By Bunmi Sofola
“Lagos is definitely as exciting place”, said this charming lady I once sat next to at a birthday bash. “My husband has just been transferred to Lagos from the Abeokuta branch of his office and I dreaded the things that could happen to my social life in Lagos. I needn’t have worried”, she said enthusiastically. “Before now, outings in our former station had been strictly for couples. Single girls seldom show up at social functions alone and whenever we had tiffs, my husband would rather dig his heels in the living room than take me to a function that I had spent weeks planning and looking forward to, as a sort of punishment.
It, therefore, came as a breath of fresh air when we moved back to Lagos and I discovered that not only did ladies saunter in and out of heavy parties in each other’s company, they always out-number and out-sprayed the men and stayed as late as they wished without worrying their pretty heads about how their husbands felt. For all you know, such `husbands’ are either non-existent or are out with other interesting `discoveries’. No matter what criticisms you have against this type of freedom, it is still good for the female psyche. You go out to let off seam and not necessarily to be mischievous as most men want to believe”.
“The fun of going out on your own or with your friends is to flirt with the opposite sex when the opportunity arises”, declared Gladys, a business woman who’s been married for years but prefers to go out alone. “My family is comfortable”, she continued, “so food and booze are never the consideration when I got out. My friends enjoy healthy gossip and we revel in that. Also, we meet a lot of interesting men who have successfully jettisoned their wives or partners and we all get together to `rap’. The men say a lot of rubbish they dare not repeat in the presence of their wives and we tease them endlessly on how relaxed they are away from their matrimonial shackles.
“My husband wouldn’t even think of me talking in such a brazen way. I’m always on my best behaviour when he is around and this could be quite a yawn. What man in his right senses would flirt with a lady who has a scowling partner, what we girls referred to as ADC, by her side when there are other intelligent, attractive and fancy-free woman to talk to? And you never know who you run into. Most of the business cads we get are promptly thrown out of the car windows on the way home or conveniently left at the party. The few interesting ones you tuck into a corner that only you have access to. Who knows what could develop from such cards.
Such ADC-less outings could go awfully wrong at times though. At a retirement party sometimes ago, a socialite and multimillionaire came in and saw this lady radiating charm, elegance and rare beauty. He was knocked to six. He arranged to be seated near his object of fancy. The gods were on his side too – The electricity went off as if on cue, and Sir Galahad sat, looking at the girl, enthralled. Once in a while, as he whisper sweet nothings to her, he mopped sweat from her lovely face. He even hijacked another lady’s hand fan for the lucky girl’s benefit. What a good diversion from the unease Discos (or whatever they’re called these days), had caused! Most eyes were on the couple, wondering where all these would lead to.
A few hours into the party, the seemingly love-birds were still going at it as if they were on stage. Then this sprawling man came in, looking a bit lost. “May I help you?”, asked the celebrant. “Yes”, boomed the man for all to hear. “I’ve come to collect my wife”. Of course, the wife heard the determined ring in her husband’s voice and shot out from her seat. You guessed right – it was `Juliet’, the man had come for. Romeo’s face was comical as he watched his jewel being whisked away by her rightful owner. For a moment, you could hear a pin drop. Then some of the men who’d been green with envy started cackling and sniggering, heir wives became a bit more relaxed and slightly sympathetic towards the poor Romeo who didn’t know where to put his face. “What a fortune man”, he grudgingly admitted, “In my days, no man walked away with a lady I was talking to, be he her husband or father!”.
One thing you don’t assume, when you run into unaccompanied women at parties is that they live alone. This was a lesson Larry, an older member of the bench learnt to his chagrin. “She never gave me the impression that she was a third `wife’ living on the largesse of her `husband’ when I met her at a cocktail party”. He said of his recent experience from his latest `find’. “When she told me she didn’t have any means of transport, I almost did a happy jig. Naturally, I offered her a lift and saw her to her door. Unfortunately, her `husband’ had already let himself in.
“He was livid when he saw me and because |I was a bit tipsy, my reflexes were not as sharp as they used to be. Before I could gather my wits about me, he pounced one me and was really pummelling me. `By the time I’m through with you’, he threatened, `you will never go after another man’s wife again’. I tried to explain, but he wouldn’t listen. I had no choice but to defend myself.
“Minutes later, when I staggered downstairs, my driver who was already relaxed expecting a long wait, took one look at my tattered agbada and hurriedly stated the car without saying a word. You win some and you lose some, but no man wants to be surprised! If we’d had one or two outings, the bashing I got that night might be worth the bother! But to have to go through that baptism of fire for committing no offence really, rankled!”
Are you still strict with your children?
It’s sad when you see a parent take their child’s discipline to an extreme. Gbuyi had always suspected his wife of not having that maternal feeling that makes a mother appreciate her child. “Our first and only caught together was three when I noticed she didn’t always like being around her mother”, he said sadly. “She was either playing happily with the maid or coming over to me with her chatter. Her mother always looked disapprovingly at her and was always barking orders. The last straw was when I came home early to find my poor daughter howling hysterically. She’d been naughty, the mother said, and to punish her, she’d been made to stand in a corner with her hands raised above her head!
“I was livid to say the least. For goodness sake, the poor girl is only three. I shouted at her, scooping my daughter into my arms and pacifying her. How could a mother be so cruel? I also discovered she had this little cane she beat her on the legs with whenever she thought she was misbehaving. She needs to know what’s right before it is too late; my darling wife used to say. The older she got, the more she avoided her mother’s company. So when my wife wanted another child, I refused. I told her I was no longer interested in the marriage – I wanted a home with happy children. So I sent her packing and kept my daughter with me. She’s a happier girl now.”
There’s no doubt that kids can be little devils, but do you know how far to go when you want to discipline them.? Some form of punishment is necessary now and again for one of three key reasons most children psychologists agree on: It teaches kids about cause and effect. They learn that their actions can have negative consequences for themselves and other people. It makes kids take responsibility for being naughty. If children decide to do something wrong, they must be prepared lo take the blame and accept the penalty. It reinforces the lines we draw between right and wrong – between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It shows them that parents mean business.
So when you do need to punish your children, what is the best way? Thank goodness smacking your child is not illegal as it is in most Western countries. However, they shouldn’t be smacked so hard by parents that they leave a mark. Smacking may stop a child immediately, but it is almost never he best way to stop a child from doing something wrong again. “Punishing children in this way is unhelpful”, says a parenting expert. “It teaches them how to avoid getting caught. It also completely fails to teach them how to change their behaviour, to understand why it might be in their interest to change it, or to give them any good reason for wanting to change it.
Instead of smacking children, consider sending them to their room or a ‘cooling off place’ to think about these actions.
“You could take away some of your child’s privileges by grounding them, for example, or not allowing them to stay up late at weekends. You could ban a favourite activity for a short time – such as watching TV, playing on the computer or riding a bike, or removing a toy from for a little while. Another sanction might be to stop the pocket money for a suitable period. Whatever you choose, stick to what Hartley Brewer, the parenting expert calls the `punishment contract’. This means giving them a warning of what the punishment is likely to be.