Save the world from men with skidmarks in their underpants

Why it's important to teach your sons to clean up after themselves

11 November 2018 - 00:00

Close your eyes tightly, furrow your brow and place your index fingers on your temple. Now imagine living in a world in which the human male is a responsible and considerate citizen who places the comfort and happiness of others ahead of his own. What do you see? Nothing, right?
So, what's wrong with men? The question is being tackled by well-read, superintelligent minds.
I had an experience this past weekend that provided me with clues.
Last week I was home with the firstborn and lastborn for about five days. Both the Boss of Me (the BOM) and our helper were away. The house degenerated into a mini-Jeppe Hostel. On Saturday afternoon I left, having satisfied myself that the kitchen was in a borderline acceptable state. More importantly, the sink was empty.
I returned late and went straight to bed. In the morning, I walked into the kitchen and almost pressed the armed-response panic button. Someone had ransacked our cupboards! Half of them were wide open. Crusty, dried-out spaghetti strands were clinging onto cupboard handles for dear life. A Debonair's box sat agape atop the stove with a forlorn, half-eaten slice of pizza in it. But what intrigued me most was one particular cupboard which was empty, save for one tumbler.
The mystery of the empty cupboard was solved when I peeped into the scullery, where a metre-high pile of dishes and glasses stared back at me like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in Hawaii. When I put the dishes in the dishwasher, I counted 23 glass tumblers removed from the mysteriously empty cabin.
So I asked the boys if, while I was away, they had invited a band of strippers to the house and had a party where 12 litres of Pine-Nut and Fanta Oranges were guzzled. They both gave me blank stares that betrayed the thought: "You actually expected us to clean the kitchen after we defiled it?"
Pop quiz: how do you create entitled males who believe that the world owes them servitude? Answer: you neglect to teach your boy children to clean up after themselves. There is a Zulu saying: Ugotshwa usemanzi (loosely translated; the best time to bend a tree stem is when it's still sprouting). This is a no-brainer that I have mysteriously forgotten in recent times.
I have a distinct recollection of the boys standing on a plastic platform with me instructing them on how to wash and dry dishes. This training bus seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere, down PS4 FIFA 19 Lane and WWE2k18 Crescent and is now hurtling towards Entitled Male Stadium at breakneck speed.
Look, everyone who has encountered my boys waxes lyrical about what polite, well-mannered and articulate kids the BOM and I are raising. And our chests swell up with pride like dumpling dough with too much yeast.
But aren't all humans just supposed to be polite and speak clearly, as a minimum standard? Isn't this the kind of thinking that leads to grown men calling radio stations to proudly proclaim: "I have never laid a hand on any woman" and expect the presenter to suspend regular programming, bring out Louis Armstrong and a brass band playing Congratulations? I'm not immune to this imbecility.
When my mom would give us a piece of her mind for the state of our bedrooms, I would glare at her, thinking: "Why is this woman yelling at me like I've killed someone? I'm a great son; I don't come home drunk, fight in shebeens or bring dodgy women to the house!" Can we all agree that if not doing these things makes one a great son, then Mzansi, we have a problem?
I know what you're thinking. It seems like a dramatic quantum leap to go from 23 unwashed glass tumblers to beating women, doesn't it? I'm not so sure. There is something fundamentally unsettling about the thought behind the thought that makes little boys drop an apple core on the floor and just leave it there as a giant feast for ants within a 2km radius. The disturbing thought is: "This is not my problem. Someone, likely a woman (helper or mom), will pick it up."
The lastborn recently ran into our room, screaming. He'd been sleeping and a swarm of ants had descended upon him without provocation, he wailed indignantly. When I went to investigate, I said: "Son, as delicious as you seem to think you are, these ants are not here for you. They're here for the Salticrax and cheese you've been smuggling into bed."
And don't get me started on the Festival of Lights during the day because no one else bothers to switch off. Or the fact that their bedrooms smell like the aftermath of a wild boar sex orgy.
I hope that I'm remembered as the man who died making a gallant effort to at least save the world from men with skidmarks in their underpants.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.