You are the sunshine of my life

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With Aicha

Stewie Wonder, the great African-American singer/songwriter was born 1950 in Michigan, USA. He has meant a lot for pop, soul and funk music.
Stevie is blind, wasn’t born that way, but he was born with a problem with his eyes that got worse when he got too much oxygen in the hospital incubator. Stevie’s mother, who got four more kids, decided that Stevie shouldn’t be treated differently than the other children. This made his upbringing very balanced, no one was allowed to either tease him or be overly kind. Stevie’s family were very active in their local church where he early began to play different music instruments and sang.

Stevie Wonder signed a record contract at the early age of 11 years old, you could call him a wonder child if you wish. Little Stevie Wonder, as he was called at the beginning of his career, made a great career with a lot of records. He has not only been committed to music, he has also been politically active. 1980 he held a campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’ birthday as a public holiday in the United States.
During Stevie Wonder’s long career he has written a lot of famous songs, and one of them is this:
”You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around”

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The song is about love and joy, a homage to a person who is the centre of the singer’s life. Imagine to be loved like that, to know that your existance is making the other person happy.

When my second son was a kid we argued a lot. We are rather similar, stubborn and strong minded so that lead to a lot of conflicts. My son could make everyone in the family to argue with each other when he was in the wrong mood. He could also make us feel happy when he was in the right mood. He was like the weather in April; either sun or rain and it changed in an instant. I struggled a lot with this because I didn’t want to argue with my son that much, but still we had daily battles. One day I decided that this had to end, I had to be the adult and change our direction otherwise I might make my son feel that I didn’t love him.

Feeling loved and secure are basic human needs, and no child should grow up without this. Well, both you and I know that this is not a fact. Far too many kids grow up without love and security, look at the kids on the streets of the Gambia. These kids who don’t go to school, who are out late on the streets trying to sell fruit etc. Who cares about them enough to care for their needs? Who cares if these kids get abused or injured in the heavy traffic? Is there anyone who tells them that they are important, that they are the sun in someone’s life?
My second son and I struggled with our relation. I loved him more than anything but it was tough to deal with his temper. When I finally had decided to tackle the problem from another angle we came to a turning point. I decided to focuse on his strengths, on everything he did that was good instead of the bad things. I began to call him Tussilago, which is a yellow spring flower that makes you happy because it comes so early. From the name Tussilago it became Tuss and that is still what I call him even though he is 29. Now, as an adult, my second son is mostly like a sun and we have a great relation. I am happy and proud of this.

Having kids can really test ones patience, they seem to know exactly which buttons to press to make the parents mad. It is easy to get on the wrong track and then follow that without a thought of the outcome. After I had decided that I had to change my approach, my son opened up to me little by little. When I asked him how his school day had been, I wasn’t content with his short answer: Okay. I wanted to know what had happened during the day, either good or bad, and how he felt about it. Speaking about emotions gives you a deeper understanding for how other people feel because you can connect to them. If you never allow yourself to contemplate over your emotions, you won’t know how to deal with them.

A lot of people seek for instant distractions, they do everything they can to avoid thinking too much. It is as people believe that we always need to feel happy and that it is something wrong with darker and deeper emotions. A lot of the young parents now adays seem to believe that they must ”sweep the ground” for their kids to avoid any kind of obstacles. These parents seem to turn themselves inside out to keep their kids in a good mood. If the kid is upset; buy candy, give some new toys, let it play with your phone or tablet even if you risk to get it broken. Let the kid stay up late, let if follow it’s will no matter what – all in the name of love.

Is this love? Are you a good parent if your child is bossing you around? No, of course not! You only follow the easy way, but the problem is that this easy way will cause a lot of problems with time. You might object and say that this is a phenomenom only in the Western world, but I have seen it come to the Gambia too. Trust me; your kids will not become happier with a new phone or tablet. If it begins too early with this, it will actually have to get glasses around the age of twelve. There are muscles in the eyes, both long and short muscles. If you look on a short distance all the time the long muscles will wither. This is why kids should combine looking at a long and short distance so the eye muscles will be trained, otherwise they need to get glasses early. You, as the responsible parent you wish to be, must be the one who decides for how long your child is allowed to use a tablet or a game on the phone. I find it remarcable to see even toddlers using a phone or a tablet.

Some people seem to believe that this new technology is some kind of blessing, but scientists has already found that interacting with the child in the good old fashioned way is the best for the child. Singing with the child , reading stories, playing with it is the best for the child’s development. The phone or the tablet is taking the easy way out; when the kid complains or seems bored we make it easy for ourselves and let them use our gadgets. What the child really needs is the parent’s attention, not new toys.

The kids get happy by your attention, that you speak with them, show interest for their thoughts and interests. Our role as parents is not only to correct our kids when they do something wrong. Our most important role is to encourage them when they do something right. It is so easy to take good behaviour for granted and not mention it at all. If we don’t encourage our kids we can easily make them feel that we only see them when they do something wrong, that we don’t see what is good. Imagine if us adults would treat each other that way. Imagine your spouse would only mention the taste of the food when it wasn’t good. How would that make you feel? All the times you have been cooking one delicious meal after the other, but never any comment about that. You would feel sad and say that it’s not fair to treat you that way. You are right, of course, but why do we treat our kids like that? It’s not fair to them either . Our kids should be the sun in our lives, the relation can be a bit ”cloudy” sometimes, but you know the sun will show again.

Time flies fast and soon we are in the middle of April. The winter is slowly losing its grip over Sweden and the air has slowly become a little bit warmer. We celebrate the sun in different ways here, the last day of April we light large bonfires at many places. People gather there to see the bonfire and listen to the choir music. The celebration ends with fireworks in beautiful colours and shapes. We even have special songs that are only sang at these occasions. In the old days, when a lot of people starved here because of the lack of food, the coming of the spring meant that they would have food again.

The sun creates life as well as it can end life. Up in the north we don’t seem to get enough of sunshine, when the situation is quite the opposite at many places in Africa. Humans has always been adaptable to their environment, the strongest have survived and the weakest died because of many reasons. The sun is a great source of energy, with the right equipment we can use the heat from the sun to create electricity. The equipment is still too expensive for everyone to use, but we need to rush this process. With the electricity created by the sun we can run our hospitals and save lives. Pre-mature babies can lay in hospital incubators to get stronger. A woman in labour can have a c-section so both her and the baby’s lives will be saved. Sick people in need of a fan can have that by their badside, a huge relief for the one who can’t get up from bed to catch some fresh air.

Solar power is free and clean, you don’t need to fear that it will end as fossil fuels like oil. Every government with a responsible mind should provide their citizens solar panels with connecting batteries. It is a matter of saving our environment as well as saving lives, both human and animal lives. With clean energy we are saving the planet at the same time as we develop our societies. Karosene lamps would be no longer needed which would be a huge relief as they are both risky and are polluting the air. School children would have more hours to study when they can switch on the lights in the evening. Mothers who wish to make some extra income would have more light for their jam making or sewing.
It is about time to light up each other’s lives as the sun, we have the knowledge, but do we have the will?

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