How I Spent Her Midterm Holiday

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Tamms is in high school. It’s wild, I know. She was literally born in this blog, in the very small fragile hours of the morning of  11th January 2008. She was handed to me immediately when she came out; like a parcel I had been waiting for expectantly. She weighed little more than a very large pumpkin. I could see her ribs as she cried, the inside of her mouth was not any different from the inside of a fish’s mouth. It suddenly made sense why they call it the ‘buccal cavity.’ Her skin was folded. She might not have had teeth but her cries had a bite. They placed her naked on a weighing scale, under a bulb that kept her warm. Outside, while Kenyans burned each other in churches in the ensuing post election violence, my heart burned with love. I thought to myself, damn, I made a baby! Me, who can’t even find his socks! Sometimes even now, two children later, I sometimes still suffer from imposter syndrome. Like someone, someone with a mustache and a tucked in shirt, will come and say, “OK, thanks, Biko. I’ll take it from here.”

What happened immediately after Tamms was born was that I just started writing about her. All the bloody time. I could be writing about a waterfall and find a way to throw her in the waterfall. She was content, or a low hanging pumpkin, if you will. There is nobody I’ve written about more prolifically or consistently than I have about Tamms in this blog since it started around 2009. She’s the constant character; crawling, walking, starting kindergarten in her little pink rounded toe shoes, joining primary school bewildered and enthused, then time simply swallowing her and suddenly she’s grown very tall and very silent and having her own agency, ditching pink as her favorite colour, frowning at my taste in clothes, growing breasts and starting to hug me sideways [footnote hugs], getting her period and her goddamn cramps and saying things like, “Can we go buy essentials, papa?” 

Essentials, for crying the love of Mike!

Then she went to high school. 

Boarding school. 

She didn’t want to board, of course. Nobody wanted her to, except me. Kim asked me, “Why is Tash going away, did she do something wrong?” I said, “Yeah, she’s going to work on her hugs.” He said, “What?” I said, “What?” 

But I [tried] to prepare her for boarding. Rather, I tried. Two years prior, I took them to my former high school; Maseno School. It was a school holiday so only a few workers milled about, trimming a hedge here, or fixing a doorway there. Someone pushed a loud mower through a patch of very green grass. The bricks on the classrooms were still bright but aged. The dormitorieswe called them Houseswere now shut down, grass overgrowing in the lawns around them. The paved walkways were vacant, pavements that feet would run on during sessions. Boarding schools heal during holidays. They heal from the collective teenage angst. From the ghosts that haunt the young minds of boys. 

“There was a telephone booth right over there,” I pointed at a charming small brick bookstore. “If you wanted to call home, you used that phone.” 

“It was charging there?” Kim asked. He was six years old. 

“No, there were no mobile phones, just a telephone booth where you made phone calls. It used coins.” 

“Coins?” Tamms asked. “How?”

So I Googled a phone booth and showed them how it worked. Kim looked away, disinterested in archaic objects from the Dark Ages. We passed through the main square where assemblies were held. The assemblies were addressed by prefects. “Prefects ran the school.” I said. “So form ones would stand here and form fours at the back.”  I didn’t tell them that prefects would occasionally beat you if they had to. That they were law. 

We gathered under one of the notorious school bells, an ancient chunk of metal hanging from an even older tree. I said to the gathering, “When I think of high school. I think of this bell. It went off at 5-am each morning. It was very loud. The toughest thing in high school was hearing this bell and waking up in the cold. It was very miserable. Very very miserable.” Kim looked up at the bell and asked, “Can you ring it?” I said, it wouldn’t be appropriate. But I thought about it but I was afraid it would awaken the demons of those years. You know how a song evokes a memory, I wondered what nostalgic memories the bell would bring.  

I took them to the school kitchen. The big dark boilers where they cooked, er, boiled, food still stood. We’d line up here, I said, get our food and eat in the dining hall.  The food was dreadful. If you haven’t been to jail yet, the food tastes something like that. Before avocado got in vogue, became gentrified and changed its name to guacamole, we were already smashing it in our githeri back in high school. I didn’t tell them that I had a crush on the cateress when I was in Form Two. That wherever I saw her I’d feel dizzy with desire. But then again at 16 you would have a crush on a cactus if they strapped a bra on it. 

We stood before the imposing church, the oldest church in the area, built in 1906 or something crazy like that. I hated going to church on Sundays. [I didn’t tell them that because they’d hear, “I hate God.”] The ceilings were so high, the beams felt like they were ladders floating from heaven. Even though it was still, I could still hear the piano. Something about a piano, man. It lingers in your bones for long. We strolled past a big well where we’d line up to fetch water sometimes. It still looked untouched, its rotund torso whitewashed.  Memories came crashing at me; of very cold dawns when I’d join other hapless boys and stand there in a queue, shivering, my sleep severed off violently by that bell, waiting to fetch water to brush my teeth. Floating above our heads, mist from our breath. 

We stood outside my former House called Bowersthe only storied House in those days – and peeked through the windows at cubicles with bare beds where boys retired their bodies and dreamt their impossible dreams. High school suddenly felt like yesterday; the smell of Protex soap, the sound of metallic boxes opening and shutting and padlocks locking and the creaking beds and feet, boys’ nimble feet running for preps, running for dinner, running for games, running for class, running, running….we grew old but we never stopped running.  

Later, as we stood before the rugby pitch I told them that high school was rough and tumble but if I was to do it again, I’d still go back to the same school and do it exactly the same way. “Why?” Tamms asked. I saidand this is a speech I’d practiced to sell her the idea of boarding schoolbecause it builds your character, you learn to live with all manner of people, some very strange, some selfish, rich, poor, some kind, thieves, generous—and you learn to take care of yourself and besides, a little discomfort is not bad at all. Kim didn’t care. I think in his head he knows he will skip high school and do something else with his life.  

When Tamms went off to high school it felt like she was going to war with a gun she hadn’t learnt to use properly. A war that she had to fight alone. That morning I taught her how to tie a tie from my muscle memory. She looked both mature and a child in her blazer. She was already a young woman but also when you looked at her closely she was just a child. She wore her shoes. We took pictures. I felt like she was leaving home, leaving us forever, and it’s true she is. You always hear that you have a small window with children, that once they hit teenage they are gone. Her ecosystem will no longer be around her family, it will grow wider and wider and the world will claim her. The world eventually claims her children. 

On our way we stopped at a cafe to have breakfast and give her a pep talk. The mom said to her, “We already had our conversation, there is nothing more I can add now. Just work hard.” I was next. I don’t recall what I said exactly but I was very grave, you have to be grave as a father sometimes. I lowered my tone for effect. Three things for me, I started off: hard work, humility and discipline. I banged on about those three things for a while. Then I went to peer pressure. There is nothing wrong with being different, I told her. You don’t need anybody to complete you, only you can ever complete yourself. You are enough. You will meet some rich kids in that school, remember who you are and where you are from. You are not rich, you are not like them, you are sacrificed for. Greatly. I wanted to add, like my mom did, that I can’t remember the last time I bought a shoe for myself but then I recalled that she has seen my shoe rack.

Keep your head straight, I said slowly feeling a Luther King rising in me. This is your moment, don’t squander it. Try out everything in school, that’s the only way you will know what you want and what you don’t want. Also, be ready to fail and fall. Many many times. You will make many bad mistakes, and that’s okay, that’s how you will learn about life and about yourself. So make them. Fall. Fail. Fail again and again. I’m still making mistakes and failing at my age, imagine that. Mistakes aren’t you, they are just mistakes. Then I finished it off with something I have always told her, that I love her, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, she will ever do that will disappoint me so much that will change that love. And that there is no jam she will ever get into that I won’t be able to fix. Just tell me when you are in trouble, or tell your mom. I patted her hand and smiled. From the corner of my eye I saw her mom turn and probably think, OK, Olivia Pope. She then turned to Kim, “Kim, do you have any advice for Tamms?”

Kim looked up from his fish fingers. His lips were oily. He let us wait as he chewed thoughtfully wondering which piece of advice Tamms would greatly benefit from because he had a lot. He has gathered a lot of sage gems in his eight years on earth. Finally, after wiping his hands with a serviete he said, “Be humble and work hard.” 

I rolled my eyes, “I already told her that. Be original.” 

 “And pray.” He added. 

It’s surreal when your child suddenly goes away. There is a disconnect. Suddenly you don’t see them, don’t hear from them. You wonder how they are adjusting to living alone. With other people who grew up in other households and you wonder what habits she will pick. Of course you try to take them to a boarding school that won’t make them resentful or too unhappy, just a little discomfort without it feeling punitive. Most importantly, a place that will grow their confidence, that will tap all their potential because I’d rather have a very confident daughter than one who gets straight As. A few weeks later her mom went for Mother-Daughter day and she called me on the phone. She was very unhappy. She didn’t like boarding. It was too tough, she said. She missed home. I told her it gets better. She cried a lot. 

They were on midterm this past weekend. She had sent word through a teacherthey are called Homeroom teacherfor me not to forget to pick her early the next morning. I texted the teacher back, “Tell her my phone is off :-)”  She said she would like to be picked at 5am. That would mean waking up at 3:45am, I thought.  

By 5:01am I was there, signing her out. It was cold. I joined a small group of parents under a tent, in heavy jackets, gathered in the gloom of the breaking dawn, waiting as we heard their names called out from a loudspeaker inside the school compound. Through the partitioning fence, the shadows of girls ran around. Somehow it reminded me darkly of Auschwitz. The girls came out one by one and fell into the embrace of their parents. You could hear giggles and laughs and the oohs and aaahs. Bags were taken off their hands. Hands thrown over their shoulders. 

I had bought her flowers the previous nighta bunch of white mums and a single stemmed red rose. I have always bought her flowers because I’m not very verbally expressive, I struggle with saying things like I love you and I miss you verbally, I’d rather write them. She, on the other hand, is very verbal about that and slowly she has given me the permission to express those feelings verbally. Kids teach you things. ‘We raise them and they raise us,’ as my editor here says. And so I hope the flowers say more than I can ever say. Although she normally loves the flowers  I didn’t think she would appreciate me standing there waiting for her with flowers. She doesn’t like drama. I don’t think she wants to start her time in school as being that girl whose dramatic father shows up with flowers. So I left them in the car.  

She finally showed up with her luggage. She didn’t look famished or faint or pale. She still had ten fingers. Nobody had gouged out her eyes. She was even smiling. We hugged longer than we have ever hugged. I could smell her hair. It smelled like her hair. At the car I gave her the flowers and said ‘Taduuum’ which was really unnecessary and childish but I was happy. She brought them to her nose and said brightly, “Oh thank you!”.  

Tell me everything! I said as we drove out. She isn’t much of a talker, like me, so she gave me the bones of it. The mornings are really early, by 5am they are up. You shower and leave for morning preps by 5:45pm. “The water isn’t hot and so not all girls shower,” she said. Oh poor kids, cold water at 5am. Such a travesty. Will they ever be okay or are they ruined forever? Class starts at 8am, she told me. There are breaks where they have tea and snacks. [Yeah, school is so difficult). Lunch. Afternoon classes, tea and snacks [again!] Games and clubs time. Dinner at 6, I think. Evening preps. Snacks before bed. 

“You have snacks before bedtime?” I asked incredulously. “Why?!” 

She laughed. 

“How are your teachers?”

“They are good.”

“You like them?”

“Yeah.”

It was still dark and my headlights were still on. 

“Made any new friends?” 

“Yeah, they are nice girls.” She said, “But there are a lot of fights in school.”

“Physical fights?”

“No, just verbal.” 

I said, oh, hoping she wouldn’t hear the disappointment in my voice. 

I eased onto a dual carriageway. The sun was just coming out but hidden behind a thick wool of clouds. It was going to be an overcast day. “A girl hit on me.” She announced. She said it casually like it happens to her a lot. Just another day. I tried to match her nonchalance by keeping the car from drifting over the continuous yellow line. I said, “Really?” She said yeah. A Form Three girl. 

“Look at that,” I said. 

“I told her I’m straight.” She said. 

“Was she crushed?”

“She was.” She said, “Did you have gay people during your time in high school?”

Gay people have always been there, I said. “We had some in our school but they were very lowkey.” She then talked about how tough boarding is and how she misses home constantly. I told her I missed home for two years when I was boarding but finally it got better and I started enjoying it. “You are lucky the food is good,” I told her, “Can you imagine missing home while constantly hungry?” 

Talking of which, she wanted a big burger from Big Square. She’d been craving it, dreaming it; something double stacked, with bacon and cheese and pickles. Something that immediately clogs your arteries by just looking at its picture in the menu. There was no store open at that time, though. Kim called. “Have you picked Tash?” I said, sure, almost there. He said, “Yes.” Then hang up. 

As we drove through the estate barrier she said something that I felt she wanted to save for last. She said, “There is a girl in school who looks exactly like me,” 

“Really?” I turned to look at her.

“Yes, she is in Form three. Even other students agree that we could be sisters.”

“Do you think you look like her?”

“Yes, we really look alike.” She said, “We even became good friends.”

“Well, maybe that’s my other daughter,” I said chuckling, “You never know, Tamms.” 

She laughed.

I made a point to meet this girl next time and ask her who her mom is. Because…you never know…

***

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138 Comments
  1. High school already? Weren’t you in her primary school the other day trying to look for the boy who shoved her?
    You’re such an amazing dad Biko, may Tamms’ high school experience get better and God always watch over her.

    Also did you cry a little when she went away to boarding school? Perhaps in the shower? No? Okay.

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    1. That feeling of going home for the first time after boarding, is unparalleled! But these kids enjoy Boarding Premium Pro Max these days. Kitambo it would be 5 am cold morning showers, make it to the hall and take a mug of scalding hot porridge with almost no sugar, and obviously we never had snacks. But the worst of it, I agree, was that wretched bell in the morning.

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  2. Enyewe you never know!!! That pep-talk is something all kids need! let me make use of it 2 decades later!

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  3. Aaaw. Congratulations you Biko, Tamms, Kim and the Missus, y’all have grown. We wish Tamms all the best in high school. She will do great. Okay, feedback please on the look alike.

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  4. The reality that my FB and only daughter will be going to form 1 in January scares me silly. This kinda made me want to cry and don’t ask why .

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  5. Last tuesday was heavy. Thanks for making it light & fun today. The best line was a 16yr old will have a crush on cactus if only a bra was strapped on it . Jeez Biko! how do u come up with this witty lines??
    I wish Tamms all the best in her high school life

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  6. Hahahaha Biko!!! It’s not your high school daughter !!!
    Tamms will be fine. She’s Smart . I love your bond!

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  7. This reminds me so much of my own highschool experience. Wanting my parents to be that early to pick me up. So glad she’s enjoying and how you’re teaching her about inclusivity and acceptance. I wish more parents in this God forsaken religious nutshell could stop teaching their kids to hate and to fear queer folk like queerness is spread like TB.‍♀️

    Can’t believe Tams is now in highschool, just the other day she was still pinning her hankerchief to her sweater, good job baba Tamms. When she’s 16 give her a section here we see life from the perspective of a teen!

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  8. “Somehow it reminded me darkly of Auschwitz”..
    I just finished Victor Frankl’s Man search for Meaning today and the darkness related to Auschwitz and the concentration camps is still so fresh in my head….

    Biko must be such a cool dad❤️ !

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  9. And I have been here reading about Tamms from the day she landed on earth! High school already? I have grown too.

    What a sweet father-daughter moment. They grow so fast. All the best to Tamms.

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  10. That ending though!
    However you describe fatherhood makes it so adorable and desirable. But I won’t jump the gun. Man must be ready, mustn’t he?

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    1. I never had the luxury of having my parents pick me up from school for several reasons. First off, I was deployed (cause home feels like a military training ground honestly) to study in the heart of Turkana County. More than 300Kms away from home. On a good road, that would be around 4-5 hours. But good roads were aliens in Turkana County then. Something unheard of. Something strange. It would take up to 10 hours on the road for you to get to Lodwar Town. It was exhausting.

      Secondly, my folks didn’t (still don’t) have a car. Even if they did, knowing my dad, you would probably have to wait for Trump to be humble before he’d fuel up to come pick you. He is the tough love kind of guy.

      All this to say, a part of me envies Tamms. I will make sure my kids don’t!

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  11. I have loved the part for advice.. the brother telling the sister is quite deep stuff for me… well done Biko bringing up girls is quite something these days.
    Having a girl who will open up to you as her Daddy is a great thing .. she is on the right track , she is making good choices from what I have picked…

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  12. BikoI’d missed Tamms stories too. Funny thing my best friend looked exactly like me. He joined the school when I was in form three and I heard teachers saying my little bro is hard headed unlike me. So we met and we’re best friends to date.

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  13. “I’d rather have a very confident daughter than one who gets straight As”

    couldn’t agree more Biko.

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  14. This is beautiful. Please let us know when you meet the look alike of Tamms…..because well…you never know.

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  15. So beautiful ….. Tamms is in high school , wow. Time flies. we are really getting old. Can we have more Tamms please ?

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  16. Oh my.

    Such a good reference material for us bringing up daughters that are only months old. Tamms will be the Girl-parenting dictionary to check hits and misses. So far, hits >90%

    A real cracker: ‘Something that immediately clogs your arteries by just looking at its picture in the menu.’

    Hope next Tuesday we get to know this Form 3 ‘sister’. They are back this week, No?

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  17. Why am i crying? I am bookmarking this to use within the next two years, all in verbatim.
    This is the sweetest thing i have read in a very long time. Tams online Auntie is proud of her milestone. God bless her and give her the wisdom to discern all situations.

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  18. Wow! I like how Tamms saved the best for last…don’t deny us the story when you meet the girl’s mother✌

    Nice piece.

  19. Today’s story is something to smile about. That bit about Tamm’s ‘sister’ is very short. Give it like three paragraphs in the next article.

  20. Ok, your speech before she left for school the first time and the flower thing, moved me. Enyewe Tamms is the baby of this blog, we’ve grown with her. Now I know why every old person when we were young liked to go “you’ve gotten so big! I used to hold you when you were little”, coz it’s amazing how kids grow

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  21. Nice pep talk …..copied and to be told to my daughter today evening ! I dread boarding school now that i joined in class 4. My daughter asked to join boarding in class 6 and i said NO WAY! I know she will join boarding in Secondary in 2024 but just cant imagine the separation! You have been a great dad to your kids n i wish all men would make half your effort to be in their kids lives ….all the best to Tamms – you have kept writing Tash n thats my daughters name !

  22. Like someone, someone with a mustache and a tucked in shirt, will come and say, “OK, thanks, Biko. I’ll take it from here.” This is the moment Bob walked into your interview Biko, right? 🙂 . But you did us injustice by asking him only one question and ending the interview.

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful article Biko. I had my 1st girl also joining High School this month and I must say I have picked a bagful of lessons from this. No one has hit on her yet :), but Tamms would have enjoyed the hot showers there. Was shocked to learn that some of our public schools actually do have hot showers for students. Times have really changed.

    Good read.

  23. Bikooooooo,

    Tams Twin sister,2 years older?
    You Goat You.
    Cant wait for the Missus to hear this.
    keep us updated…..

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  24. Kim didn’t care. I think in his head he knows he will skip high school and do something else with his life.

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  25. I loved this one! I went to boarding school in nursery. Six years old. Oh it was horrible. I missed my mom sorely. But I soon got used to boarding life. Made life long friends. We had white fermented uji for breakfast. It was delicious though.

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  26. I still have dreams (or should I call them nightmares) about high school partly because of that bit where prefects were allowed to beat you. I could write a book about the experience if I had the finger muscles. I hope that is not happening anywhere now.

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  27. You never know! Pwahahaha. You many find out Tamms doppelganger is a distant relative.

    Awww…just like that Tamms is in high school!
    Us aunties and uncles (the Gang) are so proud!
    The four years will zip by so fast, so Tamms should savour each day as it comes, making the most of it, because decades after, one forgets the feel of bathing with icy cold water, but not the fun times they had with friends. I think she will do well.

    I’m glad the food is good, and they even offer snacks. It makes that time much easier and pleasurable. I remember our cooks whipping up such good food that some girls try to replicate the same at our school re-unions without much success.
    Most complaints grown Kenyans have of their high school days are the trauma of removing weevils from their githeri which they had all year round, then having to fetch water at 4 am. I think that would require unlearning and relearning. High School isn’t meant to be a punishment.

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  28. Lovely . Great lesson’s. Especially being a good listener and also knowing how to express yourself when speaking to the younger ones. Looking forward to more reads

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  29. Oh, you make such a wonderful dad, sir, an excellent one for sure! There is nothing I admire more!
    All the best to Tamms! Can’t wait to read when, in four years’ time, you probably drop her off to campus when she becomes a fresher, or will you?
    One piece of advise I have learnt to dole out lately to students is; Do your best! Give it your all! And that will be enough!

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  30. This is awesome.
    …And true “you never know” can’t wait for the part after meeting the girl

  31. I like the way you are raising your kids I hope to become a parent some day and do an amazing job like yours

  32. I remember my first day in boarding school insisting to go back home with my mom after witnessing the “hell” that the older students were clearly going through in the two hours I’d been there.

  33. Thanks for these stories Biko. I don’t know what I would read without this one beautiful blog.

  34. Biko!!!
    You’re a great Dad!!! Flowers.,that’s so sweet and special! That’s deep love! Making memories…I love it.

    A big hug to Tammz….she aced her first “Life Exam” in high school. For her to open up to you like that shows you have a great relationship and she knows you’ve got her back.

    About Tammz doppelganger….. You must meet her!!! We’d love to hear about her.

    Cheers!!!

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  35. OMG! Tamms is in High School!!!!
    God, please take the wheel!
    I started reading you Biko from way back on Daily Nation writing about Missus then Tamms when she was born! Where did the time Go???
    This makes me so old, Jehovah!
    Anyway, please keep writing more about Tamms. I am her internet auntie.

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  36. I remember reporting to high school and trying to persuade my mom to take me back home with her. I’d observed the older students dashing everywhere for everything and I couldn’t imagine doing that on the daily. Clearly I survived and so will Tamms.

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  37. How time flies! It was just the other day she was in Primo. Keep on keeping on.

    I hope you played her Welcome back by Mase hehe.

    This piece is hilarious. This cracked me up—-> But then again at 16 you would have a crush on a cactus if they strapped a bra on it.

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  38. Hahaa such a beautiful read. That you were there by 5:01 is so lovely as well. Indeed love is greater than the worst disappointment.

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  39. I just love the conversation between you and Terms, honest, Raw and real. halafu, please check out on the other girl and let us know.

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  40. I love that you have created an environment for her to feel safe enough to let you know that a girl hit on her. Look at you winning at Fatherhood Biko! Tamms is blessed to have you as a dad.
    Also that school is so cool ati they have A.M and P.M Tea? WITH SNACKS? kwani mimi nilisomea nchi ingine?

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  41. Biko is a coolio for a dad, lucky Tamms and Kim. Good luck to our online likkle sis. Kudos to you Biko, you are doing really great as a parent ngl.

  42. Wow…….the memories of joining Form 1 came rushing back. 45 years later we still meet as a motley group of aging guys in our late 50’s on the anniversary date of our joining high school. We haven’t changed much, just grown older and wiser and more wizened!

    Encourage Tamms to keep tabs of her school mates in later life. For whatever it’s worth we seem to get much joy in sharing a drink and a laugh together with my classmates whenever we get together.

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  43. I really really love your stories about Tamms. Every one of them is a string that tags at my heart every single time. It is in the tender love and the way to pay attention; the way you know her

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  44. This took me back to high school for sure. I remember the Principal telling my dad that Visiting days is 3rd weekend of the month only. Dude still showed up every Sunday around 6pm to bring for me the Newspaper because I loved filling Sudokus. I guess it was just to make sure I was comfortable. Like you, he was never expressive, infact I could always tell he was from taking one or two. Then he would give me cash and whisper ” I was good in Math and sciences”

    Tamms will get used to it over time, wishing her the very best.

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  45. I dread next year.
    I pray and hope my darling daughter doesn’t drift away from me…I don’t want her to go to a boarding school

  46. I made a point to meet this girl next time and ask her who her mom is. Because…you never know…….

    Enyewe..you never know. Waiting for the big reveal…he he he

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  47. Nice read made me go back to my school days.This baby has really grown haki I remember reading all your articles since she was a baby.

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  48. Are you saying kids cant build character, learn to live with all manner of people, some very strange, some selfish, rich, poor, some kind, thieves, generous—and learn to take care of yourself outside boarding schools?

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  49. Congratulations mzee you are now officially old….I love the part you tell her to try everything to know her strengths

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  50. Wow it has reminded me of my high school days and also the time I took my girl to a boarding school and the day she joined university.

  51. You realize you never actually told us how you *spent* her midterm ama hiyo ni ya next week?
    Did she get the burger and did it slap as much as she dreamt it would?

    Loved this piece.

  52. This is exactly why I’m afraid to take my daughter to a boarding Auschwitz. These children nowadays are no longer low-key gay.

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  53. I started reading your work way back in high school while you were a columnist in one of the local dailys’. You used to pop-in baby Tumms in almost all the articles you wrote. I was a fourth former in 2008 when Tamms was born and yes our school bell was like a wrecking ball. Wrecking havock on drooling bodies in sleep. I also had a crush on our cateress but the 17yr old me would crush on a cactus with a bra strapped on AND A SHORT SKIMPY TIGHT UP SKIRT around where its posterior would possibly be located… You forgot the skirt Biko..

  54. I love that you were there on time.Back in high school,my mom never missed visiting day&it gave me something to long for.But there were those whose parents never showed up &you’d see how dispirited they were.Sort of misinterpreting it for not being loved enough.
    I also appreciate that she can confide info that I deem “sensitive “coz I wouldn’t utter about being hit on-boy/girl.Dating was an odd topic.
    Also,I love that she’s slowly becoming her own person.
    Congratulations!

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  55. THEY HAVE SNACKS BEFORE THEY SLEEP???? I loooooove that they dont stay hungry from 6 to 6 as we used to. We dealt with hunger by smuggling cartons of biscuits for business.

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  56. Your description of Maseno School got me nostalgic. Houses not dorms indeed. Well done Biko. Preparation for boarding school doesn’t get better than a trip to Maseno School

  57. This is exactly what I’m going through with my son. He’s in form 1 and it’s the first time he’s in boarding school. He doesn’t like that much though he’s adjusting well. During midterm this past Friday, I went to pick him up at 6am. That was the earliest time parents could come for their children. I’m also having a hard time when he’s away in boarding. Thank for sharing your story. I’ve gleaned some good stuff from your experience.

  58. So many snippets of wisdom today Biko! Thank you.

    I especially related to ”Then I went to peer pressure. There is nothing wrong with being different, I told her. You don’t need anybody to complete you, only you can ever complete yourself. You are enough”

  59. She finally showed up with her luggage. She didn’t look famished or faint or pale. She still had ten fingers. Nobody had gouged out her eyes.

    this is funny, you’ve painted a picture of how our high school was a real Auschwitz, it was worse than Hell, though I made it.

  60. just like that Biko has a new daughter…..!!!!!! Tamms has grown really fast…she was in primary juzi tu…. CONGRATS daddy and mummy…
    please serve us the tea when you meet the mum….you never know!!!! we are all one family

  61. Those snack times are many lucky Tamms ..just the other day she was a toddler and now see how time flies .All the best to her she’ll enjoy her high school eventually. Give her time to get used to boarding.. homesickness is usually the hardest but we get over it with time

  62. How lovely when you write about your kids! It will get better and easier for her, with time. Yaani they even have bedtime snacks ?

  63. Crazy how we have read about Tamms from the time she was still a toddler to now she is gliding through high school and having to make decisions on her own. Some of my best reads here are on Fatherhood because you capture the moments so beautifully. Wishing Tamms the very best on her journey.

  64. I took so long to read this So, I’m reading this in the morning in a matatu , on my way to work…. I got emotional when you said that you buy Tamms flowers. That’s really cool, probably because I love flowers and wish I had a dad who’d have bought them for me when I growing up. You are good dad Biko. She’ll turn out to be an amazing lady.

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  65. Very enjoyable read.I like the way you assured Tamms that you will always be there for her and that there will be nothing she can do now or in future to cause you to love her less.Children especially in the times we are living in need this assurance verbalised.Keep up the good work Biko as a writer and a father.

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  66. Waaah this is the most painful , heartwrenching story I have ever read, I started reading it weeks ago, and I could not just finish it in one sitting. Today I am going to bed with a very heavy heart, such a sad ending to a young child’s life, the image of her lifeless body will remain etched in my mind for a very long time. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Rose is going through and I can only pray that God heals her, restore her joy and give her Hope to continue living. To all those who are always rushing to be the first to comment, please take a moment to read and appreciate the story before you start bragging even before you’ve read, personally, I think it shows respect to Biko and to the hundreds of people who have agreed to share their life stories whether happy or sad. Unless Biko gives out awards for people who are the first to comment? First to comment without reading adds no value and in this particular case, it left a bad taste in my mouth. My God rest little Hope’s soul in eternal peace and grant Rose the strength. My prayers for the family

  67. So has she improved on the hugs as was the goal of boarding school?? Hahaha. How is she in high school?? Tunazeeka jamani.

  68. But Biko, why boarding? I feel like boarding is for parents who don’t have time for their kids. Don’t you want to see your Daughter every day?

  69. Biko this is the most beautiful piece you have ever written. Being a father to a daughter I have related with every word here.

    Beautiful Biko just bloody beautiful!!!!!!

  70. Something always beautiful about a father being in his kids life. A simple gesture like dropping and picking them from school is embedded into ones memory for a life time

    Happy fathers day in advance

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  71. As for me, i enjoyed seeing others getting picked while i waited for my mum. I loved being alone and having the freedom to walk through the empty pathways trashed with old books and exam papers

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  72. Yaaani Tamms is on high school a D is clear that she is straight? Where did the years go? Such a beautiful story