Growing up in my own neck of the woods was an experience. We nicknamed our Pops the Ogbodons – not sure where the term originated from any more but my back side was a living testimony to his varied abilities and multiplied skills in inflicting pain. Mum didn’t help matters as she was was as resolute in hammering our ‘evil’ proclivities out of our systems. I got the opportunity to contrast that parenting style a few weekends back when I went visiting some distant family members in London. Clearly their less than 3 year old daughter has more leeway with him than I do with my own parents at my (huge) age.
In general, the following phrases got you into serious trouble in my house..
- It wasn’t me it was (insert name of younger sibling) – This was akin to adding petrol to a raging inferno. It often provoked a lecture on how you as a senior member of the house needed to take responsibility whilst the parents were out trying to make money to ‘take care of you’.
- Good Morning (without the Sir or Daddy) – This was the ultimate faux paus. You were required to treat your Nigerian father with the maximum amount of respect. I didn’t have to do the whole prostrating thing but failing to add ‘Sir’ to the morning greeting was guaranteed to result in some real deep ish – the least of which was some hours of ‘starvati0n therapy’.
- It is not true o! – This usually occurred when the Ogbodon was narrating to the ‘maternal unit’ your latest mess up which resulted in forgetting money in the taxi or some more public bit of embarrassment. To one’s young mind, adults were eternally embellishing the facts to make events seem worse than they really were, but woe betide you if you interjected. The initial parental reflex varied from ” I am talking and you are talking?” or worse “Are you calling me a liar?”.
- I don’t know – Back in the Abacha inspired days of severe austerity on University campuses, meat was at a premium. When someone surreptitiously invaded ‘Soup Kingdom’ and raided the pot for a choice piece of meat, repercussions were bound to occur. Chaps usually claimed ignorance to no effect. The parental reasoning was that ‘he that is not for us us is against us’ ie if you are not telling, you are implicit.
- I can’t remember – This was usually an escape route from a bad lie. When your father is a stellar academic with an amazing memory, you can’t think up things on the fly mehn. If you were lucky, you would only get a lecture after being serenaded by loads of questions. “What are you thinking of? Abi you have a girlfriend now?” Mumz was the resident girlfriend expert..and she would have risen very quickly to the top of MI6! Believe me.
- She hit me first – Beating up girls was a cardinal sin in my house. Two events stick in my memory. One was at school, a couple of dudes were heckling one of the class tomboys – the whole pinching, hitting, and all what not routine and yours truly was watching (ok… and occasionally adding a knock). We were so engrossed that I didn’t realize that it was way past the time Pops would come pick us up. After waiting for a while, he came to the class to see me applying a few deft touches to a knock. I got a few knocks myself in front of the girl (the girl never let me forget that for the rest of my time in the school!) and I got periodic knocks all the way from Ugbowo to GRA in the school run go-slow of the mid 80s. The other time, I was grounded and made to recite the longest memory verse at the annual Christmas pageant.The plus side was that I got a very cool nickname after the whole debacle… and she and I became best friends.. for a long time..
- My little cousin’s favorite words are ‘Don’t smack me Daddy’ – That would have been labelled down right rebellion – with some serious ‘starving therapy’ recommended for redress!