY 14, HMN......


February 14, Valentine’s Day, hmn….. Lovers’ day, hmn….. A day anticipated by all, both adults and teenagers, even preteens and grannies, lolzzz, everyone wants love. Everyone wants to have a Valentine, if not known before the day; a surprise Valentine would be appreciated and simply perfect to save the day. Once it is first of February, anxiety and preparations takes the next gear, every girl wishes to have a Valentine’s date, while a lot of guys would love to abscond.
I remember High School and University days, Valentine’s days were highly anticipated days, even teachers and lectures used to realize that students have lost concentration and their thoughts and attentions were on something else, everyone anticipating a gift for either the sake of it or the “I love you” significance of it. Popular girls in school gave boys the specifications of gift they can receive from them, while other girls hoped a secret admirer shows up to make their day and “players” schemed a way to get into a fight with the less important girls in their lives and escaped giving them gifts. Val’s day for a lot of teens is usually about getting gifts, any at all, from cupcakes to Mars chocolate bar, to flowers from the lawn, to Sure roll-on deodorant, anything at all, just save the day for me, please…….
During my High School days, I never used to expect any gifts, but trust me, I made myself useful, did free unsolicited reporting for the entire block, knowing who got what from who and when and how the gift was delivered, lolzzzz…. Amebo was my second name; it was so bad that I used to come up with my version of “Forbes Top Val’s Gift of the Year”. I asked a friend how her valentine days were in high school and got an epic reply. She said “hmn, I’m ashamed of myself; those days are that I did not know anything. I did not hear of valentine until my fifth year, when I finally heard, I still thought it was a celebration in the Catholic Church”. I could not help the laughter, it was too big a joke for me to ignore. I asked another friend and he was like “over wake up was disturbing us then oooo, both boys and girls; most boys picked up fights when it was close to Val’s and make up after the day. To Val anyone then, you had to sneak out of school to buy a gift and that means you are a die hard, you must be over bold. Anywaz, teachers discovered that students were using that day as an opportunity to engage in all sorts of immoralities and sex, so it was banned”.
Valentine Roses

This now leads to the question, what exactly is Val’s day and Love?
Valentine’s Day is a day that has been dedicated for lovers to show love to one another. It sounds like a regular thing, but it has a day dedicated for it.
Love is a feeling of affection felt by one person towards another person. It is that feeling that makes you care for another and want to spend all you time with them, share all you have and help the person out in case of any problem. Love is a beautiful thing from God that He has for His creation and expects us to have for Him and others.
Love has been confused to be sex, but is sex really love?
Sex is now being used as a manipulative tool, love is not manipulative, if sex was love, then, there would be no rape; if sex was love, so every product of it would be wanted, so, sex should not make you feel cheated, used or dumped, love would not; love would not make you feel any self-hate, guilt or hatred towards anyone, but sex could; If sex was love, there would no STDs or laws against sex and parents frowning against it or moral castings against it or punishment when caught/discovered having sex or societal disapprovals at a certain stage or prison sentences and disgrace following this act under certain circumstance.

So, this means sex is not love and not a part of Valentine’s Day! God is love and He created the world with everything that we need to survive, created us in His own image and took His time to make us all beautiful. If sex outside marriage is fornication, this implies that it not part of love showing or sharing and so not a part of Valentine’s Day. Love gives, so exchange of gift is a part of Valentine’s Day, love makes the heart merry, so going out, sharing some food and drinks, cracking jokes and having some sweet conversations is a part of Valentine’s Day.

In all, have a love filled valentine’s day and do not forget there are some people who would be glad to have someone smile at them, that might be the only gift you will give a beggar on the street, I stray kid or even your domestic help. Valentine is about love, so show some love, just because…… and please accept my token of love. xoxo.......

Valentine Flowers Chocolates

Friday, 10 February 2012

So What If I Am A Teenager?!

I did not realize what it meant to be a teenager at first, I felt it was just a coincidence that the ages between 13 and 19 ended with  -teen until I did something one day and an aunt said “oh, she is now a teenager’’. I wondered what that meant, but I could not be bothered, until I noticed I wanted to do things my own way, I wanted to act like an adult, I wanted the responsibilities of my life and actions to be left to me, I just wanted to be treated and accepted as an adult. More than ever, I wanted to be noticed, I wanted to create an identity for myself, I become a lot more self-conscious, I wanted to choose a click of friends that could be easily noticed, I wanted to be one of the most popular girls in school, I wanted to have the best school shoes, school bag and wrist watches, I wanted to be admired by everyone; then I realized that truly there was a change going on inside of me, that was when I realized I was really in the adolescence stage of my life, I was a TEENAGER.
The teenage period is the period that falls between the ages of 13 to 19, it coincides with the onset of puberty i.e. the period the body changes from that of a baby to that of an adult, it is the period of adolescence. At this stage, teenagers would like to be treated as adults, but adults would not accept them as one of them, adults see teenagers as grown babies, hence the conflict between adults and teenagers and the rebellious disposition of teenagers towards adults. Teenagers discover themselves at this stage as their intellectual capability develops more rapidly, hence, their urge for adventure to discover life and try living their fantasies. This leads a lot of teenagers to want to engage in activities which are contrary to societal norms, ethics and values. At this stage, there is a crave for independence, making teenagers take positions and views different from those of their parents and other adults, but act in conformity with their peer no matter how unconventional the act may be.
Some psychologists refer to the teenage period as a period of “storm and stress” because at this stage, a teenager undergoes physical, social and psychological developmental changes. Their bodies grow in to that of an adult, they feel more comfortable in the midst of their peers where they find social acceptance, carving a niche for themselves and form their ideologies based on conversations made within their peer groups, believing it is the perfect ideology to life. These ideologies may or may not work, leading to the confusion of many teenagers, but the because a lot of teenagers do not like the way adults treat them, they do not ask question and decide either consciously or unconsciously to learn from their mistakes, making this period “stormy and stressful”.
A friend once said and I quote: “Sincerely, teenagers are difficult to deal with; we make and mar our lives at this point and without a proper leadership and guidance, we tend to make a lot of wrong decisions. I have had my share of the trouble and it took me a while to my clear straight and clear.’’  After listening to her say this, I wondered how many more adults have this kind of story to tell and above all, I wondered how many more teenagers would say this by the time they are adults.
So, how can a teenager go through this stage without encountering storms and stresses? We will be sharing this in the next article.

Teenagers and Valentine, what can I do as a Parent?

 Although as a African parent, you might want to frown at your teenager having a boyfriend or girlfriend or have a valentine, but the truth is your teenager is exposed to a lot of peer pressure that he/she could easily loose his/her identity. So, what would you do to ensure your teenager does not get hurt during this valentine period? Parents can use Valentine's Day to start important conversations with their teens or pre-teens that can make them understand the meaning of dating and relationships -- not just now but throughout their lives. This is a period teenagers would be ready and willing to talk about their understanding of love, dating, relationship and valentine’s day.

The truth is teenagers are inquisitive and adventurous, with the thought of being adults, they would want to be adults on Valentine’s Day too, go on a date with someone special or not, at least not to feel left out on Val’s day and have a story to share when friends are sharing theirs. Teenagers spend more time with their pairs than with their parents, hence a greater belief in their peers, even though the peers may not know any better in case they know as much. Young lovers are among the keenest age groups planning to lose their virginity on Valentine's Day, Feb 14, according to a survey released by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, 07/02/2012.  The Internet, social media and cell phones have opened up new avenues for improper, even illegal behavior, among teenagers This is a thing a lot of parents would not want to read, so how do you protect your teenager from breaking your heart?
·        Know your teen's friends. "As children become tweens and teens, it's more important than ever for parents to know their children's friends," Landers said. "This is the age when what peers think and say are a teen's top influence. Teens value their friends the most. You must know them.
"You may have to step in and help the child reduce his or her relationship with a peer who you think is negative or damaging. That's very difficult. It's easier to promote positive relationships early and nourish those relationships through the teen years."

·        Set family expectations early and review often. It's never too early to start talking about your family's unique values and expectations. Start talking about dating and relationships as early as age 9 or 10, no later than 12 -- before the first date is even on the horizon, so that your teenage would not be misinformed outside and hold it superior to your parental advices.
"Your child needs to know what activities you consider appropriate and where the absolute out-of-bounds lines are," Be sure to look for 'teaching moments' -- such as a USA congressman who was forced to resign after sending a provocative photo. These events become lessons in the bad things that can happen when actions aren't thought through. You can discuss incidents that are in the news, behavior of TV stars, scenes in movies, anything that will inspire conversation and help you reinforce your values message.

·        Take a deep breath and discuss sexual situations your teen might encounter. "Remind them that oral sex is sex. There seem to be some teenage and adult misunderstandings about that". Be sure your teens understand that they have the right to say no." You might even role play potential situations so your child learns how to say no, or what to do if he or she feels pressured.
·        Let your teenager understand that sex is not love! There are several valentine’s days to come in future when he/she would have being mature enough to know the real meaning of valentine’s day and love and would have truly understood and what he/she really wants without being under any pressure or influence.
The teenage years are an important time for any child. He or she is taking steps toward adulthood and making lifetime memories: first date, first crush, and first love. "Hopefully, they'll have fond memories of the caring, involved parent who watched over them during this time as well." This forms a part of their fond memories and family values that can become trans-generational which you would be glad you are involved in it.


Who really am I as a teenager?

I remember my days in the junior secondary when Procter & Gamble used to come and market their Always Sanitary Pads. It used to be embarrassing been called to the school hall to be lectured about puberty, its signs and body changes toping it will with the menstrual cycle, all that comes with it and given free sample sanitary pads as souvenirs, eww...., that was so gross, especially when I had not even had my first period.  
That was simply taking the embarrassments to a height; imagine going to the school hall without your school bag and having to carry the sanitary pads in your hands with some manual about your reproductive system works, lolzzz….. I remember  begging my mum to buy me a bra because everyone one was wearing it and dint have one, but she insisted on me wearing the slips she buys for me until my God-mother came some day with a training bra, yay!!! I was so glad; I started feeling like I’m gradually becoming an adult.  I remember having a crush on one fine boy in my class, an epic crush I must say, we used to smile at each other even though we never used to speak to each other, but had our best friends as friends that served as middle men, lolzzzzz….. I remember how I used to spend several minutes infront of the mirror, trying to see what my body looked like, if my curves were formed and my face was pretty enough, because being a bit pretty was way below the needed standards. Good old funny days I must say, wanting to feel, act and be regarded as an adult, but really was I an adult?
Who really is a teenager and why do we act the way we do, always anxious, wanting to be seen, heard and popular, why are we like that? The teenager is also referred to as an adolescent, with ages between 13 and 19, we are no longer children, but we are developing into adults. Because we are in this transition stage, character-wise, we are usually moody, insecure, argumentative, impulsive, impressionable and at times, reckless and rebellious. Physically, we are having odd growth spurts, acne, odd sleeping pattern and we could have snobbish behavior at times. Ouch, why all these negatives, does that mean the teenage phase is a terrible phase? The answer is NO!!! It just happens during that phase because we are yet to be defined, we are trying to find an identity for ourselves and we need to establish our social standing and we are at this stage developing intellectually, more than when we are younger. At this stage, we have our hormones raging, we naturally have the energy to do a lot of explorations and adventure, but we have no experiences to give us the needed guiding wisdom, hence, we get it wrong a lot of times.
Researchers found that at the end of childhood, the brain undergoes significant changes during this stage, our brains at this stage have been found to be very unique with the sections responsible for planning and nerve connectivity, making it difficult for us to read social situations and other people’s emotion, hence, we fail to see the consequences of our actions, we really don’t give a flip what others think about us, just let us be. Research has also shown that the brain at this stage has less activity in the area responsible for motivation and risk assessment, hence our indulgence in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, smoking habit and illicit sex, all for the experience since our brain is down in that section.
Since research has told me I don’t have to feel guilty for some of the bad trait I kind of want to exhibit at times, my brain and nature have to be blamed for that, my question is, do I have to be a terrible teenager? The answer is NO! Why? Because if teenage hood is preparing me for adulthood, that means the habits I develop as a teenager would be my habit as an adult and if they are morally wrong habit, I will be less likely to be a responsible adult.
I really want to be a responsible and successful adult that my parents and sibling would be proud of, how do I achieve that? Research said the part of my brain responsible for self-control is developed at this stage, then, I think, I better put it to use. I need to think of the kind of adult I want to grow and become, look for adults like that around me, make friends with them, make them my mentor, hopefully, they will have my time and answer my questions when I’m confused and guide me with their experience since I’m yet to have them.
Seriously speaking, the teenage period is an interesting and delicate period, yes, I had all the fun I wanted as a teenager, especially since I had little responsibilities to tie me down, but I had to have boundaries, because I had adults that I dint not like what their lives looked like around me and did not want to end up like them. I dint want to end up a gambler, a cigarette, alcohol or drug addict, especially seeing some elderly guy on my street that looks so fine but acts retarded because of his alcohol and cocaine addiction, God forbid I be like him.  I wanted to grow up looking beautiful with a career and not just a job like some elder cousins of mine, I had to become their leach and they accepted me that way, took me to places I know I could not afford and say what a good life I could have if I can just exercise a bit of self-control and discipline. Yes, they did something wrong when they were younger which they told me about and they wish I never make their mistakes. So, I had my fun, learnt my lessons and now, I’m so grown…… 


My name is Ovie Arhore, currently a research student at the University of Technology, delft, Netherlands. I grew up in Maza-Maza, Lagos, Nigeria, in a family of 9, 6 sister and my parents. My family was not so comfortable, my parents could not afford to send me to a good secondary, but they wanted me to be educated, so, I went to Amuwo Odofin Secondary School, a government secondary that lacked teachers from the junior secondary school through the senior secondary school. During my years there, we lacked teachers in important subjects like mathematics, integrated science, chemistry, further mathematics, etc., we were taught some of these subjects once in a while by serving youth corps members posted to the school.

My dream as a teenager.

Being in a family that was struggling to survive and an environment that did not encourage or inspire you to dream, I knew I could be better, I knew there was a silver lining somewhere that can be within my reach. I got inspired by two uncles that are university trained engineers, they live comfortable lives in beautiful environment and I thought to myself, I can be like them one day. I decided to defy the odds I found myself in as a result of my secondary school, I resolved to study hard and home school myself. At the end of my Junior Secondary examination, I had 5distinction and 7credits and got applauded by everyone around considering the kind of secondary I was in, but I knew I could do better. During my first year in the senior secondary school, been aware of the kind of school I was in, I continued home schooling myself, got all the text books needed; bought some, collected the others from past secondary school student, gathered all the SSCE and GCE past question papers I could get, with the aim of writing the Government Certificate Examination (GCE) at the end of my SS2. I did as planned and read most of my text books. The GCE result was release and I had distinction in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, with credit of most of the other subjects.
This result was encouraging, but I was still worried about how I will pay for my studies in the university, so someone advised that if I could get a very good WAEC result, I might get a scholarship to study in the university. That advice made me to increase my reading pace, reading all my textbooks from front to back over and over and over again that at the end, my WAEC result was: Mathematics-A1, Physics-A1, Chemistry-A1, Biology-A1, Agricultural Science-A1, Economics-A2, Further Mathematics-A3 and English-C5, while attending a government secondary school in Lagos
The next step was getting an admission into a university; I wrote JAMB, chose University of Lagos (UNILAG) for Chemical Engineering and was admitted on the first batch of students into the university.

Keeping my dream alive as a teenager.
I knew I had to work hard to achieve my dream, but I also know that evil communication corrupts good manners. The first thing I did was to select my friends, I ensured my friends were people of like dreams which made us encourage one another and also compete to be the best. I knew I had to make my parents happy irrespective of how determined I was to achieve dreams, so, I kept on doing the chores allotted to me, running errands for them even when it was not convenient and respect them at all times. I had to ignore a lot of outdoor activities in order to get most time indoors and study, so, I planned my schedule to accommodate a minimal time to socialize and not totally alienate myself from the world. Like other teenagers, yes I got attracted to some girls around me and had sexually urges too, at least to show I am biologically okay, but the urges were minimal as I was a virgin and too busy with my books. I once tried to ask a girl out, but she humiliated me in front of my friends, lolz, one day I will never forget and I noticed that it was an ephemeral affection, which I could not have sustained; I would not have had her time because she was not my priority at that time and thank God for my kind of friends, girl talk was not a part of our discussions.
At the end of my 1st year, I got a scholarship from one of the oil and gas companies in Nigeria and also got Flour Mills scholarship, all based on merit. These scholarships made my life easier and I was able to apply in the first place because I had a fantastic WAEC result which people don’t take serious. There was also an exam, which I was successful in before I was awarded the scholarship. Through the help of the scholarship, I was able to go through the university as it paid my school fees, bought my books and through some self-discipline, I was able to spread it into tokens to serve as monthly allowances all through my stay in the university. There were times I felt bad and ask myself, why I was so much disadvantaged financially compared to these new found friends whom their parents gave expensive cars to drive to school, while I was still looking for how to survive the month; but I was able to carry on because self-pity solves no problem but instead, with hard work, you can always achieve many things. Nothing good comes easy. When people see me today, they say I am enjoying life without knowing what I had gone through while growing up. Your success tomorrow has a lot to do with what you put into life today, so if you think education is so difficult, then you have to be ready to face the consequence of your actions in the future. A lot chose to go into internet fraud which I do not see as an option, just imagine what could happen to your hopes, dreams and aspirations when you get caught.
Living the Dreams.
With all glory to God, my hard work and determination to graduate from the university from rewarded with a brilliant result, I was glad I had finally become an engineer. The next hurdle was to get a job and practice as one. I got my first job while I was still serving as a youth corps member, but it was a banking job, not entirely satisfied, but glad that I could put food on my table and live up to my responsibilities. I worked with two banks before I finally got my job as an engineer with an oil company, I cannot describe the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that gave me, my joy knew now bounds when my dreams finally came true. It made me realize that truly, things might not play out the way you might have envisaged, but eventually, with patience and hard work, god will bless your labor and fulfill your dreams.
My advice to teenagers, although there are many distractions and discouragement out there, please have your life dreams, dedicate your time and energy towards achieving them, know for sure that nothing can take the place of hard work, work hard towards your dream no matter how much pains it brings to you, make friends with other teens that have like target and above all, pray hard, knowing that God will always bless your hard work, but never substitute prayers for hard work, god is not a magician.