I was indirectly accused of being a bad father because Martin uses the terms “jy” and “jou” when he addresses me. To add to the insult, a whole lot of people thought it would be a good idea to "bliksem" people like us “to sort us out”, some suggesting that the only thing that will "sort out" kids like Martin is sending them to the “army”. I don’t know which army but I would never let my son into the current SANDF to deteriorate into a piece of ill-mannered, ill-disciplined oxygen thief. That is said with respect to the few guys out there really giving it their best shot. I have met some of them and you can tell they are really having hard times. I also know some ex-members whom can testify to this. I have seen some of the others and they are a disgrace to this nation. But that is not what we are talking about today.
I’m OK with it if Martin “jy” and “jou” me. Here is why:
Martin is well-behaved, well-mannered, and an absolute pleasure to have as a son. He does not need the army, or any military-type institution to teach him anything about respect. He has me - I grew up as a PF-child (children with parents in the permanent force are referred to as PF-children), there is nothing you can teach me about showing respect and good manners. Martin is 17-years old, still a child, but he has it in him to do ANYTHING I ask him to do, he has the endurance to do km after km in races or on game walks, or on a hunting farm. He handles a rifle with skill, the same as he does with a car or motor-bike. He is the one who paints the roof of our house (that is when I can afford the paint!), washes cars, do the garden, paints the house if needed, helps me when I work on my car or bike, iron his own clothes (and mine if I could not get to it myself), and also helps out with other chores if the schedules gets tight for other members of the family. He can even put a meal together without the help of his mother. He will protect his family and friends with his life – that he showed when his mother was attacked on the pavement in front of our house. Since he had his brains he has been taking on anybody who would dare make any negative remark about his disabled brother. He is the most patient person when it comes to spending time and playing with Stiaan. He also is grown-up enough to not be bothered by petty issues. And he does not lack respect (or at least good manners for those who do not deserve respect) towards anybody in any way.
I grew up in an environment where I “Pa, sal Pa asseblief…”. Where that I learn that from? From my dad, when he addressed his father, or father-in-law. That is where I learned to use Pa four times or more in a sentence, almost every weekend. Also, I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother until about three years ago. What also helped is the fact that I NEVER spoke a word, or never was subject to the English language, besides in the classroom environment, until I was in my matric year and took on a job at a Greek’s corner café. Only then was I forced to speak English outside the classroom for the first time in my life. I will explain why NOT speaking English helped in a moment.
How did my son grow up? Martin grew up in a slightly different way. During his most important forming years he VERY seldom saw his grandparents. One passed away before he was born, the other when he was still a baby, the next in his very early teens. He still has a grandfather but because of distance we very seldom see my dad. His next best example was from myself and my wife, Irma addressing me with “Riaan, sal JY asseblief…”. Now he obviously knew I was his dad, not his Riaan, so he would address me as “Pa (even Pappie, to this very day), sal JY asseblief…” Now, to make it even more difficult for the young chap, from when he was four months old he was enrolled in nursery schools where there were kids speaking English and Afrikaans. Martin developed very good friendships with some of these English speaking kids, way more than what I did as a youngster (In my time apartheid was worse between English speaking kids and Afrikaans speaking kids, than between black and white. We organised major boxing matches on Friday afternoons after school between the Boertjies and the Souties!). By the time he went to primary school he was fluent in English, despite growing up in an Afrikaans speaking home. In English, it is VERY common for youngsters to use “you” when addressing (with respect) their parents or any other person. And “you” translates to “jy” and “jou”. So, if he got a bit confused between you, jy and jou, what is the issue? He still struggles with the concept that “’n kar breek”. He still believes that “’n kar breek af”. Something simply got lost in translation.
Something that also may be upsetting some people (actually, it was the same person who got upset about the jy’ing and jou’ing) about the way Martin and I (and Irma for that matter) interact is the humour we share. In our family we have plenty issues with chronic illnesses, family members murdered, robberies, attacks, disabilities, etc. Because of this, we much rather see the funny instead of the somber in life. We joke about life and death and everything in between. If not, what kind of life would we have? “Who will open the gate if you were to die?”. “Please keep the number for Mr Delivery close by – just in case Mom dies.”, “I’m feeling sorry for the person who inherits my stuff – all he will get is debt”, etc, etc. That does not mean we do not respect each other. We do, and we love each other to bits, and respect one another.
So, to (some of) my friends: We may leave this world at any time. Don’t throw your toys out of your cot about petty issues like Martin jy’ing ang jou’ing Irma and I. We are OK with it. If you are not, sorry for you!
To KK and Junior: In case the BUS HITS ME, the keys to the third floor cabinet is on the red key thinghy with the keys to the other cabinets. Please tell Floydie to make sure that the network is up before we move NAB on Thursday, and please sort out the printers and loose ends at Finance and HR today. There are issues with ordering coffee and tea at work, so when we are out of stock we are on our own. And no, I don’t know when we will be getting our increases!
To my family, and more so to Martin: Enjoy life while you can, joke about it from beginning to end and everything in between, call me whatever you want to, I know where I stand with you. And I love you too.