Fri Oct 21 15:05:59 CAT 2016

Today's kids need real tough love

By unknown | Sep 10, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

If you are wondering why this country is going to the "kennels", it's most probably because they no longer make parents like they made the men and women who raised us.

If you are wondering why this country is going to the "kennels", it's most probably because they no longer make parents like they made the men and women who raised us.

I was quite lucky, though I did not realise it then, to be raised in a neighbourhood where parents believed in what sociologists today call tough love. Errant brats got the rod. End of story.

The man next door was Tata Mango, a pot-bellied, bald-headed, chirpy character with a raucous laugh and an effervescent personality.

He was a gentleman, but he brooked no crap. Unlike my dad, he did not use the cane, but he had his own special way of dealing with little miscreants.

One day, for example, his kids made him angry. He let them go to sleep and then woke them up in the middle of the night - around midnight. Then he fetched several buckets of water from the tap outside, flooded the floors of his house and ordered them to wipe them dry.

I don't remember them ever making him angry again.

Not to be outdone was Ousisi, the tough-as-nails auntie who was the other next door neighbour. She was a chain-smoker, and President was her favourite brand. And she was as loud as she was short-tempered.

Ousisi lived with her son, Bra B, a toothless, harmless soul who would not harm a fly even if it sat on his nose. Bra B did odd jobs in the neighbourhood and religiously gave all his money to Ousisi. She bought him all his clothes from Sujee's, a supermarket a couple of blocks away.

Rumour had it that Ousisi had punched all the teeth out of his mouth, leaving him with that perpetual look of one sucking through a drinking straw.

Bra B was a grown man, but Ousisi made him scrub the floors, sweep the yard and shine the stoep. One day she made him get on the roof to fix a chimney. As he was struggling with it, Ousisi became gatvol.

"Jy maak net klomp kak daar!" she barked, briskly climbing the step ladder to go and fix the problem herself, cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth. Bra B gave a toothless grin as he climbed down.

Ousisi has passed on and nobody seems to know what happened to Bra B.

In the middle was my own dad, who sometimes made me feel that the boys at stoutskool were much happier. I can go on forever writing about him.

One of the many instances of his queer form of discipline was when the boy next door, my friend Butiki (now sadly deceased), tried to hit a bird with a stone. He missed and the stone fell into our yard. Now, you did not throw things into Titjhere Mogale's well-manicured yard, whether you were Butiki, his own child or anybody else.

He exploded: "Verdomp! So it's you who's been throwing all these stones in my yard."

He called the poor, trembling Butiki in, gave him a five-gallon bucket and ordered him to pick up all the stones in the yard.

The size of an average Evaton property is about the whole of a normal township block.

He let him toil for a couple of hours and when the sun set he took pity on him and dismissed him. This meant Butiki and I would most probably come to blows when next we met, but that I could handle.

My greatest relief was that his dad, a former boxer, did not come over to donner my toppie.


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