Paul Otieno aka PauShinski, Father of Dragons
GirlDad to 4 girls: Ler (6), twins Taya & Polo (3 and 10mths), Leko (10mths)
Raising Girls: Boogers, Bath Time & Diapers
One random day, I am just chilling. And my child, my flesh and blood, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, brought me a gift. And she was excited.
She: ‘Dad, see. Here.’
She stretched her hand to give me a gift.
Me: What is it?
She: ‘Itsh from my nosh! For you’.
I take a look at it. I am shook.
Me: ‘Eeeew… Put it down’.
She: ‘Nooo…take. Eat. This is my booger which I am giving to you. Eat this in remembrance of me. It’s tamu.’ I get a wet wipe, clean her hands and clean her nose, which is always a big fight, and then now we have to have a Ted Talk about boogers. I almost wash her bone marrow.
Because what is this?
When you tell people tat you are having a child, the all become philosophers. There’s the ‘Awwws.’ And the ‘Sniff Sniffs.’ And ladies will almost certainly cry.
But men, men are different. They say really silly things that they assume is congratulatory at best. If you are a guy and you tell another guy that your are expecting a baby they tell you dumb stuff like, ‘Wueh! Buda. Nomaaaaa juu ya ngori.’ Or, ‘Heh, kweli!’ Or, ‘Hivyo ndio kunaendanga.’ The really nice ones will tell you, ‘Shikilia uzito.’
Nobody ever tells you how thick things are going to be. And nobody ever tells you of the amazing experience. One of the things I was told as Otieno One was in the oven was, ‘My friend. Your life is going to change so much.’ That was Amani Maranga. What he did not tell me, though, was when I was going to change. So that I kept asking myself if I had changed or not? When was that change going to come?
Nobody tells you the amount of boogers a 3 year old can produce. They have an inbuilt booger-making machine that does not breakdown when it is booger season. Ama it breaks down and causes the season? Also nobody tells you that the boogers might end up in their mouths. Worse still, nobody tells you, that the boogers might end up in your mouth, forcefully fed, by a small person living in your house at no cost.
Let me tell you who I am, first. My name is Paul Otieno. But my friends (and everyone now) knows me as Paushinski. I am a fulltime husband, and I am both self-taught and self-employed as a father 48 hours a day. I am also a writer and a commercial photographer. I am a volunteer teacher ever since the Covid 19 lockdown, and I am waiting for the government stimulus packages for untrained teachers.
I have nothing illegal in my house. Just four girls. All Otienos. (Originally, they were not meant to take the names Otieno, but the government.) Ler is 6, that’s Otieno 1. Taya and Polo are 3 years and 10 months old. (Taya is Otieno 2 and Polo is Otieno 3). Leko is Otieno 4, at a whopping 10 months. I tell people, I am The Father of the Dragons.
I used to think fathers were just fathers. It was natural and once you accepted your fate, there was a total shift in the universe and you would be able to hack it. And if that was the case, then sawa. Wacha ikuwe.
When my partner and I learnt we were pregnant with our first child, I was deep in the ad agency world. By then I had seen how parenting had taken a toll on people, in all the places I had ever worked. So I made a pact with me, myself and I, that this thing won’t change me. Also then I had the most amazing boss ever. EVER! Mercy Meria, who also aced motherhood like the boss she was. She gave me freedom and flexi-time, whenever necessary.
One of the things I decided to do was to run home in time for bath time, and that it was my job to wash the baby. And then feed her, and then put her to sleep, and then pick her up when she woke up in the middle of the night, and then feed and put her back down again.
I did myself in, guys. Nimefua watoto wangu wote, for a long time. Until one day, Otieno 1 told me, ‘You can’t wash me. You are a boy.’ And my heart broke.
That bath time is therapy. It’s bonding time. And it is fun and games time. It is bubbles, and songs of Moana. It is peace and tranquility, but it is also chaos. Bath time also comes with massages, and stretches, and looking into each other’s eyes before they try to run away. It is love. It is fresh smelling soft clothes. It is tiny socks and bodysuits written ‘Built Strong!’ It is wearing fresh diapers.
Advice to men:
When kids are below six months, they have the freshest poop. When kids get to about 6 months (or when the official first time weaning happens), there’s a killer bombshell waiting for you, my guy. I am telling the truth.
That first official poop is so bad, NEMA will come to your door. Aki that thing can kill you if you are not careful. You must be ready. I thought I won’t ever smell anything worse than boarding school. Turns out I was wrong.
That first poop just after we had weaned Otieno One, you guy bana, my nose almost fell off. It was so bad I wanted to move out. I was like, ‘Naomba heri nirudi nyumbani, kwa baba na mama nikawasaidie.’ Wawawa.
I think I was on duty then, (I am always on duty) but I was like ‘Warranty ya huyu mtoto imeisha kweli? Ama kuna vile tunaweza mrudisha hospitali turudishiwe pesa ama tupewe mtoto mwingine, please?’
Imagine I went to Le Wife and I was like, ‘Babes, I am not sure what is really going on here, but it looks like the baby has gone bad. Ni kama ameoza.’ Le Wife just rolled her eyes like, ‘Really?’
So I was there in the kabat looking for the hospital documents looking for a manual or something, to see if the doctors or manufacturers said something about ‘refrigerate until they turn 18’ because something was seriously wrong. This is the part nobody tells you about. Men will look at your baby’s photo’s on the socials and respond with those hearty emojis and things like, ‘My Ovaries.’
She is just huko in her room, I am chungliaing through the keyhole. Najiuliza hapa leo kutaenda aje? Me I can’t believe children of nowadays. You know me I never pooped when I was young. NEVER. I started in Standard Four. I don’t know, mayne. I wished I had a gas mask, a wheel jack and spanner, and a spare diaper. But the sweetest girl is not moved. Like they are there, the poop stench is all over the house and they are giggling. They were sad you hepad but now they are just so happy to see you. They are smiling. You hurry, clamping your nose with a peg, make the diaper change and want to leave the room.
You take time to breath in fresh air slowly. And then when it is safe you go back. You are so proud and excited that the end of the world was averted, you go back to play with the baby. Dakika mbili haipiti, BOOM! Here’s another one. Like the other one. And it’s gonna be like that until the end of time. Pray you had enough good diapers.