It did not take Mr. Desmond long to notice that his son, Fred was behaving funny when he went to pick him from the school. 15 year old Fred is among the SSS 3 students that went back to school some weeks ago to write their WAEC examination.

Fred was living in the boarding house before the pandemic and the resultant closure of schools. But when the government announced the emergency reopening of schools for final year students, his parents decided otherwise. They chose to play safe by not taking their son back to the hostel. His father rather chose to do the school run for the period till things get clearer and better.

On this fateful day, it took Fred longer than usual to come and join his father in the car for their journey home after the school. And when he eventually came out he wore this kind of weird look on his face. He barely greeted his dad as he threw his school bag on the back seat before taking his seat beside his father, who was at the steering.

Mr. Desmond knew that something was not adding up somewhere with his son, but he chose to ignore him. On their way home, the father stole glances at his son on several occasions and discovered that the young guy was lost in thoughts. He was starring blankly into space while making involuntary gestures with his fingers.

After a while Mr. Desmond decided to break the heavy, but almost audible silence between him and his son. He went thus:
"How was your day, boy?"
Fred (without as much as turning to look at his father): Fine
Dad (wanting more interaction and gist as they had always done on their way home): how fine? What happened in school? Have more students resumed? What of. .

Fred(cuts in impatiently): Oh dad! I said everything went fine! Can't I have some peace after a hectic day at school?

Mr. Desmond quietly turned to take a closer look at the "stranger" sitting beside him in the car. At this point it was double clear to him that something was wrong with or about his son. He took a deep breath and kept quiet as they continued their journey homeward. But he made up his mind that he must get to the root of the matter that afternoon. Right there while driving he made a short, silent but heartfelt prayer. He prayed: "Holy Spirit, You are the revealer of every hidden thing. Please reveal to me this moment what is wrong with my son". After this prayer he just started singing praises to God till they got to their house.

As he drove into the compound and parked the car, he instinctively refused to release the central lock, hence, Fred was unable to get down from the car the moment the engine was turned off, as he would have loved to do.

Sitting there in the car starring at each other, father and son engaged themselves thus:

Son: Dad open the door let me get down.

Dad: I will do that but not until you have answered my questions 

Son (visibly angry): what questions?

Dad: What is eating you up?

Son: I said nothing is wrong with me. I just need to rest.

Dad: Good to hear that. (Then as if someone whispered into his ear, he said):  Fred, let me have your school bag!

Son: Dad, wha..

Dad: Shut up and hand that bag to me this moment!
Fred reluctantly reached for his bag at the back seat and handed it over to his father.

Dad: Good. You can take your leave now.

While the chap was still trying to fathom what was going on, his dad opened the car doors, got down, took his car keys and the school bag and went inside the house leaving his son in the car.

Mr. Desmond scarcely responded to the greetings from his wife and their daughter as he made straight to their bedroom. The wife noticed that something was not right somewhere and promptly followed him to the room.

There was no time for questions as the man immediately unzipped his son's school bag and emptied the contents on their bedroom floor. What they saw in that bag made Mrs. Rachel Desmond to blink her eyes several times while clutching her chest as if she momentarily went blind.

What did they see?

A brand new phone

A neatly packaged black T-shirt that has a monster-like emblem engraved on it.

A packet of minty sweets.

A black cellophane bag with a shiny wrapper inside. The wrapper contained a white powdery substance.

These things were neatly arranged in one compartment of Fred's school bag while his books were in the other compartment.

The couple were still starring at these items when Fred burst into their bedroom, without even the protocol of knocking at the door. He blurted out breathlessly: 
" Dad.., no Mum.., eh eh let me explain..."

"Explain what?" the dad thundered.

Fred continued: 'Those items you see in my bag are not mine. Yes, eh, rather someone gave them to me but I rejected them. Ehn, eh, just like, as in, .."

The mother spoke for the first time: "Fred, you remember that I have always told you that you are a covenant child. Others may but you cannot. The God I serve will never allow you. He will expose anything you go into behind my back..."

The drama continued and the end, the Desmonds were able to discover that:
 A cult group in the school had coerced their son Fred to join them. 
The items given to him were meant to lure him to join the group. 
The phone was loaded with all kinds if despicable apps and had enough data to allow him to browse without stopping. 
The guys who invited him and gave those items to him were themselves initiated through their contact with the sponsors online during the lockdown. 
They have their members in almost all the schools around that region. 
Both boys and girls are members of the group. 
The group is a starting point to train the boys and girls for greater activities when they get into the higher institution. They have a formidable network through which they control and monitor the activities of their members. 
Fred had the option of joining them or becoming their enemy and a target for attack.

Mhnnn! Wonders shall never end

 Matters arising:

Thank God that schools are about to reopen nationwide. Our children are really eager to go back to school; they have had enough of us and our constant lecturing for these months. But are the parents ready to send them back to school?
Being ready is much more than having money to pay the fees and provide other necessary materials.

1. Are you ready and do you have what it takes to prepare them emotionally before sending back to school? There is going to be lots of surprises;  many of the students returning to school have changed from whom and what they were before the schools were shut. I made a post on this a couple of weeks ago. I will advise you to look for that post: STRANGE BEHAVIOURS ALERT: TEACHERS BEWARE!

2. At least for the first few weeks after resumption pay close attention to everything your children say or do each day they come back from school. Watch their language, expressions, movements, songs, dancing steps, etc. You may pick something just like Mr. Desmond in our story did.

3. Engage them in discussions more than you used to do. And talk about everything - school, exam, friends, social media, year ending, relationship, sex, drugs, etc.

4. Check their belongings constantly. And do not hesitate to ask questions if you see anything you did not buy for them.

5. I want to sound too conservative here: take their phones from them once the schools reopen. Let them readjust to normal school life and interpersonal relationships. Disconnect them from all those virtual beings and activities that have taken hold of them. If you fail to do this the schools will become extensions of social media chatrooms.

6. Whether we know it or not, many of the youngsters have lost touch with good study habits. Help the teachers to bring them back to reality. Go through their school work and ensure that they do their home work, irrespective of their classes. So far they are below 18years of age, they are still accountable to you, unless you have relinquished your authority too early.

7. Never forget the potency of prayer. Mr. Desmond would not have gotten clue to what was eating his son up if he did not invite the Holy Spirit to help him. And if it was not his habit to pray for, and about everything, he would not have remembered to do so at that critical moment. If the guy had succeeded in taking those items into his room, the story would gave ended differently, and gravely so. 
In all your parenting efforts and skills make prayer the priority. The Holy Spirit can reveal a lot of things to you, which would have passed you unnoticed. Children of nowadays are overly smart and crafty.

8. Do not be surprised if you child starts demanding for things they never bothered about before now while going to school. Their eyes have opened.

9. Listen to the confession and firm belief of Mrs. Desmond about her son even in the face of such grievous offense. What are your beliefs, assertions and confessions about your child? Are you a positive or a negative parent? What you believe and confess has a way of getting back to you.

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