What She Said: I Didn’t Get A Chance To Be A Child

October 13, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is an 18-year-old firstborn who has already raised three children. She talks about spending her childhood raising her siblings, her dad’s obvious favouritism towards her brothers, and how she wishes her parents were more involved in raising their children.  

Can you tell me the earliest memory of your childhood? 

How bad we had it financially. We had so little that whenever I saw something new in the house, I’d ask them who gave us. Eventually, things started moving up slowly. My mum’s brother gave her a car that she gave to my dad. Her reason for giving it to my dad was that she didn’t know anything about cars and couldn’t drive. She also finally got a job in the civil service. 

Before the job, she would drop me off at the neighbour’s, then carry my younger sister on her back to go sell crayfish. 

Why did she not drop both of you? 

My sister cried a lot. If she wasn’t with my mum, she’d cry for the entire day till my mum got back. Because of that, the neighbours didn’t want her around. 

So you were the chosen one. 

Yes, I was. At one point, my mum stopped selling crayfish and started selling doughnuts. She’d give my sister and I doughnuts to take to school. The doughnuts were big and fat and all my classmates were jealous of me. They didn’t know that the doughnuts were all my parents could afford at the time. 

There was a time she sold iced fish and we went around telling people. It was fun sharing the flyers and helping her scout for customers.

What about your dad? 

He was a junior civil servant and wasn’t earning a lot. Funny story on how he got the job. They didn’t want to give him at first because they knew he was Igbo.

Go on… 

When they referred my dad for the job, the woman conducting the interview was shouting to her subordinate in Yoruba that why would they hire an Igbo man, but they didn’t know my dad speaks fluent Yoruba. In the midst of her shouting, he stood up to leave and thanked them in Yoruba. They called him back and offered him the job because they didn’t know if he was sent by the government or something. 

Nepotism nepotisming. Now about your sister…

I was just about to clock two when my parents had my younger sister. My mum told me I didn’t like her and was always asking her to take my sister back to wherever they got her from. 

I grew up with very little, but it was worse for my sister. When I was born, my parents tried to do the best they could because there was still ginger. My sister, however, came after me so got a lot of hand me downs. I ate cerelac; she had akamu and crayfish.

Even with the new job?

Yes. Things started moving up and small small money started entering the account with my parents’ jobs, but things didn’t really change until 2009. My first brother was born in 2007, and he felt some of the poverty. But my youngest brother, the fourth child, was born in 2009 after things had gotten way better for my family financially. My dad got a promotion and they made him a senior officer. So before my brother was born, we had changed the furniture and retiled the house and also fixed the car. That’s why he’s a soft baby boy. My neighbours once said that the reason they know we’re eating in the house is because our last born just keeps getting fatter and rounder. He doesn’t know suffering.

Must be nice for him o. How did things get better for you?

School. Uni changed everything. When I’m in school, it’s just me and myself. I don’t have to think about what person A will eat or if person C has done assignments or washed uniforms. I love it.

Sounds great. And how are things at home?

My dad and sister are the ones doing most of the work in the house. Some days, my dad calls to ask how to make some kinds of soup. He’d end the call with how he can’t wait for me to come back so he can stop doing all the work. 

Wait, but you have three siblings…? 

This is why I feel like a second mum. I never had a chance to be a child. Everything that concerned my siblings was done by me. If they made any mistakes, I got the blame. They tell me I’m supposed to know better because I’m older. I have no space to myself.

I started cooking for my siblings when I was eight. I couldn’t make soups, but I was making sauces, potatoes, yam, etc. They still expect that from me.

At 8? Omo I don’t even cook now at 20.

It was so stressful. I’d have to cook for my siblings and then pack what they’d take to school or daycare for lunch. I remember praying to God that I hoped my mum was done having children because I was tired. 

As I grew older, the tasks increased. My younger sister is a bit more persuasive than I am. She also started asserting her independence earlier so they don’t stress her as much. My brothers? They’re spoiled. When my mum had them, my dad forgot my sister and I existed. It was like he’d been waiting for sons.

There was a time on my birthday, my dad gave me money to buy myself something. I went to buy cheese balls, and when I got home, my dad was holding my younger brother in his arms. My brother pointed at the cheese balls, and my dad just collected it from me with the change and gave it to him.


On my birthday o. It’s worse because my birthday is in January, and everyone is usually broke because of Christmas festivities. The cheese balls were my only source of joy and happiness. I was so sad. 

Blood would have flown o. 

What could I have done? Once, I sent my brother to buy milk. Not only did he buy the wrong milk, but he opened it and started licking it. He also lost my change. Would you believe my parents blamed me? 

Ah. Wow.

My parents showed obvious favouritism. They didn’t try to hide it.

When I was 14, I went to pay my school fees. It took way longer at the bank than I thought it would, so I came home around 4 p.m. My parents had called at the time and when I didn’t pick up, they called my neighbours. My neighbours told them I wasn’t at home so when they came back, they started shouting at me so much. They asked me how I could leave my brothers all alone. I was shocked because the older one was 10. Ten! At that time, I was taking care of everyone else.

Now he’s 14 and still can’t do anything in the kitchen. When my sister isn’t around, my dad is the one that does the cooking because “do you want your brothers to burn down the house.” My sister is always complaining because she does everything alone and nobody helps her out.

Omo, so what’ll happen when you go back home?

It means I’d resume the cooking and cleaning all over again. Sometimes when my dad calls, he tells me he can’t wait for me to return home so I can continue the work. It’s one of the reasons I avoid the house during holidays. 

My brother goes out to play games and football and nobody says anything. As I am, I can’t just go to my friend’s house unannounced, but my brother disappears for hours and my mum just lightly tells him not to do it again, but he does it again! 

If you could change anything, what would it be? 

I’d wish my parents were more involved in raising their children. It felt like they just dumped all the children on me to raise. I also wish they spaced the children more. Maybe it would have given me a chance to actually be a child. 

For more stories like this, check out our #WhatSheSaid and for more women like content, click here

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

September 10, 2020

A lot of Nigerians don’t believe in the concept of “platonic.” As far as they are concerned, if a man and woman are involved then something is happening behind the scenes. Because of this women with male besties have to deal with the things on this list: 1. People always doubting that you are both […]

May 26, 2021

The subject of this week’s What She Said is a woman in her early thirties who has been a reverend sister for twelve years. She talks about life before service, how she got called to join the convent and adapting to life at the convent.  What is your earliest memory of your childhood?  It was […]

August 6, 2018

If you have Nigerian parents like mine, asking for money was most likely a grueling and almost terrifying task. You try to prepare and brace yourself ahead of time, but the where, when, why and how combo will always leave you stunned. Here’s a few of their excuses! As you’re there shivering, they’ll just be […]

November 2, 2020

My aunt who is an unemployed single mother of one was diagnosed with cancer. She has been very secretive and gets defensive when asked about it. After convincing her to see a doctor, she refused to tell anyone about her diagnosis, taking agbo – local medicine – instead and saying this is how God probably wants her to die.


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

More from Her

September 25, 2022

Simi and Taofeeqat became best friends in SS2. Before adulthood came between them, they gave each other cheesy love letters and long hugs. In this #LettertoHER, Simi wants Taofeeqat to know she misses her.

September 20, 2022

If your partner spent so much time in your home that it felt like they lived there, moving on can be tougher. So what happens when you can’t afford to move out to move on from the memories of your partner? 7 Nigerians who’ve been heartbroken shared their experience.

What She Said: I’ll Run For Office in 2027
September 14, 2022

Nafisa Atiku-Adejuwon talks about experiencing politics in secondary school, choosing public service over a legal career and finding purpose in helping young women enter politics through “Girls Just Want to Run”.

September 11, 2022

“In everything I wanted to do, my grandma always told me to go for it, even if I wanted to fly to the moon. She never made any of my dreams seem unachievable.”

In this personal essay, Dammy talks about her grandmother, who was also her best friend. #GrandparentsDay

What She Said: Feminism Led Me to Atheism
August 31, 2022

This week’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is a 23-year-old Nigerian woman. She tells us about discovering her feminism, pansexuality and atheism through books while living with her close-knit conservative family.


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.