A couple of days ago, I realised that Tobi knows my mumu button (a button I did not even know that I had till then) and had been pr’essing it without my knowledge. For years, Lawyerman had been telling me that he Tobi is smarter than I give him credit for and that he (Tobi), has my mumu botton and presses it. I put that info on my Facebook when I found out (if you are not my Facebook friend, you can still read it. Olubunmi Layode is my Facebook name and it is public). From about 7 seven years ago, whenever I or Lawyerman or both of us go to pick Tobi up at school, once he comes out of class, we would be able to tell how his behaviour had been that day in school. He comes out of the class chirpy when he has been good in school. And when he has not been a good boy, you will know quickly enough too. He comes out of the class looking down at the floor, dragging his feet, unable to meet your eyes and having tears pooling up in his eyes. I normally just ask how his day was and what he was taught or what he learnt in school. But Lawyerman, maybe because of his calling, griiiils Tobi. ‘What did you do in school today?’ ‘How did you behave in school today?’ And then later, he asks that same things in a different way (one of Lawyerman’s annoying traits. He is always trying to catch persin out. E go ask the same things, at different times, in different ways). What did you get up to today? What topics did they teach you today? The only thing Lawyerman leaves at surface answer is if it involves Maths. He cannot handle Maths.
So, on the days Tobi has been naughty, he comes out of class looking sad, and unable to look us in the eye. We have a conversation along these lines :
Tobi to Me / Lawyerman : Hello Mum / Hello Dad.
Me / Lawyerman to Tobi : Hellooo! How was your day Habbibi /Hello Tobi. Why are you looking like that?
Tobi to Me/ Lawyerman : I had a bad day mum / I was not a good boy today dad.
Me / Lawyerman to Tobi : Awww… poor baby. What happened? / What do you mean you ‘were not good today?’
Tobi to Me / Lawyerman : ‘ I was naughty in class mummy. I’m sorry / I was naughty in class dad. I have disappointed you. I’m sorry Dad.
Me / Lawyerman to Tobi : Awww… it’s ok. Be a good boy tomorrow ok? / Tobi, what exactly did you do? If you knew you would be disappointing me, why did you go ahead and do it? You think I am your mum that you can just get away with anything with? You better stop that pretend crying you are doing and tell me what you did wrong today. I am not your mum. What did you do today?
By this time, I am feeling sorry for Tobi about the needless courtroom drilling he is undergoing. Lawyerman kept telling me I was t:oo soft. Privately, he tells me off for being too soft, for letting him wind me round his little fi’nger. And I tell him not to Lawyer us jo! Abegi! The family is not a courtroom. Sometimes, Lawyerman does not say anything. He just leaves Tobi and I to do our ‘sme-sme’, but will be fuming inwardly. It was on one of those days that I got a shock. Tobi had arrived in the car crying already about having been bad that day in school and I told him that the next day, he should not be naughty and he sniffed and agreed to not be naughty. Then, after a while, suddenly (I think he forgot we were in the car with him), he did that victory thing where one raises up an arm and then pulls their elbow towards their chest, and he said ‘Yes! It always works!’ Shock catch me. Lawyerman just shook his head and told me in Yoruba ‘ sebi mo so fun e wipe omo yen gbon ju bi ose ro lo’ – sebi I told you that child is smarter than you give him credit for. That was some 6 years ago. Then, I had another ‘Eureka’ moment again a few days ago.
A few days ago, the three of us were in the sitting room. Lawyerman felt something in his eye. He turned to me and pulling his lower eyelids down, said ‘Bunmi, jo, ‘blo:w mi’. I start blowing air into his eye. Tobi looks and sounds like he is stifling a giggle. And unsuccessfully too. So, Lawyerman tells me to stop. He turns to Tobi and says ‘why are you laughing?’ Tobi says ‘Ummm… erm… no reason’. So, Lawyerman turns back to me and says ‘ jo ‘blow: mi’ jare’ – b’low: mi please. From the corner of our eyes, we see that Tobi is positively struggling to stop the giggles. The penny drops for Lawyerman and me. Lawyerman said to me:
Lawyerman to me : ‘Bunmi, o daabi omo yi mo nkan o.’ – Bunmi, it seems like this child knows something o.
Me : (pretending to not know what he is talking about. I want to hold on to the notion of innocence of Tobi) ‘kini?’ What?
Lawyerman : ‘omo yi mo ju iye ti a ro wipe o mo o.’ – This child knows more than we think he knows.
Me : ‘bi kini?’ Like what? I’m deliberately being obtuse.
Lawyerman : ‘o mo nipa oro okunrin ati obirin’. – Regarding men and women issues.
Lawyerman to Tobi : ‘Why are you giggling?’
Tobi : ‘Nothing Dad.’
Lawyerman to me : (deliberately) ‘Please b’lo:w ‘me some more Bunmi.’
Tobi can’t hold it in anymore. He burst out laughing.
Lawyerman (sternly) : ‘Tobi! What is funny?’
Tobi : ‘Erm… nothing dad.’
Lawyerman (sternly) : ‘Tobi, if you don’t tell me, you will not play the Playstation for the weekend.’
Tobi : ‘Ermm… Dad, to ‘blo:w someone is …’
Lawyerman : ‘yes?’
Tobi : ‘Umm… erm… to ‘blo:w someone is to ermm… like… put someone’s p’riv;ate pa’rt in your mouth.’
So, to spare his blushes, Lawyerman and I pretend not to know anything about what he is talking about.
Lawyerman : ‘Really? Ok. That must be a new slang then. How did you know about it?’
Tobi : (recovering from his embarrassment and feeling cool) ‘Not really a new slang dad. I think old people like you say it too. You two just don’t know about it.’
Lol. OK Tobi. If that will help you sleep better.
The reason why I did not know for the longest time that I had a mumu button and that Tobi knows it is that I have always thought that I am strict(ish) with him and don’t let him get away with rubbish (much). He is a caring child. Has always been. When I am angry or upset by someone, he comes up to me, pats me on my shoulder or puts his arm around me and whispers in my ears
‘It’s ok Mum. It’s ok’.
And that usually soothes me. I say thank you to him and feel myself feeling less stressed. But! But when he is the person upsetting me, if he tries that with me, I push him off and tell him it is NOT ok and to NOT patronise me. So, I always thought I had a handle on him. But it would seem not. The past few days have confirmd me to have been wrong and Lawyerman to have been right.