I had always believed my dad, being a die-hard disciplinarian and an authoritative father, was the strictest ever. He never spared the rod nor did he hold his fire-spitting tongue.
Well retrospectively I have learnt to cut him some slack. What with his first four children being all boys. And not just any boys but four very united ones with strong beliefs that his living room was their race track and his cushioned chairs their sport cars, while the bed in the bedroom was their wrestling arena.
Nonetheless, we thought he was extremely strict to a fault. However, I almost had a change of mind when I met Ademola. It was during one of those summer holidays’ inter-block football matches at the Police Barrack in Obalende that I stumbled upon this young lanky but agile and outrageously talented footballer.
Ademola was a notable sticker for his team, block 7, while I was playing a similar position but for block 22. Those days we had no money to purchase Jerseys for a whole team, so one team played half naked while the opposition played fully clothed in order not to confuse the officiating match officials. On that day my team was playing fully clothed.
The referee had barely blown his whistle to signal the start of the match when Ademola scuttled into the well-demarcated pitch. Tall and slim, Ademola waved at those chanting his name.
I shot him a quick side glance from the corner of my eyes as Abel sent the ball flying to me. Controlling the ball perfectly to the delight of my teammates and supporters I then made to move towards the opponent’s goalpost when Ademola thrust himself at me with a sliding tackle. I sprang into the air with the ball between my feet, avoiding collision with his sliding feet, and beating him to keep possession of the round leather as I did.
Landing softly to the applause of the spectators I thought I was clear of him when suddenly I felt a firm tug at my old green Tee. I was flat on my back before I knew what was happening. I had taken for granted his height advantage.
I was viewing the clouds when I heard the referees whistle. Immediately, I felt a strong hand pull me up to my feet.
“Sorry about that!” Ademola whispered to me as he got me back on my feet. “You dribbled me very well. Nice technique though.” He patted me gently on my shoulder, ignoring the referee who waved him a yellow card.
I dusted my back and buttocks as Abel came forward to place the ball for the free kick I had won for the team just midway into the opponent’s half. He was about to take the kick when the referee blew his whistle and signaled that the free kick be put on hold. He jogged to the opponent’s wall and signaled Ademola to take off his top. He was the only one among his teammates who still had his on.
Ademola complied without batting an eyelid. He tossed his dark blue sweat shirt at the crowd across the line. I smiled at his nice physique. For a scrawny guy he looked sculptured and fit. My eyes roamed his naked upper body in admiration until he turned his back to me.
That was when I stiffened.
Ademola’s back bore the ugly designs of a fathers anger in the name of discipline and corporal punishment!
My face scrunched into a remorseful scowl. And I realized I was not alone! And unfortunately, those scars were not only on Ademola’s back but they were also deeply embedded in his heart and soul. The sheer thought of an abusive and difficult childhood already puts Ademola’s future in jeopardy!
What are you designing on and in your children?
# building tomorrow’s leaders today!
# when parenting is a Legacy!