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Will your ‘X’ burst the bubble?

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In other words, if Mommy or Daddy ‘X’ doesn’t come in to scrub our dirty bits, are we mature enough to do it ourselves?

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Bath time was fun time. However, I have to say that there was not always time for a hot soaking bath when we – my siblings and I – were small children.

Our little home never had a geyser, so hot water would have to be warmed in kettles on the stove and we would place a plastic dish in the bathtub and scrub ourselves down.

By the way, before we succumbed to societal pressure to buy an electric stove and kettle, we had a hulking black coal stove in the kitchen, and sometimes, just sometimes, when we were very small we’d get to wash in front of the toasty coal stove in winter – what a treat!

Washing in front of the cosy Welcome Dover was fun, but bath time was different.

At bath time I’d make sure that I had my selected plastic toys, and yes, there was the mandatory yellow rubber ‘ducky’; my brother would have his toys, my sister hers and sometimes one or two cousins would join in.

For those counting on their fingers, remember I said earlier that we were “small children” at the time.

On luxury bath days a kettle of hot water was brought into the bathroom every so often to warm up the water so that we could soak until fingers and toes shrivelled.

But at some point Mom, and sometimes Dad, would come in to scrub the back of our necks, our ears and between our toes – this was the worst part of a luxury bath because our sanctuary had been invaded and we couldn’t play with our toys as we lined up military style to await our individual scrubs.

Look, you have to understand, bath soap killed the bubbles that the bubble bath had produced and that we had been maintaining by constantly agitating the water. Isn’t killing a child’s bubbles a type of abuse?

Oh, and by the way, there was absolutely no point in trying to reason with Mom when she had the face cloth in her hands. You were going to be scrubbed no matter how much you protested.

OK, enough negativity. Maybe there is a positive side to all of this trauma I suffered as a child.

You see, today decades later I still make sure that my neck, ears and other crevices are as clean as a whistle before I step out of the shower.

Our parents’ abusive diligence paid off I suppose. In doing something seemingly cruel and heartless – yes, I said “cruel and heartless”, because killing a bath full of bubbles borders on genocide to a child – they taught us how to maintain our bodies. After all, we only get one body in a lifetime, so maintenance, I have learned, is vitally important.

My bathtub trauma was playing on my mind over the past couple of days because I was thinking that tomorrow South Africans get to put down their toys, get into line and get to make some big decisions by doing something as simple as making an X in a little block on a ballot form. And this X, to many, means that we get to choose who is going to “look after us” for the next five years.

The thing is, just like we as children could not afford to become dependent on a parent scrubbing us, we as a society cannot depend on an elected party to shape our nation.

Our nation is 25 years old – that’s a young adult. We should be looking after ourselves. We cannot and must not depend on a party or a government to shape our destiny.

Yes, they have their function to help us achieve our goals, but we have to grow up, we have to learn how to behave ourselves, how to look after our environment, care for our communities, uplift the weak and broken, be humble and courteous, and become a noble and mature nation.

I had to learn to maintain my own body, but has our nation, in 25 years, learned how to maintain our society?

In other words, if Mommy or Daddy ‘X’ doesn’t come in to scrub our dirty bits, are we mature enough to do it ourselves?