Lick and Turn (II)

BY: Ablah Showbiz

Last weeks’s Lick and Turn part one saw my inbox flooding.  Many readers expressed their sentiments on the topic of why or why not some people lick their fingers to turn pages or to count money.  A lady who asked me not to publish her name asked me to float her story to the public for advice.  I shall name her Dorcas.  Please feel free to send me responses on what she should do via my email  – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Her mail reads: “Antie Ablah, I am a young mother of three toddlers (six, four and two year olds).  My husband and I work in two different financial institutions.  We are both very busy, considering the fact that I sometimes work on Saturdays. My husband doesn’t work on Saturdays but is pursuing a weekend Masters programme which takes him out of home virtually every weekend.

We have been dependent on house-helps since we got married.  I must confess, I have been a bit unlucky with house-helps – they just don’t stay.  The last one I had somewhere in May last year proved to be the best.  She was a thirty-two year old woman   who used to take care of my kids as though they were hers.  I liked her very much. 

She, however, left our home after I discovered in November that she was pregnant.  She had been put in the family way two months after being with us, by a mechanic whose fitting shop situates adjacent to our house.  I would have allowed her to stay with us in spite of her service delivery which had become slow, because my kids liked her – better than the other five who had come to live with us. 

She opted to leave for her hometown when she started having complications with the pregnancy.  I desperately needed someone at home just to be with the kids when the driver picked them from school - to receive them, feed and bathe them.  So I was prepared to take care of she and her pregnancy, so that she, in turn, would keep them company. 

But Antie Ablah, I guess the mechanic wanted her for himself so under the pretext of leaving for her hometown, she left us to live with him in the uncompleted building he resides in at a suburb of Accra called Cambodia.  Thankfully I had a few days of annual leave at work.  So when this pregnant lady left our home, I applied for three-weeks leave to enable me take care of them, hoping I would get a house-help within that period.

My husband’s mother is a retired teacher who is now widowed.  Even though she used to visit us once in a while, she never passed the night in our home.  Sincerely, I haven’t known her much as a mother-in-law.  She’s very caring and hardworking, and likes me – that much, I know.  On hearing of my desperate need for a house-help, she willingly offered to come over to stay with us whilst I look for another person. 

Antie, she is hardworking!  She doesn’t even care cooking for us.  She cleans the home as if it was her own.  And our kids love her.  I try hard to reciprocate her wonderful nature with words of appreciation and gifts.  She is a woman who appreciates every little thing you do for her.  But I seem to have a little challenge which is making me want to let her go.  I desperately need another house-help.  She needs to leave us soon. 

Antie Ablah, I have an issue with my mother-in-law and I don’t know how to discuss it with her.  I can’t tell my husband about it either.  But the matter is eating me up.  As I already told you, the kids like her very much.  They tell me all the time how she tells them stories and reads for them each time she gets the opportunity.  Of course, because of the nature of our jobs we have never seen her read to them.  But once a while I hear her telling them Ananse stories.

On New Year’s Day, I happened to have a little time on my hands in the afternoon, so I asked the six-year-old to pick up one of his story books, come to the bedroom where I was, and read to me.  Antie, can you believe that with each turn of that Lady Bird book, my son would dip his forefinger into his mouth, spew saliva unto that finger, and then use the moistened finger to turn the page?

Initially I wasn’t paying attention to the act.  But after I noticed a continuous occurrence, I just knew something wasn’t right.  He had never done that for me to see.  In fact, he never used to do that.  So where was this nasty practice from?  When I asked him where that saliva-aiding-page-opening thing was from, he was quick to say, “agh, grandma has been doing that?” 

“You mean grandma has been dipping her finger into saliva to turn pages when she is reading to you?”  “Yes.  If you like ask”.  So I called the other two and asked them the necessary questions.  They both confirmed what their brother had just told me.  Antie Ablah, what sort of unhygienic practice is this?  For goodness sake this woman has been a teacher before so I wasn’t expecting her to do that. 

Seriously, Antie, I don’t know why she should do that.  The kids are learning from her.  I can’t tell her to stop wetting her fingers with her saliva when reading. But my worry is, it is a dirty habit and the kids are learning from her.  Neither can I tell my husband that I am disgusted.  So I am thinking of looking for a nanny to take her place.  Maybe If I find one, I will find a good reason for a discussion with my husband, and she will leave.

Do you know my son was turning the pages at the exact place their grandma had been turning those pages?  Antie do you know what that means?  Both granny and the kids would be exchanging saliva anytime that book and similar others she reads to them, would be read by either the children or their grandma …  Because they will be touching the same sections of the saliva-laden pages?

In fact, I am very confused because I want her around us but cannot stand that habit of hers.  Antie, what can I do to let her put an end to that habit, knowing very well I can’t ask her to, or discuss with my husband who is her only child.  I am so confused.  Or should I get a househelp to replace her?  Oh, please advise me”.


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