Form 2 Student Leaves Father Broke After Spending All His Money

  • A man with his face in his palms
    A man with his face in his palms
  • Like every other parent to a teenager in the world, I worry...a lot. As a matter of fact, 70% of my feelings consist of worry and anxiety courtesy of my loving but rebellious son, Austin.

    At times, when I get home, I take a few minutes in the car just to pray for strength to go in the house and deal with whatever shenanigans he was up to during the day. 

    While praying, I am holding a picture of him and me when he was younger. The snap is of him on my lap on the driver’s seat as I ‘teach’ him how to drive. He’d cautiously turn the steering wheel as I press on the pedals and we’d move.

    “Check side mirror kama kuko sawa,” I directed him at which point he’d stand on my thigh and jump happily and we slowly ease into the driveway. Good ol times those were, but nowadays, whenever I pull into the driveway, a rather flustered neighbour is waiting for me. This time it was Mama Purity who taps on the window, bringing me back to reality.

    “Mtoto wako alinivunjia kioo ya sitting room wakicheza mpira,” my first reaction - “not again” 

    Sawa Mama Purity, nitumie bill nitaishughulikia

    As I walk into the house, my wife is in the kitchen giving him a tongue lashing that drowns the sound from the TV. As Austin does the dishes, clearly as punishment, he’s getting an earful, from the house general, the sandal AKA attitude fixer clutched in one hand. 

    At that point I think to myself - the situation is under control and I don’t need to get involved. I try to sneak to the bedroom, remove my shoes slowly and stealthily head upstairs.

    Na usinikumbushe chenye ulifanyia msichana wa kina Diana

    Msichana wa nani tena?” I stop mid-step and turn back, that statement needs to be expounded on and I am forced to turn back.

    The interior of a house
    The interior of a house

    What is this I am hearing, “Ulifanyia nini Diana,” I roared as I walked into the kitchen.. Please don’t be pregnant, the voice in my head screams.

    Alimwandikia love letter! Can you imagine that!” At that point, I let out a huge sigh of relief and give him a cold stare and with a low tone “We will have a chat later about this.” 

    I would like to say, I do not know where he got this from but in fact, a visit by grandma gave the whole family an idea as to where the naughtiness hails from.

    As she narrated my teenage years, most of which she could laugh at now because I was in her shoes with my own little trouble.

    At some point, she called the police on me. One would think that is the moment I got scared into behaving but naaah... I was gone. Somewhere in my twenties is where I got my life in check.

    The biggest scare was when Austin decided to take his girlfriend on a date. If it wasn’t clear before, Diana was his girlfriend - I guess that boy has a way with words and the love letter worked.

    Early in the morning having just got into the office, I got a phone call from a Travel/ Luxury transport hiring company. 

    A person using a phone
    A person using a phone

    “Hello Mr Kiema, there’s a charge we’d like to confirm with you, it’s for a helicopter ride,” the lady on the line started. 

    “A trip for two to Mount Kenya and back. Everything is set but one thing you will have to do is to top up your account to complete the journey back,” 

    At first, I thought it was a scam but when she read my card details I was like, “Kwisha mimi, brokenness here I come.”

    Without missing a beat, I almost yelled into the phone,  “Cancel it, I will not be able to make it for the trip. Please cancel it and give me a refund.”

    The lady went silent for a minute. Then she asked if I was sure. A quick request on my mobile money app confirmed my worst fears…  Your account balance is 0.00 - I nearly passed out after reading that.

    “Yes, I am sure!” before she responds, “you will have to come physically to the office to cancel the request.” 

    Upon getting the directions, I was out the door. On my way to their offices, I couldn't help but think how he could have accessed my pin- my pin is his birth year. I'd been meaning to change it for the longest time, and I guess today I got the push I needed to see through to that.

    Who did I find dressed and ready for their date at the helipad? Austin and his girlfriend, dressed for the occasion. 

    It took every fibre of my being to keep from strangling him, but I managed not to and later had a  chat with him… Trust levels had plummeted down to negative 10,000 and I couldn’t see how to get them back to where they were before- they weren’t that high, to begin with.

    So when the schools reopened and as he resumed his second year in high school, there was no way I was letting him near any money until he turned 30. At his point, he’d apologised almost three hundred times, but somehow, the apologies did not feel sufficient enough. 

    Trust issues or not, we had to find a way for him to stay in school comfortably. And that’s when I saw a fellow parent hand over a Co-op Bank Visa Card for his son, before sharing a warm hug. 

    The Co-opPay Prepaid Card puts safety, convenience, and control in your child’s pocket money.
    The Co-opPay Prepaid Card puts safety, convenience, and control in your child’s pocket money.

    I ask the parent why he gave the child his card and that’s when he “chanuas me” his words not mine - that the Co-op Pay prepaid Card is a convenient way to make sure his son is taken care of within reasonable limits.

    He goes on to explain how he loads the card with money and gives it to his A student to buy things from the school canteen. He also monitors the use of the card by getting free mini-statements.

    Mmmhhhh. think to myself... This would be the perfect trust test for my son and to see if he’s learnt any lesson on financial discipline.

    Conveniently, there’s a Co-op Bank just metres from their school. We go register with the required documents and we are good to go.

    I explain to him how important it is for him to make sure he spends the money on things he needs and to keep it safe - and also not to forget the pin or share it with anyone.

    Weeks in school and he sure looks like knows what he’s doing, he gets what he needs from the canteen - I don’t approve of the occasional snack but I understand cravings too.

    The school term is also coming to an end and he'd need fare back home. I might as well conveniently load up the card using M-Pesa pay bill 400200 - I will put in the exact amount needed this time.

    I love my son but I sure don’t trust him. But from the responsible usage on his card, I can say I trust him 8.5% more. Right now we are still at negative -8,950 points, it’s still progress.