REAL DAD INTERVIEW : ERIC WAINAINA

Patricia Wanjala

Patricia Wanjala is a Nairobi Mum. @Triciawanjala FB: TriciasNaturals

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Please share your happiest childhood memories:

My father turned a large basket into a swing and hung it from a tree which my friends and I spent my entire 4th Birthday party in.

How would you like to replicate such moments in your children’s lives?

I created a water slide for my first daughter’s 7th birthday by stretching canvass down a slope and keeping it slippery with water and soap. Hours of fun!

How have your children benefited from having music as part of their lives?

My children are naturally bright – they get it from their mum, I’m sure. But music lets them unleash creativity into every sphere of their lives. They never cease to amaze with Sheba and I (and our guests) with fully-choreographed productions.

At what age did you introduce them to music and how did you do this?

We’ve always had music in the house. I write in the house quite a bit and Sheba has a bank of songs in her head a mile deep.

musical instruments

Do they play any instruments?

The elder plays guitar and as a matter of fact just sat her Grade 1 exam. We were thrilled. She’s a natural. She reads like Mozart! The second has a drum kit but has now decided she wants to follow in her sister’s footsteps.

What specific tips would you give parents (including us non-musical ones) on introducing music and dance instruction to our children?

Mr. Moipei said to me that we should let our children gravitate in whatever direction they want musically. He should know. I also think YouTube is a great reference. Watched under guidance there’s a wealth of information out there. Structured curricula like the ABRSM exams are good but finding a teacher who plays out (in a band or dance troupe) is a plus.

What is your daughters’ current favourite song?

How long do you have? 😉

What does a typical day in the life of Eric Wainaina look like, and how do you make time to be present in your children’s lives?

Typical day starts at 6 am. I wake the kids up with a made up ‘Good Morning’ Song. It’s great fun (for me). Actually, they seem to enjoy it. Either Sheba or I make them breakfast and either or both of us drop them in school. We’re at the office soon after 9 and my day’s obligations fluctuate depending on the season. Right now I’m in studio with my producer Will Kennedy working on a record.

There was a great deal of writing a couple of weeks ago. Then we had Sheba and a friend of hers vet 14 songs to whittle them down to 10. Now those 10 get further development work for a record. I still try and get home before bedtime for the kids and in this season of exam prep I tried to help our elder daughter practice. We have no house help over the weekend so it’s all hands on deck with the kids. The TV does come to the rescue sometimes though.

Eric Wainaina at Koroga Festival, 15th June 2014

Are there any Apps or online tech tools you would recommend for kids?

I don’t think games are a bad idea. I think they get their minds working in interesting ways. Our daughters are Minecraft-mad. Similarly to the days when my parents would make me tune the VCR because they had no idea what was going on, kids have ideas about tech now that we can only marvel at.

What practical tips or advice would you give our generation of Kenyan Dads on parenting?

Get involved. Also kids are great with advice and are instinctively logical. Listen to them.

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