Don’t let your kids squeal around Ndumiso Ngcobo
Here’s a riddle for you. What’s short, full of snot, more selfabsorbed than Donald Trump, eats more food than the 5,000strong multitude that Jesus fed, and cannot be trusted with any secret? Nothing comes to mind? Here’s another: how do you know someone does not have children of their own? Answer: they think children are cute.
I’ve got news for you: children are mean, mean miniature human beings. More importantly, kids are snivelling little snitches.
I have a friend who has a two-yearold son. The boy had, until recently, not bothered to participate in the whole human speech scene. He relied heavily on hand signals and monosyllabic noises to convey the minimum requirements in his life, such as food, PlayStation and pooping.
My friend and his partner were worried about this. I warned them against rushing him to talk but they ignored my wise counsel and took him to kindergarten. Peer pressure from the dozens of midget terrorists yielded the desired results and voila! he has acquired full speech.
Fast-forward a few weeks and my friend is in bed when a car rolls up his driveway. In the car is a friend who hasn’t bothered to forewarn him of the impending visit. My friend is busy nursing a ginormous morning-after headache. While he loves his friend dearly, he’s in no mood to entertain an idiot who just pitches up at his house. Besides, he’s extremely busy with something very important.
Thinking quickly, he calls his domestic helper and instructs her to tell the unwanted visitor that he’s not at home. This is exactly what he hears the helper tell the moron. Excellent.
But then, horror of horrors, he hears a third voice interrupting. It’s his two-year-old. Nope, Daddy is very much in the house, he tells the visitor. The helper is mortified, tells the intruder that the kid is confused. The little ragamuffin is shaking his head vigorously at this point. He switches to full Dali Mpofu mode, pointing out irrefutable evidence such as his car keys lying on the table. He is just moments from yelling, “Need I remind you that you are under oath? I put it to you that you are lying!”
The price of eggs recently soared to unheard-of levels. The only other time eggs had been so exorbitant, I must have been about 10. Those were the days of the Egg Board and the Milk Board. I remember my mom talking to my aunts about the fact that it was only a matter of time before there was a need for a stokvel to be able to afford eggs. So imagine her annoyance when she came home one day and found that the egg tray was short of at least half a dozen eggs.
We vehemently denied that we had anything to do with the Great Egg
Robbery. Our helper also denied possessing any knowledge that could help unravel the mystery of the disappeared eggs.
It is at this point that one of our playmates, a boy called Matorho, walked into the house carrying an OK Bazaars plastic bag with six eggs. When my mom asked him where he’d found the eggs, Matorho sang like a canary in front of a crowd at The Dome. “I saw Auntie Mumsie [our helper] place the eggs in the dump site by the fence. I think she probably thought they were rotten but they look OK to me. So I brought them back.”
This is how it came to pass that poor Auntie Mumsie found herself on the Pullman bus headed back to the Eastern Cape without a job, for egg smuggling. All because of a canary who couldn’t keep his beak shut. And I liked Auntie Mumsie because she always put extra Marmite on my bread.
Being a parent is a complex, difficult job. We have more responsibilities than non-parents could possibly fathom. We have to teach our children many things, such as the value of an honest day’s work, being kind to others, succeeding without being ungracious, honesty and integrity.
But we also have to train them while they are still young to tell green, rotten lies for self-preservation’s sake.
I bet Bab’ Ngubane, an illicit booze trader from my hood, wished he’d instilled the wholesome family values of necessary lies in his son the day three apartheid booze coppers came knocking. He’d been forewarned about the impending raid and had taken the necessary precautions, so he was in the clear. But while the other two were interrogating Bab’ Ngubane, one of the policemen started asking his son where the siqatha (toxic home brew) was. The lil’ urchin led him by the hand to a pit behind the peach trees and pointed.
Sometimes it’s not even a serious matter of illicit booze bootlegging, it’s just oversharing, such as hearing your son tell someone on the phone, “Please hold on while I give Dad the phone. He’s busy taking a crap in the toilet.”
The ragamuffin is shaking his head vigorously