Banyo Tales

I’d like to share a few stories which I’ve accumulated through the years. There is a common theme among these tales.

I start with an account a while ago in Sydney’s north. I was passing through and was on my way home. I heeded the call of nature but made the mistake of leaving my backpack outside the station’s restroom. I was kinda in a rush.

Upon finishing my duties, I noted a guy who was on a walkie-talkie. He indicated my bag, ‘Is this yours, mate?’ 

He sounded worried.

‘Yup.’

‘Be careful. Your bag could be mistaken for explosives. It could also get nicked.’

I made sure to keep that in mind. Looking back, I didn’t think the red colour helped matters. A wine-hued backpack is a red flag.

A few months ago, I used the restroom in Revesby station. While I was doing my business, I heard this kid telling her mum about the comfort room. Not long after, the latter smacked her real hard. She started bawling. I would later deduce that they were with a stroller; she has a baby sibling. The stress probably got to her mother. 

Despite the strain, I find the spanking very irrational. Getting pummelled after pointing out the toilet seems like overkill. No doubt such actions will not bode well for any kid’s development. Since kids are curious, it’s best to be patient and explain things. Different cultures have varying views on discipline. In Australia, the scenario is prohibited. The nation’s children are well-protected against these outbursts. Regardless, I’ve witnessed a few of these flare-ups. 

I discussed the use of the rod with an ex-neighbour many years back. He told me that he had some friends who were not spared as kids. He admitted that his parents never struck him, although he couldn’t just say whatever he wanted. His pops made sure of that. There was a long gap in the conversation; I believe he was prompting me to open up. Though we were close, sharing is not caring. 

I grew up in another country and discipline was viewed differently there. The instructors could be harsher than their Aussie counterparts. This meant that the students were less wantonly. Moreover, if you want to learn more about discipline, the Bible has a lot to say. Skimming won’t hurt. I’ve heard of some parents who wouldn’t lay a hand on their kids. This leaves a lot of scenes of entitled kids who’d go bananas just for a toy. 

‘What ADHD?’ 

A wise parent once told me that there’s nothing good ol’ disciplining can’t cure. If you allow your kids to misbehave, then they’ll always get their way. You might think it’s just a toy. Yet if you cave in one time, expect more to come. Indeed, a world where kids can have license against their elders is not fair. 

If I may, ‘You have to nip it in the bud.’ Before the vine grows, before the tree sprouts, you need to make sure that our future is on solid ground. 

I once read this Christos Tsiolkas novel, The Slap. This was made into a TV series. As you can deduce, the eponymous slap was the plot’s centrepiece. The child in question was a spoiled brat who got slapped because he wouldn’t play ball. Though he was cute, he had a bad temper when he couldn’t get what he wanted. Apparently, the kid had family issues, including an alcoholic father. The book problematises our perspectives. Who must we empathise with? The kid is clearly burdened with the wrong circumstances. Meanwhile, the system obviously favours the doer. Despite their flaws, they make a better impression. Yet we couldn’t help but agree that Hugo (the brat) would continue to wreak havoc unless someone deals him tough love.

Ultimately, being well-disciplined, kind, and emotionally-mature would open doors for our adult selves. These qualities would endear us to others and would create an appealing personality.  

Once, I went in to use the station toilet. I thought it was vacant but was mistaken. Upon opening the door, there was a tall Asian dude inside.

‘Oooh.’

He sounded exactly like Juan Gilberto, my former classmate. Whenever something went wrong, the latter would go, ‘Oooh.’ 

Speaking of kids, I once stood beside this chap. This was during the flag retreat in grade school. I was playing with my rubber band when he exclaimed the same cry: ‘Oooh.’

Juanito, my classmate at the time, found this funny. I repeated the drill a few times for more laughs.

Another time, the same thing happened in the CBD. The lock was half-closed. When I unlocked the portal, an older lady – who was on the throne – said ‘Ops!’ She even rolled her eyes for good measure. Upon seeing her, I immediately closed the door and apologised. These examples reveal some refined denizens. Their reactions were much less confrontational and more prudent than the norm. On both instances, I had wrongly assumed that the cubicles were free.

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