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Helen Paul talks about her childhood and relationship with her mum


Media personality Helen Paul had this interesting chat with Punch where she talked about her mum and how close they are. She also shared some hilarious experiences she had while growing up.

See excerpts :
“As a kid, I was very mischievous, especially with my caustic tongue. I was always very quick to talk; I didn’t need to think before saying things. As a result, I ran into trouble with people but my mother was always quick to rescue me even though I knew she would punish me later. There was a day a visitor offered me a drink and I took it. She tried using body language to communicate with me but it didn’t work. Then I hadn’t mastered her body language.

�When the visitor left, she put me in the attic in the house and told me that each time I took anything from visitors, it would be my new house. It took a lot of begging before she let me down from there. The next time the visitor showed up, I walked up to her as she was sipping at her drink and warned her, saying, ‘Never you offer me any drink in your life again.’ I said it in a babyish but menacing voice. For a moment, she was stunned and didn’t know what to say. Then she and my mom burst into laughter. I simply walked into my room to avoid being asked to take something and only to be punished later…”�

How close are you to your mother?
She’s my friend. We shared a wonderful time together when I was a kid and even till now, we still share experiences and encounters with each other. Of course we don’t see each other like we did many years ago, we speak regularly on the phone. We both have a rule � we talk to each other at least once in every three days. I also endeavour to see her whenever I can. We connect well with each other and when we see, we play and joke a lot. We can be naughty and just behave like babies.

Share some silly things you did while growing up that made your mother laugh or scold you.
Well, she did both in one memorable event that stands out amongst many. As a young student back then, my mom and my grandmother had warned me never to bring home a report card showing that I scored anything less than the first position in my class. The first few times after the warning, I brought home really poor results. I thought they were joking and never took my studies seriously. I received the beating of my life. Then one day as I was going home with another poor result, I recalled the last beating that I got and started crying. I took the 11th position.�

Then a tear drop landed on the first digit and seemed to fade away a bit. I quickly got a naughty idea and wiped it off entirely, making it appear that my position was 1 (1st) instead. When I got home, my mom and grandmother were very excited. I tried this about two other times but got caught later. My mom scolded and spanked me very well. However, she later saw the humour in it and laughed. She then pacified me and encouraged me to try and improve on my performance, not out of the fear that she had instilled in me earlier. Instead, she challenged me to be the best and surprisingly, I took up the challenge and my results greatly improved.

Can you remember other humorous experiences?
I got wind of a secret Valentine party that my friends were organising. They kept it a secret because, of course, they didn’t want our teachers to know. In the process, they ended up keeping me and some of our other friends out of the loop, me particularly, due to my tale bearing trait. I was surprised when I saw some of my friends in school with party clothes in their bags. When I asked them what was happening, they told me they were having a Valentine party somewhere in the Ebutte Meta part of Lagos. I didn’t even know what Valentine was all about and when I asked, they told me it was a period when people celebrate love. I asked them to be kind enough to give me something to wear but I was told that I was too tiny to wear any. That irked me so much and I went to the principal to report them. The principal nominated some teachers to follow me to the venue. We got there and with the teachers waiting outside, I went in and began to deceive my colleagues into following me outside one after the other, telling them that I wanted them to see my shoes.�

So it happened that they were all caught by the teachers. The following day at the assembly ground, the principal called out the names of the culprits and handed them two-week suspension letters. Surprisingly, my name was also called and I was given a letter. I opened it and saw that I was also suspended but when my colleagues asked me what the content of the letter was, I told them it was a letter of commendation. I later went to the Principal’s office to complain and was told that my offence was that for me to know the venue of the party, I must have been involved too.�

Well, we proceeded on the suspension but I advised my colleagues never to let our parents know. We decided to take turns to go and play at our parents’ houses once they had gone to work. After two weeks, we resumed only to be told to bring either our mothers or fathers to sign letters of undertaking on our behalf. Again, I advised that we should hire fake parents.�

These improvised parents followed us to school after we had paid them and as they were signing the said letters, one of the teachers pointed at me and accused me of being the naughtiest of the bunch, despite my small size. In a bid to impress the teachers that she was my real mother, the woman that was acting as my mom slapped me and I got angry. I exclaimed in Yoruba ‘Ha, you slapped me? Are you my real mother? Didn’t I pay you to act as my mother?’ I exposed her as not being my real mother and exposed everyone else in the process. I even asked her to refund my money. To cut the long story short, we proceeded on another two weeks suspension for bringing fake parents and thereafter returned with our real parents. It was embarrassing to me and though my mom scolded me real hard, I remember the encounter with a smile.

Could you remember your mother making sacrifices for you?
The one that easily comes to mind is when I took ill and I seemed not to be responding to any treatment. I was so ill that the doctors were surprised because I wasn’t born with a sickle cell. However, the doctors told my mom that my immunity was too low to fight illness at that time. We had to act fast and my mom literally wiped her account clean to ensure I get well. It was an eye-opening occurrence because all the people that we practically looked up to deserted us, including family, friends, and even church people.

Share some annoying things your mother has done to you…
An incident happened during a beach party that I had planned for a long time with my friends also in secondary school. My mom used to warn me then never to pile dirty underwear and leave them unwashed for long. I disobeyed on many occasions and she decided to teach me a lesson. I informed my mom of the planned beach party and she tagged along, even showing interest in the event and planning with me. On the day of the event, she welcomed all my friends and we all got into a car that was hired for that purpose. Just as we were about to leave, she came outside with the dirty underwear and told me in a calm soft voice that it appeared I had forgotten to wash them. Smiling, she asked me to go inside and wash them so I could join my friends later at the beach. I washed with her scrutinising each piece. Of course I missed the party. Since that day, the lesson sank in. Also, when she decides to talk, my mom knows how to repeat something so many times that it sinks in, whether one likes it or not! She would say it seriously or joke about it but one would eventually get the message. Initially, this also annoyed me but over time, I simply got used to it.

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