We were talking about delayed gratification and I was saying I think its a necessary and powerful skill – and historical. And I could tell a ‘today’ story to illustrate the absence of the ability to delay gratification in the terrible Youth Of Today:
I spent my morning at Home Affairs today. Bear with me, it’s boring:
For months I have said “Tom, go get your ID card and a passport. Something might pop up where you really regret not having them. Like you win an overseas vacation and . . “
So for some weeks he’s been ‘I’m gonna DO IT!‘ “Sure you are boy, get everything ready. Prepare. Make sure you know what’s needed.”
He doesn’t. We have a false start.
Today’s the new start. They’re gonna wake me at 4am and they’re gonna be first in the queue! They have A PLAN!
So I wake them at 4.30. Them is Tom and Ziggy. Ziggy is a star. His best friend and the only person who can klap him and have HIM say sorry.
I drop them off in Umgeni Road in the dark before 6am – it took them that long to move they asses.
Soon after I get home *pring pring*: ‘Dad, you have to also be here with your ID book and proof of address. They need the parent’s fingerprints for a first ID.’
They have gleaned this knowledge from those-in-the-queue-who-have-been-before.
At 8am I check my apt book is not snowed under – it’s not – so I mosey down there and join the fun. Be at work at 12 says Raksha. At 11 I see I’m not gonna make it so she says OK, 3pm. I read Cronje Wilmot’s book that Janet gave me on his days in Botswana. The famous Wilmot family of Maun.
By 12 we’re near the end and suddenly these two “need a snack” – ‘Dad, we’re starving!’ ‘Just a snack!’
“NO, I insist, firmly. “Eat afterwards. Do not leave the queue now.” Delay your gratification, I’m saying.
So they bugger off and true’s Bob, our place in the shuffling queue reaches Nirvana and they’re not back and their phones aren’t answered. Fuck that, I’m calm. I’m old now, I don’t panic easily. I wave the next auntie through and sit.
I phone again. COME NOW.
‘Aaw, we’re in the queue to buy hot chips!’ “Dammit Tommy, come now. LEAVE the food!”
Tom gets seen next, as soon as they arrive back. Ziggy has a delay as her number was cancelled and had to be reactivated. I left after I’d given my thumbprints and R400 for the passport – your first ID card is free.
But not before Tom gives me a huge public hug and ‘THANKS DAD!’ in front of the assembled masses. He knows that always fixes a lot and allows future misbehaviour! Such as immediately bumming some ‘Cash for lunch, Dad!’
And Ziggy was seen to soon after I left, they tell me tonight.